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Conferences & Events
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Third Annual International Workshop on Decision Making Under Deep Uncertainty
Deltares in Delft, the Netherlands
03 - 04 Nov 2015
Blackett Lecture
Grocers’ Hall, London
26 Nov 2015
International Conference on Operational Research for Development 2015 (ICORD 2015)
Palm Village Hotel, Uswetakeiyava (North of Colombo) Sri Lanka
03 - 04 Dec 2015
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Special Interest Meetings

Mon 14 Sep   Analytics Network
Mon 28 Sep   Analytics Network
Mon 12 Oct   Analytics Network
Tue 13 Oct   Third Sector OR
Fri 16 Oct   Decision Analysis
Fri 16 Oct   Behavioural OR
Fri 16 Oct   Defence
Fri 16 Oct   Public Policy Design
Mon 26 Oct   Analytics Network
Mon 09 Nov   Analytics Network
Wed 18 Nov   Criminal Justice
Mon 23 Nov   Analytics Network
Mon 07 Dec   Analytics Network
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Past Meetings

Scheduling Philae's Science Campaign Using Constraint Programming

Venue: University of Edinburgh Business School, Lecture Theatre 2 (LG.18)
Speaker: Emmanuel Hebrard
Date: Friday, 25 September 2015 at 14:15 - 16:00

Emmanuel Hebrard

Laboratoire d'Analyse et d'Architecture des Systemes, Toulouse , France

25th September 2015, 2pm,

University of Edinburgh Business School, Lecture Theatre 2 (LG.18),

29 Buccleuch place, EH8 9JS, Edinburgh

Free registration here

Scheduling Philae's Science Campaign Using Constraint Programming

Abstract: On November 12th 2014, the robot-lab Philae was released from the spacecraft Rosetta and landed on the ground of the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Philae is fitted with ten instruments to conduct the experiments elaborated by as many research teams across Europe. These experiments, should they be imaging, sampling or other types of signal analysis, correspond to sequences of activities constrained by two extremely scarce resources: the energy supplied by a single battery, and the storage memory of its CPU.

The plans executed by Philae are modelled and solved using constraint programming technology. Indeed, Mission Operations Scheduling Tool (MOST), the toolkit used to schedule the lander's activities, was developed by a CNES team based in Toulouse on top of IBM ILOG Scheduler (now IBM CP Optimizer).

I will present the contribution of our group to solving the problem of scheduling Philae's activities. In particular, I shall focus on the design of algorithms for efficiently reasoning about data transfers within Philae and between Philae and Rosetta. These algorithms made it possible to solve in a few seconds long term sequences of activities that otherwise required hours with the previous approach or in some case could not be solved. Moreover, they also give a more accurate prediction of the memory usage, thus giving better guarantees against data loss.

Biography: Emmanuel Hebrard is a CNRS* researcher at the Laboratory for Analysis and Architecture of Systems; University of Toulouse. He has got a Ph.D. from University of New South Wales.

His research interests cover many aspects of combinatorial optimisation in general, and constraint programming in particular, such as the design of solvers and algorithms for constraint propagation, SAT and clause learning, or the complexity and tractable classes of constraint satisfaction problems. Recently, his research was applied in projects with the space industry (CNES and Airbus Defence and Space).

(*) French "National Centre for Scientific Research

Organizer: R. Rossi

Coordinator: R. Rossi

Tutorial on Vehicle Routing

Venue: Project Room 1.06, 50 George Square, Edinburgh EH8 9LH
Speaker: Gilbert Laporte
Date: Monday, 07 September 2015 at 08:30 - 17:30

This is part of the Workshop on vehicle routing on 7th and 8th September. Check the website below for further details.

The operational management of fleets of vehicles in many application areas including the transportation of merchandise and the provision of public services such as waste collection is increasingly challenging with the rise of big data and smart online retailing systems amongst other things. Planners and schedulers of transportation routes for vehicles are often faced with many practical challenges including the combinatorial nature of routing and scheduling problems. Although significant progress has been made on the design of computationally efficient optimal methodologies and algorithms, it remains that the sizes of the problems to be solved in practice tend to favour the use of heuristics approaches and methods.

This World Class Workshop attempts to open the black box of exact and heuristic solution methods for both node and arc routing problems. The objective of this workshop is to enhance our understanding of why certain solution approaches and methods perform very well in some cases, but behave poorly in others. It should also initiate the discussion on future research directions by looking at a number of past and present-day problems. The workshop is primarily designed for researchers (e.g. PhD students, post-docs, and faculty members) in the fields of routing, scheduling and logistics.

This workshop is delivered by a renowned expert Professor Gilbert Laporte from the CIRRELT Research group, to present recent research on routing problems with applications in the area of transportation.

Website and

Contact e-mail address:

The Impact of Pricing Decisions in a Business-to-Business environment

Venue: Playfair Library, Old College, South Bridge EH8 9YL Edinburgh
Speaker: Christopher S. Tang
Date: Friday, 17 July 2015 at 14:00 - 15:30

Free registration here. 

Abstract: We examine the impact of pricing decisions in a B2B environment.  Because the scope is broad and relevant literature is scant, we shall examine this issue in two specific setting.  We first examine how discount pricing concessions can create the “bullwhip effect” in the MRO (maintenance, repair, and operations) industry and discuss how to mitigate the bullwhip effect.  Then, we discuss how uncertain spot price market in the ocean freight industry has triggered customers to demand carriers to offer “price matching.”  We examine the impact of price matching mechanism on the carrier.

Data Science for Massive (Dynamic) Networks

Venue: University of Strathclyde, Room: TBA
Speaker: Panos M. Pardalos
Date: Friday, 10 July 2015 at 14:00 - 15:00

Registration: Please email or register at eventbrite before 15th May 2015 for a guaranteed spot. This is just before Euro 2015 at Strathclyde; so places may be limited.

Data science tools, such as data mining and optimization heuristics, have been used
to analyze many large (and massive) data-sets that can be represented as a network. In these
networks, certain attributes are associated with vertices and edges. This analysis often provides
useful information about the internal structure of the data-sets they represent. We are going to
discuss our work on several networks from telecommunications (call graph), financial
networks (market graph), social networks, and neuroscience.
In addition, we are going to present recent results on critical element selection. In network
analysis, the problem of detecting subsets of elements important to the connectivity of a
network (i.e., critical elements) has become a fundamental task over the last few years.
Identifying the nodes, arcs, paths, clusters, cliques, etc., that are responsible for network
cohesion can be crucial for studying many fundamental properties of a network.


The Role of Virtual Customer Interaction in Product Innovation Success: Evidence from a Crowdfunding Platform

Venue: Lecture Theatre 3, 29 Buccleuch pl. EH8 9JS Edinburgh
Speaker: Bilal Gokpinar
Date: Friday, 22 May 2015 at 10:00 - 11:00

Abstract: Customer interaction has long been recognised by organisations as a way to elicit market needs during their efforts to innovate and develop more successful products. Following recent trends in Information Technology, virtual customer interaction is the rapidly emerging digitisation and democratisation of customer interaction. Its dramatic shifts in terms of interaction volume, frequency and costs, customer selection and community effects make it both an exciting opportunity as well as a difficult challenge for small and large organisations alike. Using a novel dataset of 21,028 new product development (NPD) projects from a crowdfunding platform, and employing an instrumental variable approach to strengthen causality, we demonstrate a significant positive effect of virtual customer interaction on NPD success. We then show that this effect is mediated by the extent to which customer feedback is incorporated into the innovation, highlighting an operational link between customer interaction and product innovation success. Lastly, we generalise previous research on customer selection and show that customers from diverse backgrounds particularly increase the likelihood of innovation success.

Biography: Dr Bilal Gokpinar is a Lecturer (Assistant Professor) in Management Science and Innovation at University College London (UCL). He received his PhD from Northwestern University, USA. Bilal’s main research interests are in new product development, innovation, operations and technology management. Specifically, he is interested in design, management and improvement of knowledge-based (white-collar) work processes, and operational and organisational challenges in knowledge-intensive business settings. His research has been published in leading management journals such as Management Science and Production and Operations Management. He teaches “Operations and Technology Management” and “Project Management” at UCL, and his industry experience includes working with General Motors R&D and Strategic Planning.

Visualising data: a statistician's journey

Venue: LT908, Livingstone Tower, University of Strathclyde, G1 1XH
Speaker: Robert Grant
Date: Thursday, 23 April 2015 at 17:00

Summary: The last few years have seen an explosion of innovative data visualisations, particularly those that are interactive and delivered online. These have the potential to make our work have much greater impact but are a mystery to most statisticians. I will describe how I learned about these: how to design them and how to make them. I will reflect on the differences between the worlds of data and design, and present some current experiments in representing uncertainty in more intuitive ways for a lay audience.

Register here.

Visualising data: a statistician’s journey

Venue: LT908, Livingstone Tower, University of Strathclyde, G1 1XH
Speaker: Robert Grant
Date: Thursday, 23 April 2015 at 17:00 - 18:00

Summary: The last few years have seen an explosion of innovative data visualisations, particularly those that are interactive and delivered online. These have the potential to make our work have much greater impact but are a mystery to most statisticians. I will describe how I learned about these: how to design them and how to make them. I will reflect on the differences between the worlds of data and design, and present some current experiments in representing uncertainty in more intuitive ways for a lay audience.

Register here.

Combinatorial Optimization for Workload Dispatching on the EURORA Supercomputer

Venue: Conference Room, Business School, 29 Buccleuch place, EH8 9JS, Edinburgh
Speaker: Michele Lombardi
Date: Friday, 20 March 2015 at 14:15 - 16:00

Free registration here

Abstract: n the era of Cloud Computing, Big Data, and Quantum Physics Simulations, data centers play a key role in the world ICT infrastructure. The need to match the ever-growing demand of computing services within a reasonable power envelope has pushed modern data centers to adopt techniques to limit their energy requirements, such as using heterogenous architectures, free cooling, or virtualization. While effective at mitigating the consumption, such techniques significantly increase the complexity of workload dispatching, giving a hard time to the existing scheduling systems. In this context, Combinatorial Optimization methods have the opportunity to be the enabling factor for the next generation of job dispatchers in data centers.


In this work, we focus on the problem of job dispatching on a real supercomputer (for High Performance Computing applications) having heterogeneous architecture, namely the EURORA system installed in the CINECA data center in Bologna. The problem consists in mapping and scheduling a stream of computation-intensive jobs with approximately known duration on the supercomputer resources. Currently, this is mostly done done via a rule-based system (Altair PBS) that incurs the risk of causing resource fragmentation (and hence underutilization) or large waiting times.


We are working on an alternative approaches based on Constraint Programming and Combinatorial Optimization in general. A series of prototypes has already been realized and deployed both in a simulated environment and on the real supercomputer. The approach is leading to significant improvements in terms of waiting times and comparable machine utilization when compared to the system currently installed in the data center.


Biography: Michele Lombardi is a an assistant professor (no tenure track) at University of Bologna. He is working on the integration of heterogeneous techniques for Combinatorial Optimization, and on hybrid off-line/on-line optimization. His expertise is on Constraint Programming, Integer Linear Programming and Machine Learning, with main applications on resource allocation and scheduling problems. Michele has a PhD in Electrical, Computer and Telecommunications Engineering, from University of Bologna. He received the AI*IA "Marco Cadoli" PhD award in 2010, and honorable mentions at the CP 2011 and ICAPS 2012 PhD awards.

The Design and Implementation of Metaheuristics

Venue: University of Edinburgh: LT7 and LT4 – Business School, 29 Buccleuch Place, EH8 9JS
Speaker: Michel Gendreau
Date: Monday, 02 June 2014 at 08:00 - 03 June 2014 - 17:30


Dr Jamal Ouenniche <> - (0131 651 5239)


Very many optimisation problems could be modelled as mathematical programs and solved using optimal methods, heuristics including metaheuristics, or hybrid methodologies that combine optimal and heuristic methods. For most real-life applications; such as, design of distribution networks and location of facilities, planning and scheduling of supply chain operations, and transportation of merchandise and routing of vehicles, all involve optimization problems which are typically combinatorial in nature and the only realistic way of solving such combinatorial optimisation problems is using heuristics.

This workshop is designed for researchers (e.g., PhD students, Post-docs, faculty) and aims at presenting the landscape of research on the design and implementation of metaheuristics. A bouquet of renowned academics in this field shall present panoply of different designs and implementations of metaheuristics for both deterministic and stochastic routing problems with application in the transport of merchandise. Discussion sessions are intended to facilitate dialogue between the participants.

Register at

Optimal timing for posting a direct price under marketing channel conflict

Venue: Conference room, 29 Buccleugh Place, Edinburgh, EH8 9JS
Speaker: Kenji Matsui
Date: Friday, 21 March 2014 at 14:00 - 15:30

This paper investigates the optimal timing of pricing by a manufacturer
managing two types of marketing channels, a retail channel and a direct
channel. Traditionally, analytical marketing models describing channel
conflict examine price competition, where the retailer and the manufacturer
simultaneously determine the retail and the direct prices, respectively. In
contrast to this conventional setting, our model demonstrates that such a
simultaneous price competition never arises if the manufacturer and retailer
can choose not only the level of the price but also the timing of pricing. If the
manufacturer sets the direct price after selling products wholesale to the
retailer, the retailer accelerates the timing of retail pricing prior to the direct
price setting by the manufacturer. Our findings suggest that the manufacturer
should post the direct price before or upon, but not after, selling products
wholesale to a retailer. Such upfront posting of the direct price not only
constitutes the subgame perfect Nash equilibrium of the noncooperative game
between channel members but also maximizes the profits for the
manufacturer employing multichannel sales strategies.

The Relationship between Retail Marketing and Logistics: Fulfilling Consumer Demands in a Changing Retail Space

Venue: Conference room, 29 Buccleugh Place, Edinburgh, EH8 9JS
Speaker: David B Grant
Date: Friday, 07 February 2014 at 14:00

The desired output of logistical activities is to provide goods and services to
consumers to meet their needs from ‘point-of-origin to point-of-consumption’
and is akin to the desired output of the marketing concept. However, the
reality is that logistics and marketing seldom meet, particularly at the critical
retail interface between firms and consumers.

Retail logistics in the UK is considered by many to lead the world, especially in
the grocery sector, and there is much reliable evidence for this claim.
However, such claims do not address the need to develop world-class
logistical activities and supply chains in an isolated and oligopolistic island
environment. Further, there continues to be issues regarding in-store retail
operations such as sourcing, inventory management, replenishment and
availability, human resources and online provision that concomitantly affect
customer service, satisfaction and profitability. Some of these issues are also
found in the online retail environment.

This seminar will reflect upon a decade’s research of logistics customer service
in the retail sector to present a current appreciation of the strategic
connections and disconnections between retail logistics and retail marketing
or merchandising. Current examples of the foregoing issues will be reviewed
before observations are provided about what retailers as well as marketers
should do in future. The seminar will conclude with some brief alternative
and unpopular points of view to the somewhat fractious relationship between
consumers, retailers/marketers and logisticians, including reducing product
ranges, increasing road infrastructure to ease traffic congestion, charging the
full cost of products and services for both in-store and home delivery
provision, and educating consumers regarding wastage incurred from over-