The Doctoral Award

The award, for the 'Most Distinguished Body of Research leading to the Award of a Doctorate in the field of OR', is an annual award, with the award being made at The OR Society’s Blackett Lecture in November.

The qualifying period is the calendar year in which the PhD or DPhil is defended or approved. For the full timetable, see the Guidelines tab. The thesis being submitted for consideration must have been examined at a UK University within the relevant time period.

With a prize fund of up to £2500 plus conference places available for the winner and runners-up, this represents an exciting development for PhD students. Initial nominations are normally from the external examiner who has identified the body of research as of exceptional quality.

The winner of the award wins a cash prize of £1500. Up to two runners-up each receive £500. The winner has their name engraved on the George Paterson shield as a permanent record of their achievement. The successful candidates are expected to present their work at the annual conference of The OR Society. A significant contribution towards to cost of the conference is available to all prize winners.

The deadline for receipt of submissions is 12 Aug (extended for 2022 only - it will then revert to 31 March) . All submissions should be to Carol McLaughlin, The OR Society Research and Publications Officer [email protected].

The winner and runners-up for this award are announced in October.

The George Patterson Memorial Shield of The OR Society

The George Paterson Memorial Shield

2021 Doctoral Award Winner

Dr Jake Clarkson, Lancaster University. '' Optimal Search in Discrete Locations: Extensions and New Findings''

A classical search problem involves finding an object hidden in one of several discrete locations according to some known probability distribution. The objective is for the searcher to discover the object in minimum expected time. Such problems have obvious military applications, but a rescue team searching for a survivor of a disaster or a salvage team searching for the remains of a ship or aircraft provide other potential applications. In his thesis, Jake Clarkson presents two extensions of this classical search problem.

The first extension is applicable for situations where two possible types of search are available. The search can either be slow, which results in a higher probability of finding the object, or faster but with a lower probability of finding the object. The thesis develops sufficient conditions for the optimal search of a location to use the slow speed or to use the fast speed. This allows the optimal search problem to be solved in many cases, and also leads to effective heuristic policies with performance guarantees in other cases.

The second extension deal with a situation where the object corresponds to a hider who aims to remain undetected for a maximum expected time. In this variant, the searcher has no knowledge of the probability distribution with which the hider is located, and instead the probability distribution is chosen by an adversary who tries to make the search as hard as possible. The resulting problem is a semi-infinite search game. The thesis introduces a variety of innovative ideas to produce a successful analysis.

The lead supervisor comments that the thesis “exhibits a depth of insight and power of analysis which in my extensive experience of supervising and examining PhDs is without parallel”. Two joint external examiners state that “this dissertation is the best we have examined”. In terms of the first extension with alternative speeds, the examiners predict that “it will become highly cited and lead to a new branch of the search theory literature and application”. In terms of the second extension involving a search game, they state that “previous work has produced partial analyses and discussion of special cases, but Jake’s work has in all essentials solved the problem”.


Dr Jake Clarkson (University of Lancaster) 

Previous Awards

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