Decision Optimization In The Cloud at INFORMS Annual Meeting
Update on Jan 10, 2015.
Decision Optimization on Cloud open beta is now available. I documented step by step on boarding here, but you can also try by yourself here .
Trying Decision Optimization on Cloud beta: part 1, Demo
Trying Decision Optimization on Cloud beta: part 2, CPLEX
Trying Decision Optimization on Cloud beta: part 3, OPL
Our INFORMS conference slides are available at our INFORMS 2014 Annual Meeting page
Original post:
The IBM Decision Optimization team will be... [More]
Tags: cloud cplex optimization analytics 
CPLEX 12.6.1 Announce
We are proud to announce a new release of CPLEX that will be available on December 5 for electronic delivery for paying customers. Date for academic initiative availability isn't known yet but we'll work to make it as soon as possible.
Official announce text is here . Enhancements include significant performance improvements across the board, as well as adding some licensing flexibility for our customers. In particular, enhancements include:
Improved performance of optimizers, notably MILP, convex... [More]
Tags: analytics optimization cplex 
Why Users Cannot Help You Improve Your Products
Making decision based on data seems a good idea, doesn't it? After all, this is the value promised by all Big Data promoters out there. Let's look at a real use case to understand better what might go right or wrong. I will focus on the decisions product managers must make when they think of the next version of their product. Should they base product evolutions on customer feedback?
Let's first address the case of disruptive technologies. It is (now) (well) known that the answer to the above... [More]
Tags: decision big_data sampling analytics design 
I Want The Best Solution
Who among optimization practitioners hasn't heard at least one customer saying "I want the best solution" ?
I certainly did.
When that happens one has to manage expectations because solving real problems to optimality may not be possible in a reasonable time. Customers must understand that finding the best solution and prove it is the best one is not always doable. They should instead focus on finding the best possible solution in a limited amount of time. If they agree to it, then they find it... [More]
Tags: optimization analytics moov 
Convex Optimization
I had the pleasure to be invited to attend the German OR conference last week in Aachen. There were many highlights at this conference beside the great venue and excellent organization led by Marco Lübbecke, see for instance Mike Trick on Laura McLay's semi plenary and Laura McLay on Mike Trick's plenary presentation . I will discuss here the semi plenary given by Stephen's Boyd on convex optimization.
Convex optimization is a generalization of linear... [More]
Tags: theory optimization 
Analytics Without Decisions
The view that analytic value comes from the decisions it enables is gaining momentum. I've discussed it in my Analytics Is A Mean To An End and The Analytics Maturity Model posts, but I was very pleased to read the following post from Seth Godin:
Analytics without action
Don't measure anything unless the data helps you make a better decision or change your actions.
If you're not prepared to change your diet or your workouts, don't get on... [More]

Machine Learning and Optimization
The view that Machine Learning is tightly linked to optimization is becoming common knowledge. There are training courses ( Stephen Boyd's and Steve Wright's ) mixing the two. The Data Smart book by John Foreman describes some key machine learning techniques as optimization problems using Microsoft Excel solver. This book is a great read by the way. But what made me write this blog entry is that I was quite delighted when I read the following from John Mount
My opinion is the best... [More]
Tags: machine_learning analytics optimization 
Price Optimization
Did you know that the price at which you buy your Coke bottle (pick any brand you'd like here) at your nearest retail store was probably set by a process that involved mathematical optimization? If not, then learn how it was probably done.
Let me first say that the idea of optimizing prices isn't really new. The airline industry has rolled out techniques called revenue management in the 90s, where the number of seats offered at a given rate was modified according to the demand. In a nutshell, if a given... [More]
Tags: analytics optimization commerce big_data 
Common Sense Operations
Is Optimization the tool of choice for improving operations? I tend to say yes, because we can be proud of the impact of optimization on various businesses and industries. See for instance the Franz Edelman Award finalists for examples of tremendous achievements . Yet, I regularly see nice alternative to using optimization techniques being successfully used. Let me give two examples.
I have been visiting a trucking company a while ago, pitching optimization as a way to significantly decrease mileage and... [More]
Tags: optimization analytics 
Memory Locality
How can a Java code be 85x slower than a C++ code solving the same problem? This post is trying to answer this question.
Why am I asking this question in the first place? It all started with a seemingly simple exercise. We were working on a large scale analytics (aka big data) project and had trouble agreeing on what results should a particular analysis return. I decided to write a C++ code for it, and a colleague decided to use Java. The goal was to use two completely independent implementations for cross... [More]
Tags: analytics graphs high_performance 
The Analytics Maturity Model
Analytics can be defined in many ways, but what matters is the purpose of analytics. Most definitions agree on the following: analytics is used to gain insights from data in order to make better decisions, see for instance INFORMS definition :
Analytics is defined as the scientific process of transforming data into insight for making better decisions.
Some speak of actionable insights to stress the purpose of such insights. Then, various levels of analytics maturity can be distinguished, depending on how much... [More]
Tags: optimization analytics 
Data Science Is Hard : A Look At Sotchi Olympics
Data Science is hard. I'll use an example that made lots of buzz to show some of the issues with data science. Two brothers, Dan and Tim Graettinger, who work for Discovery Corps, Inc. devised a predictive model that predicts medal count per country for the Sotchi Olympics. The Graettinger brothers model was commented on most data science and analytics sites, in OR blogs (see Laura McLay's entry) , even beyond . Question is: did they predict medal count correctly?
Before answering that question let me... [More]
Tags: data_science analytics 
Solving the hardest Sudoku  part 2
My previous post on Sudoku described how a fairly simple OPL model could be used to solve a hard Sudoku problem. I ended the post this way:
What?
What do you say?
I see, you're asking about the solution to the above Sudoku. Well, why not download CPLEX for free and run the above model to find out?
This post is a detailed tutorial on how to run that Sudoku model on a Windows PC using CPLEX. It also addresses an interesting challenge about using Microsoft Excel for defining the problem data... [More]

Solving the hardest Sudoku  part 1
Do you know the hardest Sudoku problem? Do you know the best way to solve it? Before answering these questions, let me remind you of what the Sudoku puzzle is about in case you haven't read a newspaper in the last decade (adapted from wikipedia ):
The objective is to fill a 9×9 grid with digits so that the digits in each column, each row, and each of the nine 3×3 subgrids that compose the grid (also called ""blocks") are pairwise different. The puzzle setter provides a partially completed grid,... [More]
Tags: constraint_programming mathematical_optimization optimization analytics sudoku mathematics 
Tower of Hanoi at Large
Did you know that the Tower of Hanoi puzzle had real world applications? I was lucky enough to be involved with one such application . Before describing the application, let me recap briefly what the puzzle is about. I'll borrow the definition from wikipedia .
The Tower of Hanoi (also called the Tower of Brahma or Lucas' Tower , [ 1 ] and sometimes pluralised) is a mathematical game or puzzle . It consists of three rods, and a number of disks of different sizes which can slide onto any rod. The puzzle starts with the... [More]
Tags: analytics constraint_programming smarter_city optimization 