with Tags:
optimization
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## Do More With Less
Most past use of Operations Research (OR) were about lowering cost, or other resource usage metrics. We now see more and more use of OR to generate more revenue, see for instance this example There is also a middle ground, where OR is used to achieve more while using less resources. In short, OR is used to do more with less . A great example is described in this video, by a very enthusiastic user of analytics and optimization. Facing an aging infrastructure and numerous customer complaints, the District of... [More]
Tags: smarter_water optimization analytics |

## Decision Optimization
Decision management is a hot topic these days. At IBM it is defined as a combination of predictive analytics and business rules . Used separately or in combination, these analytics techniques provide a powerful way
to automate, optimize, and govern repeatable business decisions. Readers interested in learning more about decision management should have a look at Jame's Taylor's site in addition to IBM's decision management pages . Wait a minute. We just wrote three sentences about decision making, didn't we? Isn't mathematical... [More]
Tags: analytics decision optimization |

## How Zara Really Grew Into the World s Largest Fashion Retailer
The New York Times recently published an interesting paper on How Zara Grew Into the World’s Largest Fashion Retailer . The paper describes the Fast Fashion business model that fuels Zara' growth. What the paper doesn't say is that mathematical optimization played a key role in enabling this business model. More precisely, Zara worked with MIT and UCLA on several business problems. There are few publications, I pasted their abstracts below. Clearance Pricing Optimization for a Fast-Fashion Retailer Fast-fashion
retailers such as Zara... [More]
Tags: zara customer analytics optimization retail |

## NP Or Not NP? That Is The Question
A recent blog entry on TSP and NP completeness made me write the long overdue entry I wanted to write about complexity of optimization problems. It comes in play when customers ask this simple question: My problem takes too long to solve, what can I do? I'm pretty sure most optimization professionals heard this question at least once. I already blogged about it in my It Is Too Slow entry without actually answering it (clever isn't it?) Here are various ways to answer it depending on your own agenda. As
an employee of one of the largest... [More]
Tags: analytics optimization complexity |

## Faster To What?
Marc-Andre Carle had a great tweet about INFORMS 2012 conference : # orms is definitely the science of better: each software presented at # INFORMS2012 is better than its competitors This triggered two interesting blog entries by Nathan Brixius and Marc-Andre Carle on what it means to be better for a mathematical optimization solver. Not surprisingly the discussion focuses rapidly on better= faster , given speed is the easiest to measure among the dimensions Nathan outlined. I agree with most of what Nathan and Marc-Andre wrote and I... [More]
Tags: development lifecycle optimization |

## CPLEX 12.5 Announce
Update on June 28 2015. A more recent release of CPLEX is now available, namely CPLEX 12.6.2 . We just announced a new release of IBM CPLEX Optimization Studio. Interested readers can read the full announcement letter . Planned dates for availability are: November 16, 2012: Electronic availability November 23, 2012: Media availability Highlights for this release include enhancements that help improve Integrated Development Environment (IDE) modeling productivity and optimizer performance.
IDE... [More]
Tags: release announce optimization |

## Optimization And Simulation Can Be Used Together
Optimization and Simulation are two different techniques that can be used to optimize a given system (system is used in a very broad sense here). In Optimization And Simulation Are Not The same I provided an example where optimization was the tool of choice when people might think that simulation was the tool of choice. As a conclusion of that post I discussed when optimization was best, and when simulation was best. What I didn't discuss though was when both should be used together. Here is such case. Simply put, simulation is required... [More]
Tags: simulation analytics optimization |

## Looking Under The Hood
Go to market (GTM) is something you must understand very quickly if you try to live from selling what you do. For optimization, we converged on a very simple view at IBM. There are two categories of customers, those who understand the technology, and those who don't. The formers are operations research (OR) practitioners and OR academics. The latter are line of business (LOB) people. Understanding how the technology work is not so much important to them. What is important is to understand what it enables. The OR market is well served by... [More]
Tags: optimization modeling |

## What Is The Gap?
My last blog entry triggered a discussion on twitter, where one said customers should not wait hours to get their problem solved. This made me think and I decided not to answer directly. Why? Because such discussion is meaningless until we agree on what "solving" means. Let's go back to the basics. Excuse me if I sound pedantic, but I had to go through the same explanation when I learned about mathematical programming (MP). Indeed, my background was in constraint programming (nobody is perfect) and learning MP was kind of... [More]
Tags: optimality optimization |

## Simulation And Optimization Are Not The Same
Selling optimization to happy users of simulation technology can be a tough nut to crack. Here is an example I find quite effective at opening eyes. Before diving into it let me start with a disclaimer. I am not trying to show that optimization is superior to simulation, nor am I trying to undermine the value of simulation. I simply want to make clear that simulation and optimization are two different things, each with its own value. There are cases where optimization is a better fit, as shown below. There are also cases where simulation... [More]
Tags: analytics simulation optimization |

## Issues Are Not Where One Think They Are
Where are the issues when one tries to use optimization to improve business? They may not lie where one think. My former colleague Laurent Perron (now at Google) splits the average time spent on optimization projects as follow in his CP 2011 invited talk : 50% Getting the right problem with the right people 25% Getting clean data 5% Solving the problem 20% Reporting the results/Explaining the implications One could argue about the exact split, but the broad picture is true as far as I can tell from my experience. I would... [More]
Tags: graphics analytics optimization |

## Is Optimization Really Part Of Analytics?
I looked at this question not so long ago but it is worth revisiting using the new analytics definition proposed by INFORMS . The proposed definition reads: "Analytics -- the scientific process of transforming data into insight for making better decisions." I like it. It is concise, well worded. Optimization seems covered by the "making better decisions" part. However, the new definition seems very (too
much?) data centric as stated by Ehsan Nikbakhsh on Or Exchange . Indeed, it clearly base decision making on... [More]
Tags: analytics optimization informs |

## Nice Graphics Always Win
I remember the first demo I made. It was last century, in 1990 if I remember well. No, I wasn't using punch cards. Believe it or not, but at that time there were computers with a mouse, a windowing system, decent programming languages, and a good OS called Unix. Yes, this old fashioned ancestor of Linux and Mac OS X. Even Internet existed back in those old days... Anyway, here was I, so proud that my solver was able to solve the zebra puzzle . The demo went as follows. I press... [More]
Tags: analytics optimization predictive |

## Interesting Optimization Blogs
Mathematical optimization is often called Operations Research (OR). I'll keep using mathematical optimization, or optimization in short, here, but if you want to learn more about it look for OR resources, for instance OR blogs. The good news here is that Mike Trick is maintaining a list of interesting blogs on his home page: http://mat.tepper.cmu.edu/blog/ Look for the right column, and you'll find a very interesting list. I won't reproduce it here, but all are worth a look at. It is truly a great list. Note that I am not saying this... [More]
Tags: blogs optimization learning |

## When Better Is Not Better
I don't know about you, but my experience is that all customers want the best solution to their business problem. And they want it rapidly, within some given time limit. I can't blame them, I do the same when I am the customer. However, if we have finite computing resources then there is a limit to what can be computed. If the business problem is so complex that it can't be solved exactly in the given time limit, then optimization won't compute the best possible solution (one among the optimal ones). What it will compute are good feasible... [More]
Tags: analytics optimization cplex |