with Tags:
optimization
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## No, The TSP Isn't NP Complete
Two recent blog posts discussing the Traveling Saleman Problem (TSP) led me to write this post. The two blog posts are What is Operations Research by Graham Kendall, and I’ve Been Everywhere (Optimally…) by Rob Jefferson. Both are worth reading (I wish I had written them..). These posts share two interesting properties: both discuss the TSP, and both make a slight mistake about the TSP. The same mistake occurs regularly in blog posts and even books. The mistake is... [More]
Tags: np analytics optimization |

## The Analytics Maturity Model
Update on Sept 21, 2015. An improved version of this model is presented in Analytics Maturity Models. 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... [More]
Tags: analytics optimization |

## Machine Learning As Prescriptive Analytics
I made a mistake about machine learning. Repeatedly. I said, and I wrote, that machine learning and predictive analytics were almost the same. To be more specific, my view was simple: analytics can be divided in four categories, exemplified below (see Analytics Landscape for details) I put machine learning near predictive analytics in this 2D landscape: Of course, I also put optimization as the queen of all analytics technologies as it yields best business value. What else would you expect from someone who spent nearly 3... [More]
Tags: machine_learning optimization analytics |

## 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 |

## 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 sub-grids that compose the grid (also called ""blocks") are pairwise different. The puzzle setter provides a partially completed grid, which... [More]
Tags: sudoku mathematical_optimization analytics optimization mathematics constraint_programming |

## 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 |

## What's New In Machine Learning?
What has changed in Machine Learning in the past 25 years? You may not care about this question. You may even not realize that Machine Learning as a technical and scientific field is older than 25 years. But I do care about this question. I care because I got a PhD in Machine Learning in 1990. I then moved sidetrack to work on constraint programming and mathematical optimization. I am back to machine learning since a couple of years, and I did ask myself this: is my PhD still relevant, or has Machine Learning... [More]
Tags: machine_learning analytics optimization |

## Prescriptive Analytics Is Easier And More Profitable Than Predictive Analytics
When you hear about algorithms these days, chances are that you hear about machine learning or predictive analytics. (Some make a distinction between machine learning and predictive analytics, but the distinction is not material for this post. I'll use both interchangeably here). A quick search returns recent discussion in the news of machine learning algorithms: Using Algorithms to Determine Character , When Algorithms Discriminate ,... [More]
Tags: optimization analytics predictive prescriptive |

## 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 |

## What Is The Difference Between SPSS And ILOG ?
Sure, I would have preferred a more generic title, such as What is the difference between predictive analytics and prescriptive analytics? What is the right decision management technology I need? instead of the IBM specific What is the difference between SPSS and ILOG? Truth is that this is the question people ask us when they understand that analytics may help them, The other questions above assume some knowledge of analytics and decision management, which isn't widely spread as of today. Let's look at the question... [More]
Tags: spss ilog predictive analytics prescriptive optimization |

## The Orange Juice Algorithm
Update on May 20. A recent Network World paper discloses that Coca Cola is indeed using our optimization software for the orange juice application I originally described in the blog entry below. A nice, recent, article in BloombergBusinessweek describes a very interesting use of mathematical optimization at Coke. Optimization is used to ensure that their Minute Maid and Simply Orange orange juices always taste the same. This paper caused some buzz because it is said that a problem of up to one quintillion... [More]
Tags: analytics optimization solution 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 |

## Is Optimization part of Analytics?
A recent Interview of Mike Rhodin on analytics has triggered several interesting discussions with my colleagues. Mike Rhodin is a senior executive at IBM who manages lots of the IBM software group activity on analytics. For instance all the business analytics team (COGNOS, SPSS, Algorithmics) at IBM reports to him. What he says about analytics can therefore be considered as the official view of IBM on analytics. There is a second reason that may look minor to you, but that isn't to me: I also report into Mike Rhodin's team. I'd better read... [More]
Tags: optimization analytics orms |

## CPLEX made easier for academics by removing licence key
Update on Dec 10, 2013 A more recent post on this topic can be found here . As part of our effort to make optimization pervasive we made our optimization products free for academic use two years ago. In order to do this we leveraged the IBM Academic Initiative. IBM Academic Initiative is a global program that faculty members, research professionals at accredited institutions, and qualifying members of standards organizations can join. Members can get full versions of a large selection of IBM software, including IBM ILOG... [More]
Tags: optimization analytics academic |

## Proactive Analytics
Why blog again about optimization and analytics? Because the current way of having optimization be part of analytics is a bit misleading. Let me first say I assume that optimization is part of analytics here. Granted, a previous post of mine supported a different view, but the idea that mathematical optimization is part of the broader category of analytics is gaining momentum. For instance, the INFORMS society is pushing for it with its... [More]
Tags: analytics optimization |