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Mathematical Sciences

Research Group: Operational Research

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Operational Research (OR) is the discipline of applying advanced analytical methods to help make better decisions. For more information, visit the OR Society and INFORMS websites.

Group Overview

We are a committed and vibrant team of more than 30 academic staff and postgraduate students.  We collaborate with more than 150 industrial partners across the world to enable impact arising from our research.

Operational Research in Southampton ranks 2nd in the UK, based on the 'power' benchmark as calculated from the results of the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise, and 48th world-wide in the latest QS World University Rankings. In the recent Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014, 100% of our research was deemed to be world leading or internationally excellent in terms of originality, significance, and rigour.

Our group runs three MSc programmes, Operational Research, Operational Research and Finance and Operational Research with Statistics and teaches an extensive portfolio of both undergraduate and postgraduate courses, as well as undertaking consultancy work for external organisations. Each summer, our MSc students undertake a three months summer project, working on a real-world problem. With the support of leading academic researchers, they apply modelling, analytical and mathematical techniques to analyse a wide range of business opportunities and challenges.

 

Computational Optimisation

Computational Optimisation

Computational optimisation is widely used in science, engineering, economics, and industry. Researchers in our group develop cutting-edge theories and algorithms that push the limits in optimisation. Much of the work is supported by various outside organisations and carried out with their collaboration. Recent examples include the European Space Agency, EPSRC, Boeing Defense, ThyssenKrupp, Alcatel-Lucent, Bell Labs, Qualcomm, Brussels Capital-Region, EPSRC etc. Our current research interests include decision making under uncertainty, optimisation in data dimension reduction and visualization, multi-objective and bi-level optimisation, discrete optimisation, nonsmooth optimisation, optimisation methods in game theory and optimisation in finance.

Game Theory

Game Theory

Game theory is a mathematical discipline that studies settings involving multiple decision makers (players). Two major branches of game theory are cooperative game theory and non-cooperative game theory depending on whether players are collaborating or competing against each other. In cooperative game theory, players can form coalitions to jointly achieve some objectives which are associated by some payoff values (representing the costs/profits). Our research group focuses largely on how payoffs are shared among players in a fair and stable way and how coalitions are formed. Specifically, we develop computational/optimisation techniques for computing solutions of large games. We also study stochastic games in which the characteristic function is uncertain. Recent applications include supply chain coordination and multi-agent systems optimisation in finance.

Healthcare Modelling

Healthcare Modelling

Healthcare modelling has been a feature of our research for many years, in collaboration with colleagues from the Business School (through CORMSIS). Our modelling is both stochastic and deterministic in nature, and ranges from the spread of diseases, to flows of patients within healthcare systems and to logistics. Current research areas include patient flow modelling, supply chain and logistics in healthcare and infectious disease modelling.

Revenue Management

Revenue Management

Revenue management is the process of setting prices so as to maximise a company’s revenue. Airlines are perhaps the most well-known users of Revenue Management but its use in other less traditional industries, e.g. online advertising, fashion retailing, is growing. With the widespread availability of the Internet, it is now possible for consumers to access pricing information far more easily; consequently price competition has become a much more important factor in a consumer’s choice of which product to buy. We focus on the modelling and algorithms development to solve such problems.

Stochastic Programming and Simulation

Stochastic Programming and Simulation

Stochastic programing and processes represent an important part of our research. For the optimisation side, our work includes developing and/or investigating new mathematical models which capture the uncertainty and other features such as competition, equilibrium and hierarchical relationships between decision makers. As for the simulation aspect, we work on the construction of stochastic simulation models for the analysis of airline ticket pricing, revenue management models; epidemiological models, especially TB and HIV; healthcare modelling; Markov combat models; models of fire service emergency cover.

Transportation and Supply Chain

Transportation and Supply Chain

We are interested in applying exact and heuristic techniques to tackle a wide range of transportation, supply chain and logistics problems, including travelling salesman and vehicle routing problems, production planning and scheduling, and inventory control. Examples of methods we have implemented are mathematical programming, stochastic processes, exact and heuristic algorithms for combinatorial optimisation, artificial intelligence, game theory and Laplace transforms.

Key Facts

We are a highly active team of internationally recognized researchers, with strong links to the University of Adelaide, Beijing University, University of Bologna, Bremen University, University of California Davis, University of Coimbra, Cornell University, Instituda Matematica Pura et Aplicada Rio de Janeiro, University of Freiberg, Leuven University, MIT, University of Montreal, Technical University Munich, the Newton Institute at Cambridge University, University of Seville, and organisations such as Barclaycard, Boeing UK, British Airways, Eurocontrol, the European Space Agency (ESA), Ford, Lucent, the National Air Traffic Service (NATS), NHS, the Office of National Statistics (ONS), the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI), Thomas Cook, TUI, Virgin Media, as well as others.

Operational Research at Southampton is a leading partner within the £5.4m EPSRC-funded LANCS initiative and the EPSRC-funded National Taught-course Centre in Operational Research (NATCOR), which provides in-depth training for PhD students in OR.

Our MSc summer project scheme has been running for over 30 years. Each year, over 60 students work on projects for external organisations.

We hold an annual specialist recruitment fair, usually early November, open to employers looking to recruit students with analytical skills, such as mathematics, statistics, and Operational Research.

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