CWI and Dassault Systèmes recently started a collaboration in the field of optimization technology for businesses. With the increase of data, companies face ever growing large-scale optimization problems. As classical methods reach their limits, Dassault Systèmes has been developing ‘smart heuristics’ to cope with these. It now wants to investigate the scalability, universality and efficiency of these methods more rigorously and develop new ones, using CWI’s expertise in this field in a Public-Private Partnership (PPS) for four years.
Guido Schäfer, group leader of the Networks & Optimization research group at CWI and a professor at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, says: "If our exact methods turn out to be too slow to solve the problem optimally, we often use heuristics to speed them up. Basically, such heuristics make use of some ‘educated guesses’ to find a solution very quickly. Though these solutions do not generally reach optimality, they are often good enough for all practical purposes. The goal of our collaboration with Dassault Systèmes is to systematically investigate why and when certain heuristics work well, and to develop new heuristics that perform provably well for large optimization problems."
Schäfer adds: "Application areas are, for instance, large supply-demand problems with complex multiple routings, variable lot sizes, and campaign planning, where some heuristics seem to work well and have proven to provide significant value to Dassault Systèmes' customers — but we do not understand yet well why they do so. Other, more sophisticated search heuristics appear to work very well in certain settings, for example in vehicle routing problems with time windows, but sometimes they perform very poorly. Can we identify under which circumstances they perform well? Could we find good design principles to guarantee some sort of ‘universal applicability’ of these heuristics, without sacrificing too much in efficiency?"
He concludes: "Dassault Systèmes has a lot of experience with such applications and a selection of testing and benchmark instances, which serves as an ideal basis for this project. CWI will bring in its expertise on mathematical modeling and programming, algorithm design and performance analysis. We look very much forward to the collaboration."
World Leader in 3D Design & Engineering Software, Dassault Systèmes provides PLM & 3D Modelling Software, Simulation Apps and Industry Solutions. Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica (CWI) is the national research institute for mathematics and computer science in the Netherlands. It is part of the Institutes Organisation of NWO.