Programme - Plenary Speakers

Plenary speaker: Gilbert Laporte


Gilbert Laporte obtained his Ph.D. in Operations Research at the London School of Economics in 1975. He is Professor of Operations Research at HEC Montréal, Canada Research Chair in Distribution Management, adjunct Professor at Molde University College, the University of Bilkent, the University of Alberta, and visiting professor at the University of Southampton. He is also a member of the Interuniversity Research Centre on Enterprise Networks, Logistics and Transportation (CIRRELT) and founding member of the Groupe d'études et de recherche en analyse des décisions (GERAD). He has authored or coauthored 15 books, as well as more than 400 scientific articles in combinatorial optimization, mostly in the areas of vehicle routing, location and timetabling. He has received many scientific awards including the Pergamon Prize (United Kingdom) in 1987, the 1994 Merit Award of the Canadian Operational Research Society, the CORS Practice Prize on three occasions. In 1999, he obtained the ACFAS Jacques-Rousseau Prize for Interdisciplinarity, and the President's Medal (Operational Research Society, United Kingdom). In 2001, he was awarded the Pedagogy Prize by HEC Montréal. He has been a member of the Royal Society of Canada since 1998, and Fellow of INFORMS since 2005. In 2007 he received the Innis-Gérin medal from the Royal Society of Canada. In 2009 he was awarded the Gérard-Parizeau Prize, he was inducted as the 42nd Honorary Member of the INFORMS International Omega Rho Society, and he received the Robert M. Herman Lifetime Achievement Award in Transportation Science from the Transportation Science and Logistics Society of INFORMS.

Talk Title - Scheduling issues in vehicle routing

Most vehicle routing problems are solved with a distance minimization objective, subject to side constraints, without any consideration for vehicle scheduling. Yet, there are many practical situations where scheduling plays an important role and cannot be dissociated from the routing decisions. In this talk I will describe several routing problems with a scheduling component on which I have worked over the past few years, together with a variety of colleagues and students. These problems arise in 1) pickup and delivery operations, including dial-a-ride problems; 2) ship routing and scheduling; 3) green vehicle routing; 4) long-haul vehicle routing with driver working rules; 5) synchronized arc routing for snow plowing; 6) synchronized arc and node routing. The talk will be centered on problem descriptions and insights, as opposed to algorithms.

Plenary speaker: Greet Vanden Berghe


Greet Vanden Berghe obtained a masters degree in Metals and Materials Science from the KU Leuven Engineering faculty. Her research focus evolved from materials science towards combinatorial optimisation and automated decision support. She obtained a PhD from the University of Gent in 2002. Her PhD research was conducted mainly at KAHO Sint-Lieven, in strong cooperation with industry and with the ASAP group of the University of Nottingham. The work resulted in a model for hospital nurse scheduling, including a set of efficient algorithms.

Greet Vanden Berghe currently holds the position of senior lecturer at KAHO Sint-Lieven and is chair of both the Computer Science group at KAHO Sint-Lieven and of the KAHO division of CODeS at KU Leuven. Her research activities include

  • developing efficient heuristic approaches to real life combinatorial optimisation problems, mainly in the health care and logistics domains,
  • developing effective adaptive heuristics, e.g. hyperheuristics, to a wide range of combinatorial optimisation problems,
  • developing generic approaches to the class of structured problems, i.e. problems incorporating both components from scheduling and routing, rostering and scheduling, etc.

Talk Title - Personnel scheduling: Challenging combinatorial optimisation problems with a personnel scheduling component

Personnel scheduling can become a particularly difficult optimisation problem due to human factors. And yet: people working in healthcare, transportation and other round the clock service regimes perform their duties based on a schedule that was often manually constructed. The unrewarding manual scheduling task deserves more attention from the timetabling community so as to support computation of fair and good quality results. The talk will touch upon a set of particular characteristics of personnel rostering problems for which, for the time being, only very scattered models and algorithms exist.

Besides being hard to solve, personnel scheduling never occurs as an isolated problem in real life. The interconnectedness of personnel scheduling and other vertical decision levels of the organisation constitutes the second focus of the talk. Not only is it difficult to produce an acceptable solution to a personnel rostering problem, it is also cumbersome to detect possible infeasibilities or conflicting constraints, caused by decisions at a higher level than the scheduling level. Part of the talk will be dedicated to mutual parameters at the manpower, staffing and rostering level.

Next to the vertical influences, personnel scheduling cannot be ignored as an optimisation problem that is influenced by other optimisation problems in an organisation, e.g. patient admission scheduling, operating theatre scheduling and personnel scheduling cannot really be solved independently. Another interesting set of problems consist of strongly intertwined personnel rostering and other problems, such as vehicle routing and rostering combined in the home care scheduling problem.

The talk will be concluded by presenting challenges and future research opportunities in the personnel scheduling domain.

Plenary speaker: Paul McMullan


Paul McMullan is a Lecturer in the school of Computer Science and a member of the Knowledge and Data Engineering Cluster at The Queen's University of Belfast. He is also a director of EventMAP Limited, a commercial spin-out from Queen's University and the University of Nottingham. His research interests include scheduling, optimisation, heuristics and real-world applications. He is also very keen on knowledge transfer from academia to industry and has been instrumental in applying research-based optimisation techniques to benefit many industrial problems.

Talk Title - Research in Practice - The Commercial Challenge

EventMAP Limited was created in 2002 as a vehicle to allow real world practical timetable challenges to be captured and addressed by the advances made through theory. As highlighted previously, existing research was based on models of the real world, but was seen as too simplistic in representing actual real world problems. The experience of the company over the last decade has helped to extend this model in such a way that leading edge research can contribute to fulfilling the requirements of staff within educational institutions, both in timetabling and resource planning. Some of these experiences and insights are shared in this presentation.

The presentation will concentrate on the key challenges, both technical and “political”, which have been encountered on this mission. The elicitation and findings of the data models, requirements and goals from institutional timetablers (as compared to familiar research models) are described. A number of key and unique projects will be used to provide examples and details, with individual scenarios of how user interface and “semi-automated” timetabling and guidance tools have been essential. This will form the basis of a discussion on what is expected from a non-academic user for both input (e.g. rules, tolerances, algorithm parameters) and output, e.g. assessing solution quality.