Optimisation Research Centre

Optimisation is concerned with methods for finding the ‘best’ option when one is faced with a huge range of possible options. More formally, it deals with maximising (or minimising) a function of some decision variables, subject to various constraints.

Optimisation problems arise in a variety of contexts, having numerous applications not only in Operational Research, Operations Management and Quantitative Finance, but also in Mathematics, Physics, Statistics, Computer Science, Engineering, Computational Biology and even Sports! Optimisation is a truly multi-disciplinary field.

Several academic staff members at Lancaster have a strong interest in optimisation:

  • Professor Richard Eglese is mainly interested in practical problems which arise in the context of logistics, such as vehicle routing problems and facility location problems. He uses mainly heuristic solution methods, especially tabu search and simulated annealing, but occasionally uses exact methods such as constraint programming and integer programming.
  • Professor Matthias Ehrgott works mainly on multi-objective combinatorial optimisation problems, and in particular on algorithms for producing complete and non-redundant sets of pareto-optimal solutions. He also has an interest in applications of optimisation to both medicine and transportation.
  • Professor Kevin GlazebrookDr Christopher Kirkbride and Dr Peter Jacko work on optimal policies for stochastic resource-allocation problems.  The classical approach to solving such problems, stochastic dynamic programming, becomes computationally infeasible once the system reaches a certain level of complexity. Current research focuses on alternative methods, based for example on Lagrangian relaxation, to develop near-optimal policies.
  • Professor Konstantinos G Zografos is interested in developing models and algorithms related to the optimisation of transportation systems and logistics. His current work is focused on vehicle routing and scheduling, itinerary planning, facility location, airport operations, and emergency response logistics. His research interests also include supply chain management and project management.
  • Professor Adam LetchfordDr Konstantinos Kaparis and Dr Trivikram Dokka work on exact solution methods and bounding procedures for hard optimisation problems. They work mainly on discrete (aka combinatorial) problems, but also occasionally on continuous (aka global) problems. The solution methods are typically based on linear, quadratic or semidefinite programming.
  • Professor Stein W Wallace's principal interest is in decision making under uncertainty.  He has worked with a broad range of applications, including portfolio management, energy, telecommunications and project scheduling.  He has worked on algorithmic and modelling issues in stochastic programming.
  • Professor Mike Wright researches into the development, analysis and implementation of metaheuristic techniques for solving complex real-life combinatorial problems with several objectives. Applications include problems arising in sport such as timetabling cricket fixtures. He is also interested in other applications of OR in Sports, including the analysis of tactical decisions in sports using dynamic programming.

For more details, see the respective staff web pages.

Potential topics

Whilst the group is always willing to discuss the ideas of potential students, there are also several ongoing research projects that students may want to get involved in. These are listed below. On the following pages further details of each project are given.

PhD student members are listed here.

If you would like to apply for a PhD, please see our PhD admissions page.