“Optimization is everywhere, even in the world of business,“ noted Prof Hans Mittelmann, a Professor of Computational Mathematics at Arizona State University in his public lecture on 30 January. His talk was titled: ‘Optimization is Ubiquitous- Even if Hidden under a Different Name’ which was about the various techniques and forms of optimization in business.

He began the lecture by giving the audience an overview of optimization and various projects related to optimization. He further discussed the most famous (discrete) optimization problem, the Travelling Salesman Problem (TSP) in more detail. Here, he pointed out two optimization projects that involved taking optimal tours through 120 cities in West Germany and taking a tour through 1152 villages in Germany, respectively.

He went on to highlight the diversity of real life optimization projects, their challenges, and impact in real life. He showed how TSP provides a platform for studying various problems related to routing of trucks for parcel post pick up, transportation and logistics. Furthermore, he discussed business analytics in more detail and pointed out some of its examples. Here he delved into the business analytics landscape and discussed what he is currently doing and what is currently being done by other researchers in the area.

“Business Analytics is a hot topic overtaking operations research, though both lose out to machine learning”, said Mittelmann

The lecture was attended by a mix of AIMS researchers,  research Master’s students, structured Master’s students and members of the public.

The public lecture forms part of AIMS South Africa Public Lecture Series where scientists engage with the general public about their research..