Operations Research


Every day we make thousands of decisions. Some of them are small and personal like what to have for breakfast or which socks to put on. Others are larger and influence many people, such as decisions about the assignment of orders to manufacturing plants, deciding on the schedule of delivery vans or design of the schedules for day and night shifts at a hospital.

In today’s world, decisions are often supported by data. We have more data available today than at any other point in history: Ninety percent of the data currently available has been created in the last couple of years, and currently we produce roughly 2.5 quintillion bytes a day. The use of data to guide decision making has led to the rise of the Data Science discipline, where data, computer science and important mathematical fundamentals meet each other.

An integral part of Data Science is Operations Research, which is an interdisciplinary science for quantitative decision support. It emerged as an independent discipline during the Second World War, where it helped the British and American armies to improve their military operations. Probably the two most famous examples are the use of Operations Research to defeat Germany’s U-boats and to repel Hitler’s Luftwaffe. Today, Operations Research plays a pivotal role in almost every industry, whether it is setting the price on an air ticket, moving goods in a cheap and safe manner or ensuring a profitable return on your pension funds.

Operations Research supports decision making by building mathematical models of the studied system. Mathematical tools like linear and integer programming, heuristics and simulation enable important decisions to be made quantitatively. Models and methods, however, often become complex when designed to accurately reflect the size and structure of real-life problems. Intractable models are often encountered. Hence, the development of new solution methods is an important activity.

The Operations Research group has a holistic approach to Operations Research by covering all phases of an Operations Research project: From problem analysis, to model building and the development of new solutions methods to, finally, interpreting the obtained results.

The group actively engages in a wide set of application areas like financial engineering, manpower planning, sustainable transportation planning, health care operations and energy systems planning. The group has established strong research traditions in public transport. Within maritime logistics the group is recognized as internationally leading.

In addition to specific application areas, the group also has a focus on generic tools and methods spanning the application areas and look into the use of e.g. machine learning to strengthen the optimization methods that are part of the Operations Research toolbox.

The group regularly publishes in high-ranking journals such as Networks, Transportation Science, European Journal on Operational Research and Management Science. Several members of the group are associate editors of reputable Operations Research journals and they are frequently members of scientific/organizing committees for conferences.

The group maintains extensive collaborations with and wide contacts to industry and societal organisations (like EURO, the European Association of Operational Research Societies) and to leading academic partners. Some of the main partners are:  Maersk Line, APM Terminals, DSB, Banedanmark, LEGO, Lundbeck, The Capital Region and the Region of Zealand, AMCS, Vattenfall, Technical University of Munich and University of Hamburg (Germany), Erasmus University of Rotterdam (the Netherlands), KU Leuven (Belgium), Bologna University (Italy), University of Auckland (New Zealand), NTNU (Norway), University of Illinois at Chicago (USA), University of Montreal (Canada).