Math 441 Section 101
Mathematical Modeling: Discrete Optimization Problems
Online Course Material 


Hope you had a great summer. This course should be a lot of fun for students. It can be considered a capstone course, giving students an opportunity to use their mathematical maturity to work on `real world' problems. It also serves a Arts degree `research intensive approved course' which is a degree requirement for a B.A. If you are in a joint degree with another specialty in Arts such as Economics, you may be taking `research intensive approved course' in that other department but you are more than welcome to take this course.

The course has a reasonable amount of work and certainly the project takes a lot of time but students typically enjoy the experience. Also there is no final exam! This course does have MATH 340 as a prerequisite. You can discuss with me if this is missing but you are bringing other strengths.

This course uses discrete optimization techniques such as Linear programming and Integer Programming. We will be using software (LINDO, LINGO) for assignments and possibly the project. The course is organized with 50% for assignments and 50% for a project. The project is done in groups of at most 3 and a polished write up is expected. There is no final exam. Contact me if you have questions before selecting this course.

The Course Outline gives a timeline for projects. It is important that groups and projects are chosen early. I will expect project proposals by Wednesday Oct 5. We will have about 15 minute group presentations as progress reports the week of October 28. Aim to have a nice overview of the problem (this will probably be useful later on when you are doing your write up) and give some sample input/output to indicate your progress to date.

Some changes are possible but I wish the groups to begin exploring their project early. It is a chance for you to see how your group should be organized to produce a report. Hopefully you will have some initial computations done and are aware of the difficulties you might encounter. You should contemplate the scope of your project. Consultation with me is essential. I can help you identify the questions that you might focus on and indicate parts of the project that are likely to be hopeless. It is your responsibility to make the project interesting for me. There is no `right' answer. You might find useful information in the handout Project Information.

Group Projects for 2015
  • Rohin, Judah and Brandon will work on the Markowitz Portfolio model. Presented Nov 2. They have a 10x10 covariance matrix to play with.
  • Yuanyuan, Bassem and Matthias are working together exploring a game Tarneeb (a Middle Eastern game). They will present Nov 4.
  • Liuke, Jiaqi and Jianfei will work on a cattle farming problem. Presentation Nov 4.
  • Lei, Hui Shen and Wanqi were going to work on a production problem with a embedded transshipment problem. They are now working on a multi-dimensional bin packing problem.. Presentation Oct 31.
  • Daniel, Jane (Hua) and Eric (ShiQi) may be exploring optimal exam scheduling. Presentation Oct 31.
  • Xiaomeng, JiaJun and Daniyar are interested in exploring a diet problem eating at restaurants. McD or Sushi?. They presented Nov 2. McD and Togo were competitive at about $33 per day.
  • Winson (Guanfeng), Yidan and Ziwei will work on a diet problem; optimal grocery selection. Presented Nov 2. Only about $10 per day.
  • Chloe, Manni and Natasha are interested in exploring a game that involves cute cats. They will present Nov 4.
  • Silvia, Beini and Tianwen are interested in cutting rugs. They will present Nov 4.
  • Sylvester, Naqsh and Billy presented Oct 31. They considered 3 ways to compute useful splits either by integer linear programming, simulated annealing and genetic algorithms.

  • The final project is due Friday November 25.

    Grading this course can be a challenge. It is disconcerting for students that they won't get 100% for the correct answer. We give the top marks only to those with clear and interesting writeups. The average in the course will probably be in the low 70's. The overall grading distribution will be reminiscent of an Arts course. I expect many good results but only the occasional stellar writeup.

    Some LINDO data files LINDO files

    The notes look authoritative when typed so be wary. They may look perfect but may still contain errors! I don't have an editor.
    I arrive most days by 9:00. I am scheduled to teach 10:00-11:00 MWF. I typically do not read my email from home (i.e. evenings and weekends).
  • Course Outline: grading scheme etc.