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Analytics and Optimization

Analytics is about turning data into decisions. As A&O research group we cover the whole process, with a special focus on optimization.

We are specialized in stochastic processes such as queueing systems and their controlled counterpart, Markov decision processes. We also cover related fields such as combinatorics, simulation, machine learning and statistics, because you have to combine them in the analytical process. A considerable part of our research is in collaboration with the Stochastics group at CWI.

Research questions in these technical fields are often inspired by practical problems found in different application domains. As such we try to be at the forefront of new developments in both application domains and solution methods.

For example, we use machine learning techniques to optimize call center scheduling and advanced statistical techniques to analyze group behavior in public transportation.

Our main application focus is on various types of services. Services are characterized by the impact of customers on the product. Because of the variability in customer demand and preferences randomness is an essential component of mathematical models of services.

An major focus of our work is in the area of health care, especially ambulance planning, nursing homes and hospitals. Important work has been done on the planning and dynamic realocation of ambulances, leading to significantly increased service levels. Within hospitals we are specialized in different parts of the typical patient flow, from appointment scheduling to dynamic bed capacity models. In this area we cooperate with the VU medical center under flag of PICA, the joint health care logistics center. A final research area is long-term care, especially home care and nursing homes.

Another important line of research is revenue management in the travel industry (airlines, hotel reservations, and car rentals) and in the retail industry (optimal markdowns and advertisement optimization) in which dynamic learning and pricing are closely intertwined. We are involved in finding new ways for demand unconstraining and optimal pricing.

Call centers have long be a research focus of our group. Work on queueing models, optimization and forecasting comes together in this application area which, surprisingly, attracted some of the best researchers in queueing and stochastic processes over the last decades.

Next to these more traditional fields, for which we often find innovative solution approaches, some of our researchers are specialized in emerging fields which thank their existence to the current abundance of data. We would like to mention social media, (public) transportation and human resource management. Innovative research projects have been done and are being done in areas such as the detection of unexpected behaviour on twitter, the analysis of employee profiles and the detection of changes in group behaviour in public transportation.

Staff members: