SAMSI Brings Together Researchers in Optimization for Opening Workshop

20160830_091323Many problems in mathematics, statistics, science, engineering, and everyday life revolve around the choice of a best selection to achieve a specified goal: finding the fastest way to the airport, or the best rice cooker for under $100. From a mathematical point of view, optimization often amounts to finding the maximal value of a function.

This vibrant SAMSI program has produced an unprecedented number of 13 research working groups, which are concerned with fundamental methodology and computational methods for optimization, and applications of optimization to radio therapy; decision analysis; energy and the environment;  and electronic structure models in physics, chemistry and materials science; among many others.

It is the mission of the 2016-17 SAMSI Optimization program to capitalize on and advance this synergy. The program aims to guide the interaction between mathematics and statistics, so as to produce benefits for each area individually, but also combined.

More than 90 students and postdocs attended the Summer School in August 2016, which featured a lively mix of tutorials and hands-on interactive labs, where participants were introduced to state-of-the-art software. The Opening Workshop two weeks later signaled the official start of the research program. The number of participants, more than 130, was limited only by the seating capacity of the lecture room. There was a large variety of presentations, with speakers from academia, of course, but also industry (the oil and gas company ExxonMobil, and the online advertising company MaxPoint Interactive Inc.) and the National Labs (Argonne, Sandia-Livermore, and Sandia-Albuquerque). A special two-hour session gave participants a glimpse at the challenging research problems faced by the National Labs.

Much like attendees from the Summer School, feedback from the participants was overwhelmingly positive.20160829_174219

A number of mid-program events are in the works. The Workshop on the Interface of Statistics and Optimization (WISO) in February 2017 is planned as a high-profile event. It will be lived-streamed for a national and international audience and will feature the pioneers in this area, by giving their work prominent visibility to a broad audience.

Overall, the researchers in attendance got a chance to see how their specialized research could contribute to these industries. The Optimization Program runs from August through the end of May in 2017. For those interested in learning more about this program and its various working groups, visit: