Data Science Research Group

Operational Research theme

Operational research applies analytical methods to improve decision making, such as encouraging customers to make environmentally-friendly delivery choices, or improving business efficiency by identifying wasted resource.

The theme’s research is multidisciplinary and of the highest standard in the broad areas of operational research (OR) and mathematical modelling including mathematical programming and heuristic optimisation which can cover:

  • linear and nonlinear programming,
  • combinatorial optimisation,
  • deterministic and stochastic dynamic programming,
  • algorithm (heuristics) design and analysis,
  • implementation of algorithms,
  • data analytics and applications in portfolio selection,
  • labour scheduling,
  • green distribution,
  • predictive modelling.

Papers by members of this theme have appeared in Operations Research Letters, Annals of Operational Research, The Journal of Operational Research Society, IEEE Transactions of Evolutionary Computation, ACM Transactions on Evolutionary Computation, The European Journal of Operational Research, ACM Transaction on Algorithms, Discrete Applied Mathematics, Theoretical Computer Science, Random Structures and Algorithms, and Transportation Research among others.

The work of members of this theme has attracted a lot of attention from industry. This has led to several KTP research projects: with the Port of Felixstowe, addressing the problem of labour scheduling; with MSXi, which developed predictive models for the automotive industry; and with Ocado, which addressed issues of green distribution and optimum routing. It also cooperated as co-investigators in the BLG-DRC ESRC funded project and within a KTP in collaboration with CSEE.

The theme is a leader in the design and analysis of Nature-Inspired heuristics. Professor Salhi’s Plant Propagation Algorithm is receiving great attention as a very simple and yet very effective heuristic to solve intractable problems as often arise in practical applications. Dr Yang is an expert in stochastic dynamic programming with a good track record in its application in industry. Her research leads in green transportation and distribution, that uses pricing of time-windowed deliveries and routing. She also has expertise in the theoretical aspects of algorithms. Dr Amanatidis is a theoretical computer scientist with interests in heuristic optimisation.

The theme aims to grow whilst remaining a leader and innovating further in the areas of optimisation, and algorithm design and analysis, while achieving more impact both in the theoretical aspect of OR and its applications.

Recent publications



Xinan Yang
Insight: Improving the efficiency of online grocery deliveries

We've worked with Ocado to develop a system that improves route efficiency, helping reduce emissions and air pollution, while reducing costs for shoppers.

Read more about this project