The load planning problem is a critical challenge in service network design for parcel carriers: it decides how many trailers (or loads) to assign for dispatch over time between pairs of terminals. Another key challenge is to determine a flow plan, which specifies how parcel volumes are assigned to planned loads. This paper considers the Dynamic Load Planning Problem (DLPP) that considers both flow and load planning challenges jointly to adjust loads and flows as the demand forecast changes over time before the day of operations. The paper aims at developing a decision-support tool to inform planners making these decisions at terminals across the network. The paper formulates the DLPP as a MIP and shows that it admits a large number of symmetries in a network where each commodity can be routed through primary and alternate paths. As a result, an optimization solver may return fundamentally different solutions to closely related problems, confusing planners and reducing trust in optimization. To remedy this limitation, the paper proposes a Goal-Directed Optimization that eliminates those symmetries by generating optimal solutions staying close to a reference plan. The paper also proposes an optimization proxy to address the computational challenges of the optimization models. The proxy combines a machine learning model and a feasibility restoration model and finds solutions that satisfy real-time constraints imposed by planners-in-the-loop. An extensive computational study on industrial instances shows that the optimization proxy is around 10 times faster than the commercial solver in obtaining the same quality solutions and orders of magnitude faster for generating solutions that are consistent with each other. The proposed approach also demonstrates the benefits of the DLPP for load consolidation, and the significant savings obtained from combining machine learning and optimization.
This article is a short introduction to AI4OPT, the NSF AI Institute for Advances in Optimization. AI4OPT fuses AI and Optimization, inspired by end-use cases in supply chains, energy systems, chip design and manufacturing, and sustainable food systems. AI4OPT also applies its "teaching the teachers" philosophy to provide longitudinal educational pathways in AI for engineering.
This paper details an outlook on modern constraint programming (CP) education through the lens of a CP instructor. A general overview of current CP courses and instructional methods is presented, with a focus on online and virtually-delivered courses. This is followed by a discussion of the novel approach taken to introductory CP education for engineering students at large scale at the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) in Atlanta, GA, USA. The paper summarizes important takeaways from the Georgia Tech CP course and ends with a discussion on the future of CP education. Some ideas for instructional methods, promotional methods, and organizational changes are proposed to aid in the long-term growth of CP education.
The paper proposes a novel End-to-End Learning and Repair (E2ELR) architecture for training optimization proxies for economic dispatch problems. E2ELR combines deep neural networks with closed-form, differentiable repair layers, thereby integrating learning and feasibility in an end-to-end fashion. E2ELR is also trained with self-supervised learning, removing the need for labeled data and the solving of numerous optimization problems offline. E2ELR is evaluated on industry-size power grids with tens of thousands of buses using an economic dispatch that co-optimizes energy and reserves. The results demonstrate that the self-supervised E2ELR achieves state-of-the-art performance, with optimality gaps that outperform other baselines by at least an order of magnitude.
This workshop Report Out focuses on the foundational elements of trustworthy AI and OR technology, and how to ensure all AI and OR systems implement these elements in their system designs. Four sessions on various topics within Trustworthy AI were held, these being Fairness, Explainable AI/Causality, Robustness/Privacy, and Human Alignment and Human-Computer Interaction. Following discussions of each of these topics, workshop participants also brainstormed challenge problems which require the collaboration of AI and OR researchers and will result in the integration of basic techniques from both fields to eventually benefit societal needs.
Most US school districts draw "attendance boundaries" to define catchment areas that assign students to schools near their homes, often recapitulating neighborhood demographic segregation in schools. Focusing on elementary schools, we ask: how much might we reduce school segregation by redrawing attendance boundaries? Combining parent preference data with methods from combinatorial optimization, we simulate alternative boundaries for 98 US school districts serving over 3 million elementary-aged students, minimizing White/non-White segregation while mitigating changes to travel times and school sizes. Across districts, we observe a median 14% relative decrease in segregation, which we estimate would require approximately 20\% of students to switch schools and, surprisingly, a slight reduction in travel times. We release a public dashboard depicting these alternative boundaries (https://www.schooldiversity.org/) and invite both school boards and their constituents to evaluate their viability. Our results show the possibility of greater integration without significant disruptions for families.
This paper analyzes the impact of COVID-19 related lockdowns in the Atlanta, Georgia metropolitan area by examining commuter patterns in three periods: prior to, during, and after the pandemic lockdown. A cellular phone location dataset is utilized in a novel pipeline to infer the home and work locations of thousands of users from the Density-based Spatial Clustering of Applications with Noise (DBSCAN) algorithm. The coordinates derived from the clustering are put through a reverse geocoding process from which word embeddings are extracted in order to categorize the industry of each work place based on the workplace name and Point of Interest (POI) mapping. Frequencies of commute from home locations to work locations are analyzed in and across all three time periods. Public health and economic factors are discussed to explain potential reasons for the observed changes in commuter patterns.
Disclosure avoidance (DA) systems are used to safeguard the confidentiality of data while allowing it to be analyzed and disseminated for analytic purposes. These methods, e.g., cell suppression, swapping, and k-anonymity, are commonly applied and may have significant societal and economic implications. However, a formal analysis of their privacy and bias guarantees has been lacking. This paper presents a framework that addresses this gap: it proposes differentially private versions of these mechanisms and derives their privacy bounds. In addition, the paper compares their performance with traditional differential privacy mechanisms in terms of accuracy and fairness on US Census data release and classification tasks. The results show that, contrary to popular beliefs, traditional differential privacy techniques may be superior in terms of accuracy and fairness to differential private counterparts of widely used DA mechanisms.
The Flexible Job-shop Scheduling Problem (FJSP) is an important combinatorial optimization problem that arises in manufacturing and service settings. FJSP is composed of two subproblems, an assignment problem that assigns tasks to machines, and a scheduling problem that determines the starting times of tasks on their chosen machines. Solving FJSP instances of realistic size and composition is an ongoing challenge even under simplified, deterministic assumptions. Motivated by the inevitable randomness and uncertainties in supply chains, manufacturing, and service operations, this paper investigates the potential of using a deep learning framework to generate fast and accurate approximations for FJSP. In particular, this paper proposes a two-stage learning framework 2SLFJSP that explicitly models the hierarchical nature of FJSP decisions, uses a confidence-aware branching scheme to generate appropriate instances for the scheduling stage from the assignment predictions and leverages a novel symmetry-breaking formulation to improve learnability. 2SL-FJSP is evaluated on instances from the FJSP benchmark library. Results show that 2SL-FJSP can generate high-quality solutions in milliseconds, outperforming a state-of-the-art reinforcement learning approach recently proposed in the literature, and other heuristics commonly used in practice.
This paper reconsiders end-to-end learning approaches to the Optimal Power Flow (OPF). Existing methods, which learn the input/output mapping of the OPF, suffer from scalability issues due to the high dimensionality of the output space. This paper first shows that the space of optimal solutions can be significantly compressed using principal component analysis (PCA). It then proposes Compact Learning, a new method that learns in a subspace of the principal components before translating the vectors into the original output space. This compression reduces the number of trainable parameters substantially, improving scalability and effectiveness. Compact Learning is evaluated on a variety of test cases from the PGLib with up to 30,000 buses. The paper also shows that the output of Compact Learning can be used to warm-start an exact AC solver to restore feasibility, while bringing significant speed-ups.