Making an Impact

Do you work in a consultancy, business or public sector organization, applying O.R. or analytics to help your organization or its customers operate better?

Then “Making an Impact” is for you.

“Making an Impact” includes a wide variety of sessions aimed at helping practitioners to do a better job.  It is organized by the EURO Working Group on Practice of OR, the network for O.R. practitioners in industry, consultancy, government and beyond (for more information about EWG-POR, see here).

At EURO2018 you will be able to:

  • Explore the challenges every practitioner faces, and share solutions
  • Try out new techniques – are they any good for you
  • See case studies showcasing important applications
  • Exchange ideas and expertise with people in similar fields
  • Meet leading academics and discover what they can do for you – and what you can do for them
  • Build your network amongst like-minded professionals

Participate in interactive sessions planned specifically for practitioners and everyone interested in improving practice, including all the following sessions and initiatives. Please, help us spread the word. Feel free to use this flyer.

Often brilliant optimization results are not viewed as such by various stakeholder during OR implementations. There can be multiple reasons for this. Is the solution of high quality (low cost, high revenue), but are the stakeholders just not used to the solution which is presented to them? Or did we not optimize the actual problem that needed to be solved? Maybe there are conflicts in requirements: the stakeholders may not be aligned on what they find the best solution to their problem.

The challenge in practice is how to tackle the problems mentioned above. This means first of all finding which problem we actually have to solve. It also means that stakeholders have to accept that the solution presented to them could be different than they expect, but could still be of high quality when looking at the goals. Therefore it is essential to this process to define the success criteria. When multiple success criteria are defined, it needs to be identified what the prioritization is, especially when there are conflicting requirements. Quantifying the results and comparing them to a baseline is how we can show the stakeholders that the presented solution solves their problem.

During this session we will open the discussion with some example use cases. We are looking forward to your experience and input.

In OR practice the ability to communicate with clients and with potential users of your tools is absolutely crucial. This session will address the typical problems and ways of addressing them. [Fuller abstract to follow]

People with OR skills and knowledge are in great demand in industry. There are many possible career paths open to OR people outside academia, whether they are starting with no more than a first degree in a scientific subject, or with a PhD and post-doctoral experience in OR. In this session, panel members with very different career paths will briefly describe their career history and current ambitions, the skills they started with, and the important developments along the way; and then open up to discussion with the audience. The purpose of this session is for people at all stages of an OR career to explore ideas about what they may want to do in the future, and what sort of development and training may be useful.

Practitioners who use MIP have a great choice of possible software. The huge choice can make it harder to make decisions, and that’s where this session should be invaluable.

Bringing together representatives from the 3 top stand-alone MIP-solvers, Gurobi, Xpress and CPLEX with representatives from 2 companies and 1 university that are heavy users of one or more of these we try to answer questions like: Why use a 3rd party solver instead of specialized heuristics? What problems have companies experienced in this approach? And of course… which solver is the best in practice?

The rise of so-called Mat-heuristic solvers that incorporate a mip-solver as part of the heuristic has seen a large increase in the last years. In this panel discussion, we make a deep dive into that world from the usability perspective.

When it comes to modern and widely accessible programming languages two camps seem to attract comparable amounts of attention and collectively dominate: R and Python.

R seems to be preferred by the statistic and data science communities, while Python seems to be the language of choice of the artificial intelligence and mathematical optimization communities. This classification is by no means limitative, since there are many other good choices such as Julia, Jump, Java, C, C++, C#, Matlab, Octave, etc.

Nevertheless, the perception that R is not for optimization may interfere with the possibility to merge great libraries and tooling for (big) data analysis with optimization.

This tutorial gives data scientists familiar with R a glimpse of how to use it for optimization and other scientists familiar with optimization a glimpse of the power of R.

The tutorial includes examples of data-driven optimization using R both as a platform to develop heuristic methods and as an interface to mathematical optimization solvers. To get the most from it, please bring your own laptop with an internet connection.

The amount of data in the world is constantly growing at an enormous pace. That offers opportunities for consultants to provide factual insights to their customers. The customer can profit from these insights by taking the right (fact-based) decisions. This is in fact what OR-consultants have been doing for a couple of decades already. Recently however, terms like Analytics, Predictive modelling, Machine learning, and Data Science have become much more popular than Operations Research. Does that mean that OR has become redundant? Can quantitative consultants support decision making without using or even knowing typical OR-models and OR-techniques? Are techniques the most important at all?

We think Data Science and Operations Research should go hand in hand. And we believe business understanding and modelling remain indispensable skills in our work. We illustrate this with some of our typical projects of the last few years. And we invite you to discuss with us. How do you think quantitative consulting should be done?

The first conference of the Euro Working Group on Practice of OR was held in Paris-Saclay in February, resulting in an exceptional opportunity for more than 40 top level practitioners from various industies to confront each other on the issue of “measuring the impacts of OR projects”. Starting from the key highlights of the event, this session is aimed at carrying on this discussion leading towards the next event, to be held in Bologna next winter.
Come if:
– you were in Paris and cannot wait to bring this forward;
– you are keen to see how OR is applied in the real world;
– you have been wondering about what are the best KPIs to demonstrate the impacts of your OR models;
– you are curious to know what interests the most in the community of industrial and service players who use OR to innovate and improve their processes.
Bring your own views, share them with us, join the community, contribute with your own experience to help OR becoming increasingly relevant in the industry.

Ethical practice is important if practitioners are to retain the trust of their clients as well as their own self-respect. There are a number of codes of practice available for anybody who wants guidance on this. But even for the most ethical practitioner, real life can sometimes throw up ethical dilemmas, or tempt us into imperfect behaviour: perhaps fulfilling our contract obligations may require turning a blind eye to unethical conduct from the client; or the client does not want to engage with the caveats around our analysis; or we want to convince the client to employ us even where the work area is new to us, to name just a few situations where a purist approach may result in no OR work happening at all. This session will start with a short introduction to the ethical dilemmas that can arise in everyday OR, and then open out into discussion inviting participants to share their own experiences and approaches. It is intended to give an opportunity to people engaged in practical OR to reflect on their own practice and to share learning and ideas with others, so that they may be better equipped to make good choices in future.

At a EURO conference there is an enormous amount of interesting material that any one person can only see a small fraction of. This session will help boost that fraction. Each presenter will have just 5 minutes to present a lightning talk: a maximum of 20 slides at 15 seconds per slide. This will be an opportunity for presenters to get a bigger audience for your key ideas and for the audience to get a wide variety of fast-moving and stimulating talks. Details of presenters within the session will be available in due course.

Due to a sudden increase in the number of customers, parcel delivery company X realizes the time has come to apply optimization software for automatically creating efficient delivery routes. To prepare the shift from manual to automated planning, a team of OR specialists working for company X get together to compile a complete and unambiguous list of requirements, a clear definition of the problem that needs to be solved, and a desired outcome, supported by some insightful, illustrative examples. A full problem definition is presented to the optimization software consultants.

If the situation described above was at all realistic, our job at ORTEC would be a lot simpler than it is. In practice, developing supportive optimization software for a wide range of customers operating in a fast-moving, competitive, and unpredictable market is no walk in the park. Most steps leading to the problem definition have gaps and difficulties that ORTEC first needs to resolve. This workshop is aimed at anyone interested in applying OR in practice. In an interactive way we will share our best practices, address challenges faced, and skills required when bringing OR into practice with help of real-life vehicle routing problems.

O.R/Analytics/Data Science

Looking for a career outside the universities? Big and small companies from business and research centers will present their opportunities and recruitment process.

Looking for colleagues? You are welcome to represent your company in front of interested professionals and students. No sign up needed but signing up will give you priority if tables fill up. No need for powerpoints or posters.


To sign up, please contact us at

Academics and practitioners have different incentives, and different contractual, personal and professional objectives, but there are considerable areas of overlap and opportunities to learn from each other. This is the third successive EURO conference to bring academics and practitioners together for a question-and-answer panel.

Previous panels have considered the obstacles in the way of academic-practitioner collaboration, and ways of overcoming them.  This panel will focus particularly on how we can get the best from each other: what would academics like practitioners to know and do, and vice versa. A brief recap of the conclusions from previous panels will be followed by short introductions from experienced academics and practitioners, followed by questions and contributions from the audience.

One of the most important reasons for coming to a conference is to build your circle of professional acquaintance – with like-minded people who can encourage and inspire you, and with not-quite-so-like-minded people who can challenge and extend you, and with the many people who you can encourage, inspire, and challenge. However, it is not always easy to meet people when most of our time is spent sitting listening to presentations.


The speed networking session is a supportive, managed way of meeting people you don’t know: a series of short, quick-fire sharing of professional information with other participants, together with an exchange of contact details if you meet somebody you want to keep in touch with.    (Latecomers will be admitted but may have to wait for a few minutes before they can join in.)


The session will also include a short presentation about the EURO Working group on Practice of OR, aimed at support a pan-European network of practitioners.

This session is aimed at analysts and consultants, and at teachers/trainers of business modeling. No prior experience is needed. Simulating business challenges and plans has until recently been difficult and time-consuming – but things have changed! We will take you through an ‘agile’ process that makes quantified, working simulations practical for non-experts to build, quickly and reliably.
And we need these tools. Spreadsheet-based methods just cannot handle the interdependencies, feedback, thresholds and intangible factors that infect all but the simplest cases. The resulting Living Business Models display with total transparency precisely the factors that management recognises, and exactly the causality that drives the performance outcomes they are interested in. Since everyone sees the same rigorous picture, they get that ‘joined-up’ view that everyone says they want – fully explaining how everything has been changing, and allowing them to explore likely future outcomes under alternative assumptions, decisions and strategies.

What is the main goal of our customers in Transport Logistic Sector when it comes to route optimization? Not surprisingly – saving money. In order to achieve this goal it is essential to be able to calculate ‘practically adequate’ shortest paths in huge road networks extremely fast. Practical adequacy requires the consideration of a plethora of additional data such as predicted and live traffic information, vehicle- and time-dependent toll prices as well as physical and legal limitations. Since this data is becoming increasingly accurate and available it is essential to exploit this technological progress in the calculation to get the most realistic result. As vehicle characteristics and start times vary in shortest path web services with every single calculation the use of speed-up techniques often has limitations in real life use-cases.
In this session we present challenges we had to face when incorporating different data in our shortest path algorithm, we show how we dealt with these challenges in our applications and use-cases and invite you to comment and share your own experiences.

The session is aimed at OR practitioners who deploy applications to business users. Deploying applications requires a functional architecture and the corresponding technical architecture to be well defined. Most of the Euro conference is dedicated to OR techniques and applications; this will be a short introductory session to the 50-70% of work that needs to be done to get an OR model to deliver value to a business user. Participation in the discussion from practitioners is very welcome.

European Excellence in Practice Award: Presentations from the shortlisted finalists will showcase some of the best examples of OR making a difference


OR in Industry:  Presentations of practical case studies from across different industries


Software for OR: Exhibition and presentations of the latest software developments from many companies


Eminent plenary and keynote speakers  on a wide variety of topics


and presentations on the latest developments in analytics, scheduling, routing, logistics, supply chain management, soft OR, behavioural OR, climate science, finance, and a host of other areas.

To keep in touch as we develop the programme, please contact the MAI EURO 2018 initiative at

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