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HEC Montréal Professors Win the 2009 ROADEF Challenge

Disruption management for commercial aviation

February 16, 2009

A biennial international competition dedicated to industrial applications: the 2009 ROADEF Challenge. A decision-making problem to be solved: managing disruptions in the aviation industry. Twenty-nine teams from 15 countries. One winning team, of three HEC Montréal professors and one CIRRELT analyst: Jean-François Cordeau, Canada Research Chair in Logistics and Transportation, Gilbert Laporte, Canada Research Chair in Distribution Management, and Federico Pasin, Full Professor in Logistics and Operations Management and Director of the BBA program at HEC Montréal, and Serge Bisaillon, Analyst at the Interuniversity Research Centre on Enterprise Networks, Logistics and Transportation (CIRRELT).

For Professor Laporte, a competition like this represents another opportunity “to position the School in the fields of operational research and decision analysis. Montreal, and HEC Montréal in particular, boasts an exceptional pool of researchers in these fields. Our very high-level analyses have already made it possible to solve many industrial problems in a number of areas, including transportation, work scheduling, production management and telecommunications.”

Organized by the Société française de recherche opérationnelle et d'aide à la decision the ROADEF Challenge looks at the development of optimization tools for industrial problem solving. The teams are required to develop and submit, in the form of a computer program, a method to solve an industrial problem. These methods are then tested and compared using actual industrial data. The winners of the 2009 competition were announced at the recent annual ROADEF convention, held in Nancy from February 10 to 12.

The problem to be solved this year was suggested by Amadeus, a large company that provides IT solutions for the travel and tourism industry. It concerned the integration of different decision-making levels in the event of disruptions in commercial aviation, from mechanical breakdowns to strikes or weather conditions, so as to be able to simultaneously reassign a fleet of aircraft and passengers. Since the traditional method, by which resources are reallocated sequentially according to a natural hierarchy, is seriously flawed, it is only logical that more and more studies are looking at integrating different decision-making levels in this kind of situation.

The benefits of the method developed by the HEC Montréal team are its robust nature and execution speed. Discussions are underway to continue developing the method in co-operation with Amadeus.

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