THE FASCINATING HISTORY OF THE VEHICLE ROUTING PROBLEM
PROFESSOR GILBERT LAPORTE
Canada Research Chair in Distribution Management, HEC Montreal, Canada
22 AUGUST 2014 (FRIDAY)
19:00 - 20:00
WANG GUNGWU THEATRE, GRADUATE HOUSE, HKU
Institute of Transport Studies, The University of Hong Kong
The Vehicle Routing Problem (VRP), introduced in 1959 by Dantzig and Ramser, plays a central role in distribution management. It consists of designing a set least cost delivery or collection routes for a set of vehicles based at a depot and visiting a set of geographically scattered customers, subject to a variety of constraints. The most common constraints are capacity constraints, duration constraints and time windows. This talk will concentrate on the so-called classical VRP with capacity constraints only. The VRP is ubiquitous and highly important from an economic point of view. From a research perspective, it occupies a central role in operations research. Its study by the scientific community has fueled the development and growth of several families of exact and approximate algorithms. Exact algorithms such as branch-and-cut, column generation and branch-and-cut-and-price owe part of their evolution to the study of the VRP. Similarly, the most common classical heuristics and most of the more recent metaheuristics have been developed through the study of the VRP. In this talk I will highlight several of these developments. In spite of all the attention the VRP has received over the past 55 years, it can still only be solved exactly for relatively small instances (with slightly more than 100 customers) and the corresponding algorithms are rather intricate. Over the past 10 years or so, several powerful metaheuristics have been put forward for the approximate solutions of the VRP. The best ones combine concepts borrowed from local search and genetic search. Nowadays, the best metaheuristics can generate rather quickly solutions whose value lies within 1% of the best known solution values on a set of benchmark instances. This talk will also review these developments. It will close with some research outlooks.
ABOUT THE SPEAKER:
Professor Gilbert Laporte obtained his Ph.D. in Operations Research at the London School of Economics in 1975. He is Professor of Operations Research at HEC Montreal, Canada Research Chair in Distribution Management, adjunct Professor at Molde University College, the University of Bilkent, the University of Alberta, visiting professor at the University of Southampton, and guest professor at the University of Science and Technology of China. He is also a member of the Interuniversity Research Centre on Enterprise Networks, Logistics and Transportation (CIRRELT) and founding member of the Groupe d'etudes et de recherche en analyse des decisions (GERAD). He has been Editor of Transportation Science, Computers & Operations Research and INFOR. He has authored or coauthored 15 books, as well as more than 400 scientific articles in combinatorial optimization, mostly in the areas of vehicle routing, location and timetabling. He has received many scientific awards including the Pergamon Prize (United Kingdom) in 1987, the 1994 Merit Award of the Canadian Operational Research Society, the CORS Practice Prize on three occasions. In 1999, he obtained the ACFAS Jacques-Rousseau Prize for Interdisciplinarity, and the President's Medal (Operational Research Society, United Kingdom). In 2001, he was awarded the Pedagogy Prize by HEC Montreal. He has been a member of the Royal Society of Canada since 1998, and Fellow of INFORMS since 2005. In 2007 he received the Innis-Gerin medal from the Royal Society of Canada. In 2009 he was awarded the Gerard-Parizeau Prize, he was inducted as the 42nd Honorary Member of the INFORMS International Omega Rho Society, and he received the Robert M. Herman Lifetime Achievement Award in Transportation Science from the Transportation Science and Logistics Society of INFORMS. In 2012, he was awarded the Pierre-Laurin research prize from HEC Montreal for his overall career research achievements.