Bridging Optimization and AI: Some recent advances in solving transportation problems


Bridging Optimization and AI: Some recent advances in solving transportation problems

  • facebook
  • linkedin
  • twitter
  • whatsapp



The confluence of learning and optimization holds great promise for solving dynamic, online resource allocation problems under uncertainty. In this talk, I will present one such problem where advances in AI have contributed to solving OR problems.

We will discuss the problem of collaborative routing of aircraft and unmanned vehicles, under non-stationary conditions with spatial-temporal correlations. Network conditions (such as weather) are dynamic and the information becomes quickly outdated because it is based upon sparse sampling both in space and time. This leads to inefficient, slower, paths used in practice. A long posited question in collaborative routing has been: “if a subset of traveling vehicles can be used for exploring parts of the network where information has become sparse, how should vehicles be routed to collect information most useful to minimize costs for the entire fleet”? We expand on recent advances in multi-armed bandit algorithms to solve this problem. Under this uncertainty structure, we generate optimal/near-optimal sampling policies under: (i) state-independent routing, and (ii) state-dependent routing. Our policies provide provable guarantees. On aviation data, our results show that collecting the right information and utilizing it to plan future aircraft routes could reduce a flight's travel time and associated fuel burn by 5% on average.

About the Speaker:

Dr. Lavanya Marla is an Associate Professor in Industrial and Enterprise Systems Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her research interests are in robust and dynamic decision-making for large-scale networks subject to operating stochasticity. She builds cross-cutting methodologies that integrate data-driven optimization, statistics, simulation and machine learning. Application areas of interest include aviation planning, operations and pricing; logistics, emergency medical services, and shared transportation systems. Prior to the University of Illinois, she was with the Heinz College at Carnegie Mellon University. She earned her PhD in Transportation Systems, and dual Masters in Operations Research and Transportation from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; and previously, a Bachelors degree from IIT Madras.

Her work has been recognized through the prestigious Center for Advanced Study award from the University of Illinois, as a semi-finalist at the INFORMS Innovative Applications in Analytics Award, research awards from the International Conference for Research in Air Transportation, AGIFORS, Knowledge Discovery and Data Mining (KDD) and others. Her work is funded by the National Science Foundation, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Transportation, the US-India Educational Foundation's and multiple industry grants. She has served in multiple leadership roles with the INFORMS Transportation Science and Logistics Society, Women in OR/MS and AGIFORS.

Click here to register