Some processes can be optimised effectively using simple techniques but most real-world problems can be very difficult or time-consuming to optimise, due to complex constraints and the sheer number of possibilities that need to be evaluated. Consider the delivery driver who has to visit 10 addresses whilst covering the shortest distance; there are 3,628,800 possible solutions each suggesting an order in which the deliveries might be made. If the problem becomes more complex, with time restrictions on visits, limited driving hours and multiple vehicles then even finding a solution to the problem that satisfies all the constraints can become incredibly difficult. Modern optimisation techniques are capable of finding robust, high-quality solutions to every- day problems using software running on a standard PC; they can optimise solutions according to any defined criterion, for example cost, time or distance; many optimisation techniques will support multiple optimisation criteria, finding solutions that satisfy all the criteria or more commonly, finding sets of solutions that trade off one criterion against another, in order that an informed selection can be made from the set of potential solutions according to preference.
Edinburgh Napier University is seeking commercial partners with novel uses for Optimisation Techniques. Please contact us if you are interested in collaborative research or consultancy.