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EIND 364 Montana State University Principles of Operations Research Worksheet

EIND 364 Montana State University Principles of Operations Research Worksheet

Question Description

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Principles of Operations Research

Small Project Memo


Each student will work individually to complete a small project for EIND 364. The objective of this small project is to help you see the optimization process as a whole – not just following the steps of a recipe but working through all aspects of solving a small real-world problem. It is expected that you will run into obstacles during this experience. These are an important part of the learning process, and you should incorporate them into your project, discussing what difficulties you encountered and how you chose to tackle them. The most important part is not what solution you get (in fact, some very good projects may fail to find a true solution) but how you attempted to solve the problem.

The final report of your small project will be a written document of maximum 4 pages, not including appendices and attachments. This document should not just be a summary of the end results but should instead chronicle the entire experience. The interest is to see places where you encountered obstacles and how you addressed those challenges – creativity and ingenuity is part of the process! Within your write-up, be sure to explicitly address each of the following topics:

Problem Definition

The first step of the project is to identify a small real-world problem to be solved. This step includes explicitly identifying the decision to be made, the criterion by which the quality of a solution is evaluated (goal), and the ruleswhich limit the possible solutions. Some examples of small real-world problems are provided at the end of this document for your reference. 

Model Formulation

Next, you should develop a mathematical program to represent your problem. This should be stated in general terms (i.e. no input data specified) so that any problem instance could be solved using your formulation. If your model has characteristics that prevent you from using the solution techniques though in class, you will have to then modify your model in some way. Be sure to state how you have chosen to do so, what assumptions you have made, and so forth. You should also be sure in your analysis of the results to discuss the impact of your modifications.

Data collection

You should gather enough data to construct a single instance of your problem. This can be limited in scope.  For example, if your problem has to do with making decisions for EIND 364 students, your data set might be limited to just 10 students rather than all the students registered in the course. It is not unusual that you will find some difficulties either in gathering the data or in its quality/accuracy. Be sure to discuss this. In some cases, you may be unable to gather what you need. One option at this point is to randomly generate data as a test case. Be sure to discuss the detail if you take this option.

Model Solution

You should next solve this instance of your problem using LINDO/LINGO or Excel Solver. Did anything go wrong? If so, discuss and then propose an alternative approach. 

Results Analysis 

What does your answer mean in terms of the original problem that you proposed? Do the results make sense to you? Do they indicate that you asked the right question? Also, you should consider some sensitivity analysis. For example, if you change your objective function coefficients by a small amount, would you expect the solution to stay the same?

Project Timeline

Friday 10/30 – Project Definitions Due – Bring Hard Copy to Class 

Each student should submit a brief (approximately one page) type-written statement that defines the problem that is going to be considered. This statement is due at this time, no exceptions. If you miss this due date, you will forfeit the project option.

Monday 11/23 – Full Project Due – Bring Hard Copy to Class and Submit a Copy on D2L

Final individual student project reports and model files are due. Final report grades will be based on all the above areas. A rubric will be provided so that you can complete the report. An electronic copy and a hard copy of the final report along wit the model files must be submitted by the due date. Model files must be with final submission or no grade will be given. Students may select similar project ideas, but NO final student project reports should be the same. You can bounce ideas off each other but each submission should be unique.

Examples of Potential Projects (You can select one or come up with others)  

Optimize the selection of food items to satisfy a specific diet requirement.

Optimize a workout routine at the gym.

Optimize the assignment of tasks to people in a group project.

Optimize the selection of dishes for a Thanksgiving dinner to maximize tastiness.

Find the best route from your house to campus.

Find the best layout for your bedroom.

Optimize the selection of items to be put in a backpack for a back-packing trip.

Optimize the selection of rental moving truck sizes for your next house move.

Minimize the cost of your next trip to Disneyland.

Optimize your after college Europe trip.

Optimize the choice of houses to visit for trick-or-treating on Halloween

Optimize the selection of crops to plant for the next season.

Minimize the walking distance in your next WinCo run.

Optimize the purchase of parts and supplies for the SAE Formula Team.

  • Optimize the selection of a fantasy basketball team.

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