Postgraduate study

Optimization & Operational Research

Awards: PhD

Study modes: Full-time, Part-time

Funding available

As a member of the Operational Research and Optimization research group you will also be part of the Edinburgh Research Group in Optimization (ERGO), a wider association, with our group as the focus, which includes academics at the universities of Dundee and Oxford as well as commercial organisations.

Through its regular seminar series, this network provides interaction with an array of local and international institutions and industrial bodies interested in the development of operational research and optimization. As a result, you’ll establish valuable relationships that will help you take your research to its optimum level.

The School of Mathematics is a vibrant community of more than 60 academic and related staff supervising 60 students.

Our group has as its primary focus the mathematical and computing aspects of optimization. Core technology in optimization is the solution for large sparse linear and quadratic problems, and we’re able to provide world-class expertise in the two main solution methods for these: the simplex method and the interior point method.

We have interests in global optimization, decomposition methods, parallel computing, industrial applications of optimization and stochastic optimization.

Our researchers are currently exploring the following areas:

  • parameter uncertainty in queueing theory and revenue management
  • algorithms for linear and nonlinear nonconvex smooth optimization problems
  • optimization methods for linear, quadratic and nonlinear programming
  • decomposition methods for large-scale nonlinear nonconvex constrained optimization
  • bundle methods
  • warmstarts for interior point methods
  • pooling problems
  • computational techniques for solving large-scale linear programming problems
  • applications of optimization in the chemical, oil and electricity industries
  • efficient gradient methods for large-scale convex and nonconvex optimization problems

Being part of the Operational Research and Optimization group and ERGO will give you the opportunity to meet and confer with academics worldwide. We are currently interacting with researchers in Italy, Norway, China, France, Spain and Turkey. Two of our visiting professors are world leaders in continuous optimization.

In addition, researchers from our group are regularly invited to give addresses and organise workshops at major optimization conferences, join international conference committees and sit on assessment panels for European grants.

You will enjoy excellent facilities, ranging from one of the world’s major supercomputing hubs to generous library provision for research at the leading level, including the new Noreen and Kenneth Murray Library at King’s Buildings.

Students have access to more than 1,400 computers in suites distributed across the University’s sites, many of which are open 24 hours a day. In addition, if you are a research student, you will have your own desk with desktop computer.

We provide all our mathematics postgraduates with access to software packages such as Maple, Matlab and Mathematica. Research students are allocated parallel computing time on ‘Eddie’ – the Edinburgh Compute and Data Facility. It is also possible to arrange use of the BlueGene/Q supercomputer facility if your research requires it.

A UK first class honours degree, or its international equivalent, in an appropriate subject; or a UK 2:1 honours degree plus a UK masters degree, or their international equivalents; or relevant qualifications and experience.

International qualifications

Check whether your international qualifications meet our general entry requirements:

English language requirements

All applicants must have one of the following qualifications as evidence of their English language ability:

  • an undergraduate or masters degree, that was taught and assessed in English in a majority English speaking country as defined by UK Visas and Immigration

  • IELTS Academic: total 6.5 with at least 6.0 in each component
  • TOEFL-iBT: total 92 with at least 20 in each section
  • PTE(A): total 61 with at least 56 in each of the Communicative Skills scores
  • CAE and CPE: total 176 with at least 169 in each paper
  • Trinity ISE: ISE II with distinctions in all four components

Degrees taught and assessed in English must be no more than two and a half years old at the beginning of your degree programme. Language tests must be no more than two years old at the beginning of your degree programme.

Find out more about our language requirements:

Academic Technology Approval Scheme

If you are not an EU, EEA or Swiss national, you may need an Academic Technology Approval Scheme clearance certificate in order to study this programme.

  • School of Mathematics
  • James Clerk Maxwell Building
  • Peter Guthrie Tait Road
  • The King's Buildings Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH9 3FD

We encourage you to apply at least one month prior to entry so that we have enough time to process your application. If you are also applying for funding or will require a visa then we strongly recommend you apply as early as possible. We may consider late applications if we have places available, but you should contact the relevant Admissions Office for advice first.

You must submit two references with your application.

Find out more about the general application process for postgraduate programmes:

Further information

  • School of Mathematics
  • James Clerk Maxwell Building
  • Peter Guthrie Tait Road
  • The King's Buildings Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH9 3FD