Postgraduate study

Optimization & Operational Research

Awards: PhD

Study modes: Full-time, Part-time

Funding available

The work in the Operational Research and Optimization research group is in three main areas: the mathematical and computing aspects of optimization, combinatorial optimization, and energy systems.

The core technology in optimization is the solution of large sparse linear and quadratic problems, and we provide world-class expertise in the two main solution methods for these: the simplex method and the interior point method. In combinatorial optimization, we provide expertise for modelling real-world problems using integer linear programming formulations and for deriving efficient exact and heuristic algorithms to solve them.

Specialist expertise in energy includes optimization of system planning and optimization, security of supply risk analysis, and decision support for public policy. We also have interests in PDE-constrained optimization, global optimization, decomposition methods, parallel computing, industrial applications of optimization and stochastic optimization.

Specific topics which could yield PhD projects include

  • Algorithms for linear and nonlinear nonconvex smooth optimization problems.
  • Optimization methods for linear, integer linear, quadratic and nonlinear programming.
  • Decomposition methods for large-scale nonlinear nonconvex constrained optimization.
  • Bundle methods.
  • Warm starts for interior point methods.
  • Pooling problems.
  • Applications of optimization in logistics.
  • Parameter uncertainty in queueing theory and revenue management.
  • Facility location and vehicle routing.

Being part of the Operational Research and Optimization group will give you the opportunity to meet and confer with academics worldwide. You will be a member of the Edinburgh Research Group in Optimization (ERGO) which, through its regular seminar series, attracts local and international researchers interested in the development of operational research and optimization. As a group, we are currently collaborating with researchers in Denmark, the Netherlands, Canada, USA, Italy, Norway, China, France, Spain, Germany and Turkey, and are invited to give addresses and organise workshops at major optimization, OR and energy conferences.

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 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 three and a half years old at the beginning of your degree programme. IELTS, TOEFL, Pearson Test of English and Trinity ISE must be no more than two years old at the beginning of your degree programme.*

(*Revised 8/11/2018 to provide more accurate information on English language qualifications expiry dates.)

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