Theses Doctoral

On the Trade-offs between Modeling Power and Algorithmic Complexity

Ye, Chun

Mathematical modeling is a central component of operations research. Most of the academic research in our field focuses on developing algorithmic tools for solving various mathematical problems arising from our models. However, our procedure for selecting the best model to use in any particular application is ad hoc. This dissertation seeks to rigorously quantify the trade-offs between various design criteria in model construction through a series of case studies. The hope is that a better understanding of the pros and cons of different models (for the same application) can guide and improve the model selection process.
In this dissertation, we focus on two broad types of trade-offs. The first type arises naturally in mechanism or market design, a discipline that focuses on developing optimization models for complex multi-agent systems. Such systems may require satisfying multiple objectives that are potentially in conflict with one another. Hence, finding a solution that simultaneously satisfies several design requirements is challenging. The second type addresses the dynamics between model complexity and computational tractability in the context of approximation algorithms for some discrete optimization problems. The need to study this type of trade-offs is motivated by certain industry problems where the goal is to obtain the best solution within a reasonable time frame. Hence, being able to quantify and compare the degree of sub-optimality of the solution obtained under different models is helpful. Chapters 2-5 of the dissertation focus on trade-offs of the first type and Chapters 6-7 the second type.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Industrial Engineering and Operations Research
Thesis Advisors
Sethuraman, Jaychandran
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
September 16, 2016