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ILOG Optimization Decision Manager Hands On

I sat through (OK, half of) the ILOG workshop on their Optimization Decision Manager.  The ILOG ODM can be seen as a front-end to the rest of the ILOG Optimization systems (like OPL).  I would think of it as a super-sized way of doing version control and what-if analysis.  I use ILOG software in a lot of my research (and consulting) and I generally do something like

  1. Optimize a system
  2. Change some of the constraints and data
  3. Not like the results, and
  4. What was 1. again?

Rather than do intermediate saves (hmmm… I wonder what “testjunk.mod” is?), ODM allows you to save scenarios with differing data, models, parameters, goals and so on and then compare data and results between models.  This makes it much easier to mess around with instances and keep track of what works and what doesn’t work.   Embedded within in ODM is the opportunity to make constraints “soft” (putting them in the objective, with differing weights) and to do goal programming.

I am not quite certain the goal user for this.  I like the idea of using this in my own work, where I am the user.  I shudder about giving this system to someone without some reasonable understanding of operations research:  the “end user” here had better be pretty sophisticated.

Overall, I am glad that I attended the half of the session I did.  I do think we need better hardware/software/display for demos:  squinting at what appeared to be 4 point font at a screen was not particularly illuminating, and the resulting headache chased me from the room halfway through.