Group for Research in Decision Analysis

Message from the director

September 2017

GERAD is a research centre focused on decision mathematics that are applicable to large-scale technological, commercial and economic systems. The centre brings together more than 60 regular members specialized in a range of disciplines, including operations research, statistics, quantitative management methods, mathematical engineering, financial engineering, applied mathematics and computer science. For the most part, these specialists are professors with one of GERAD's four supporting institutions: HEC Montréal, Polytechnique Montréal, McGill University and Université du Québec à Montréal. Our members oversee the research projects of over 400 graduate students, who make a significant contribution to the centre's life and success. GERAD was founded in 1979 and has, for many years now, been recognized worldwide for the quality of its research in decision mathematics. In addition, its members collaborate with a large number of international researchers.

GERAD is financed in part by the FRQNT, Quebec's research funding agency, as a strategic research cluster. The centre's specialized expertise enables it to develop analytical tools for various areas that are conducive to partnership, such as sustainable development, information and communication technologies, and operations management, but also that apply to the emerging issues set out in Quebec's national research and innovation policy (PNRI), such as intelligent systems, transport electrification and real-time solutions.

GERAD's success can largely be ascribed to the importance that its members give to defining research projects that combine theoretical/methodological developments with their applications. This combination allows for outstanding scientific productivity and sustained activity in the area of technological transfer. Thus, GERAD counts on many industrial partners in various areas, such as transportation, energy, the environment, finance, engineering, health, production, telecom and non-governmental organizations.

During the first half of my term (2015–2019), I set up a scientific committee, whose responsibilities include organizing scientific activities at GERAD (seminar series, GERAD Day, yearly theme with dedicated scientific activities, and more) and evaluating new potential candidates. I’m especially proud of the launch of the yearly GERAD Day to help new members integrate into our community and to encourage networking among our members. Students also inaugurated a GERAD Students’ Day, which gives them an opportunity to briefly introduce their research projects and discuss among themselves and with attending professors. During these two first years, there was also a great deal of development in the collaboration with the Canada Excellence Research Chair in Data Science for Real-Time Decision-Making, led by Prof. Andrea Lodi. Several data-science research projects involving Prof. Lodi and many GERAD members and students are currently underway. GERAD is also starting to benefit from the contribution of IVADO (Institut de VAlorisation des DOnnées), whose mission includes promoting the vast expertise in decision mathematics and data sciences (including artificial intelligence) that is available at Campus Montréal to large companies and organizations in Quebec, as well as elsewhere. IVADO, which manages the APOGÉE grant obtained by Campus Montréal, provides various opportunities in terms of financing (research projects, post-doctoral fellows, research professionals) and training in the data sciences to GERAD researchers. Many are already benefitting from these opportunities.

In the second half of my term, I want to implement training and networking activities aimed at our industrial partners, possibly in partnership with IVADO. For instance, brief training sessions on specialized software could be very useful to a number of partners at once. And, networking meetings themed around common problems experienced by industrial players could strengthen their sense of belonging to the GERAD community. Another area I will be focusing on is integrating data-science professionals financed by IVADO. These professionals will be available for all members working on projects that are related to IVADO’s scientific programing. The computing tools they will develop will have to be made available to all members. Therefore, we must determine the best way for GERAD to proceed with this new type of resource.

I am very proud of GERAD and of our members’ scientific achievements. I believe that the highly collaborative environment that feeds the work of GERAD researchers and the decision mathematics community in Montreal, and even Quebec, is most certainly one of the pillars of our success. Let us hope that we will preserve this asset for a long time to come.

I wish everyone success in their research and collaborations!

Guy Desaulniers