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DS4DM Coffee Talk

Stochastic tabu search and improvements, application for physician scheduling


Sep 19, 2023   11:00 AM — 12:00 PM

Nadia Lahrichi Full Professor, Polytechnique Montréal, Canada

Nadia Lahrichi

Presentation on YouTube.

Many approaches are used to handle uncertainty in stochastic combinatorial optimization problems. In this talk, we describe the application of a tabu search approach in a stochastic environment together with a real application in physician scheduling in a radiotherapy center. The goal is to determine a weekly cyclic schedule that improves the patient flow and shortens the pretreatment duration. High uncertainty is associated with the arrival day, profile and type of cancer of each patient. Additionally, two approaches to improve the efficiency of the method are introduced, both are based on leveraging methods that originate outside the field of metaheuristics. The first one discusses hyperparameters tuning. Research shows that it is a nontrivial task and efficient methods are required to obtain the best possible results. We present how blackbox optimization can help choose the tabu search parameters efficiently. We are solving this problem through a Mesh Adaptive Direct Search (MADS) algorithm with no derivative information. The second one presents a learning algorithm for improving tabu search by reducing its search space and evaluation effort. The learning tabu search algorithm uses classification methods in order to better motivate moves through the search space.

Bio: Nadia Lahrichi holds a PhD in applied mathematics from Polytechnique Montréal. She is currently a full professor at the department of Mathematics and industrial engineering at Polytechnique Montreal. She is also a member of CIRRELT and IVADO. Her research is mainly focused towards applying modeling and operational research tools to improve patient flow in the healthcare system. She uses exact, metaheuristics and discrete event simulation approaches to tackle patient and resource scheduling problems. She has received the award for outstanding application of operational research (from the Canadian Operational research society) for solving the home health care routing and scheduling problem. She is an associate editor of Health Care Management Science, Operations research for Health Care and Flexible Services and Manufacturing. She co-organized multiple international conferences such as Optimization Days, Odysseus, NOW and ORAHS. Since 2018, she has been involved in the council of the Canadian Operational Research Society (CORS) as vice-president of the Healthcare Special Interest Group, president of the Healthcare Special Interest Group, president of the chapter of Montreal and as the Education Chair.

Articles :

  • Niroumandrad, N., Lahrichi, N (2018). A stochastic tabu search algorithm to align physician schedule with patient flow. Health Care Management Science 21, 244–258
  • Niroumandrad N, Lahrichi N, Lodi A (2022). Learning tabu search algorithms : a scheduling application, CIRRELT-2022-09
Federico Bobbio organizer
Defeng Liu organizer


Hybrid activity at GERAD
Zoom et salle 4488
Pavillon André-Aisenstadt
Campus de l'Université de Montréal
2920, chemin de la Tour

Montréal Québec H3T 1J4

Associated organization