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Dutch Network on the Mathematics of Operations Research

The LNMB is a Dutch Network on the Mathematics of Operations Research (in Dutch: Landelijk Netwerk Mathematische Besliskunde; LNMB is the Dutch acronym). This network is an interuniversity co-operation in which all Dutch universities and the Centre for Mathematics and Computer Science (CWI) in Amsterdam participate. The LNMB has been established in 1987; from 1987 until 2001 the University of Groningen was its administrator, from 2002 until 2006 the University of Maastricht, and from January 2007 the University of Twente acts as administrator of the LNMB. Prof.dr. J.L. Hurink is the Director.

The tasks of the LNMB are twofold. Firstly, the LNMB offers courses for PhD and Master students. The PhD programme, which is centered around 18 courses, taught in a two-years cycle, aims at broadening and deepening the knowledge of the PhD students in the mathematics of Operations Research. Secondly, the LNMB is an organization of full, associate and assitant professors in the field of Operations Research. Each university and the CWI is represented in the General Board out of whom a Managing Board is chosen.

The LNMB has around 120 members and about 200 PhD students. The LNMB courses are also accessible, on payment, to other interested people. An independent judgment by NWO (Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research) has proven that the LNMB graduate education program is of a high international standard.

The LNMB also strives for contacts with the business community. The PhD students in OR often accept, having the doctor's degree, a job in business. New scientific developments can be transmitted in the LNMB courses to employees of companies who are interested in quantitative decision methods. The LNMB is, in co-operation with the NGB (Dutch Community of workers in OR), investigating in what way they can play a meaningful role in this sense.

Operations Research

Operations Research (shortly OR) is a term for a field of science, in which a variety of (mostly decision) problems with limited resources are being analysed using mathematical models. Although particular models and techniques of OR have earlier origins, it is generally agreed that the discipline began during World War II. Many operations associated with the British and American Armed Forces were simply too complicated to expect adequate solutions without a scientific research. Hence the name Operations Research. Inspired by this success, after the war many of the techniques developed were adopted to analyse complex planning problems in industrial, agricultural and public organizations with mathematical models, and sometimes the field is called Management Science.

Various methods and models in topics like project planning, production planning and scheduling, maintenance, replacement, allocation, routing and transport, distribution, inventory, investments, telecommunication and congestion are a result of this. In the sixties the universities instituted the discipline, at first in England and in the USA, later as well in almost all developed countries. Every Dutch university, including the Universities of Technology and the Agriculture University, teaches Operations Research mostly at the faculties of Mathematics and Economics. Besides, one can find Operations Researchers working for large business companies and (government) institutions, in profit as well as in non-profit organizations.

Partly due to early exploitation of the possibilities that computers offer, the discipline went through a stormy development. This is evident from the origination of large organizations of scientists and from the abundant interest for conferences in the field, by fundamental researchers as well as by people applying the methods. Besides that, one can consider the existence of many international OR journals of high standard.

Operations Research is a typical interdisciplinary topic. Not only the field of applied mathematics (including statistics and applied probability theory) and computer science discovered the discipline as a fruitful source of inspiration of relevant problems, also in the technical, economical, econometrical and management science educations the OR models and methods have become indispensable, of course in each discipline in combination with their own mathematical abstraction and practical aspects.

Operations Research includes the study of fundamental properties of mathematical models for decision problems as well as the design and analysis of algorithms for these models. Mostly, but not always, these models are abstractions of management problems from large business organizations. Nowadays, various models and techniques are fairly standard and they prove to have a great supporting value when making decisions in a complex environment.

In The Netherlands, Operations Researchers are organized in the Dutch Community for Operations Research which is, with 500 members, the largest section of the VVS (Society for Statistics). Since 1976 a yearly "International Conference on the Mathematics of Operations Research" is being held in Lunteren. Until 2000 this conference was organized by the CWI in co-operation with the LNMB. From 2001 only the LNMB is responsible for the Lunteren Conference. This conference functions as a platform where Dutch OR-scientists meet each other and where international specialists present lectures and discuss promising research areas.

PhD courses and diploma requirements (general information)

The programme of the LNMB PhD courses consists of a biennial cycle and in each cycle 18 courses are offered. The subjects of the courses are in the following areas: Combinatorial Optimization, Stochastic Operations Research, Mathematical Programming, Game Theory and Applications of OR. The programme is flexible in the sense that new PhD students can start with their programme at the beginning of any trimester. Furthermore, the individual programmes can vary; each student can choose his of her own parts of the education programme. In each trimester a combination of various subjects is taught. In general one can follow each of the courses without any prerequisites of the other courses. The courses take place on Monday in Utrecht.

The courses are intended for PhD students in Operations Research. However, Master students in mathematics, econometrics or computer science who acquired enough prerequisites are also welcome. Further information can be obtained from the director of the LNMB or from the lecturers of the courses. Furthermore, government and/or business employees who want to follow a course may participate. Participants are expected to make exercises (homework) during or at the end of the course to show that they have understood the contents of the course. The credits (including for the attendance of the course) for participants who have passed the exercises successfully have been set at 4 ECTS per course. In case the courses are only attended (or when the exercises are not passed successfully), then the workload is set at 1 ECTS (1 ECTS is equivalent to 28 hours work). At the end of each course the participants receive a certificate with the grade and the credits involved.

The following regulation holds for the course fee. Participants from the departments of the Dutch universities that finance the LNMB don't pay any course fee. Other participants pay for each course a fee of 500 euro. The director of the LNMB is authorized to grant a reduction of this fee at occurring situations.

Application
to the LNMB PhD courses can be done by filling in the online application form(s) in the section 'Courses' of this LNMB website. PhD students who participate for the first time in LNMB courses, also have to fill in the online form for New PhD Students, which can be found in the same section 'Courses' of this LNMB website.

In addition to the courses, the PhD programme includes the annual Lunteren Conference on the Mathematics of Operations Research. During this conference prominent - usually foreign - researchers lecture on special topics or on recent research. PhD students can give a so-called PhD presentation. In such a presentation one can present his or her research results. Attendance in the Lunteren Conference is credited by 1 ECTS.

PhD students who have sufficiently participated in the LNMB PhD programme and who have given a PhD presentation will receive a diploma. Here, ‘sufficiently’ means means that they have passed at least 6 LNMB PhD courses with success, whereby one of the courses may be replaced by a course of the graduate program GP-OML and whereby in consultation with the supervisor one course may be replaced by a Master course. If PhD courses have already been taken during the Master program, these courses are also taken into consideration for the LNMB diplom and it is mentioned on the diploma that the courses are part of a Master program. Under certain circumstances the supervisor may submit a motivated request to give the diploma to a PhD student although he or she did not meet the requirement of the PhD presentation.

Master courses (general information)

From September 2004, the LNMB provides Master courses in Operations Research. These courses are intended for Master students in Mathematics or Econometrics who want to take one or more courses in Operations Research. Usually, the Master thesis adviser will propose or decide that a student will participate in LNMB Master courses.

Due to the small number of Master students in Operations Research at each individual university, a national concentration is efficient and can help to guarantee a qualitatively high education. This is the main purpose of the LNMB Master courses. An additional advantage for the students is the contact with professors and students from other universities. The LNMB Master courses are part of the Dutch Master Programme in Mathematics, which is a coordinated programme of the Departments of Mathematics of the Dutch universities.

Any semester (Fall or Spring) three LNMB Master courses are given. The subjects of the courses are taken from the following areas: Mathematical Programming, Combinatorial Optimization and Stochastic Operations Research. The programme is flexible in the sense that new Master students can start with their programme at the beginning of any semester. Furthermore, the individual programmes can vary; each student can choose his of her own courses. The courses take place on Monday in Utrecht.

Although the courses are intended for Master students, PhD students are also welcome. It is up to their thesis adviser to propose or decide that a PhD student will attend such a course. Further information can be obtained from the director of the LNMB.

The students are subjected to an examination that usually will consist of making exercises during the course and also a written or oral examination. The credits for participants who have passed the examination successfully have been set by the LNMB at 6 ECTS per course (1 ECTC is equivalent to 28 hours work). A final decision about the credits and the grade is formally up to the university of the student.

Application to the LNMB Master courses can be done via the website of the Dutch Master Programme in Mathematics http://www.mastermath.nl).