Supply Chain Optimization: An Operations Research Perspective

When and Where

Monday, January 11, 2021 4:00 pm to 5:00 pm


Professor Chris Beck, Department of Mechanical & Industrial Engineering, University of Toronto


Supply chain optimization is a widely studied topic in the area of Operations Research with work on topics from production and service planning and scheduling; routing, sourcing, and distribution; and inventory management among others. In this talk, I will provide an introduction to the way that Operations Research conceptualizes problems and solutions through mathematical modeling with examples from my work and that of others in areas of routing, scheduling, and supply chain resilience.

Speaker Bio

J. Christopher Beck is a Professor in the Department of Mechanical & Industrial Engineering at the University of Toronto. He received his PhD from the Department of Computer Science, University of Toronto in 1999 on the topic of knowledge-based heuristic search algorithms for constraint-directed scheduling. Chris then spent three years on the Scheduler Team at ILOG, SA (now part of IBM) in Paris, France, developing industrial constraint-directed scheduling software. He then was a Staff Scientist at the Cork Constraint Computation Centre in Cork, Ireland. Since 2004, he has been at the University of Toronto. Professor Beck’s research interests continue to include scheduling, heuristic search, and constraint programming but have widened to include hybrid optimization combining mixed-integer programming and constraint programming, constraint integer programming, optimization under uncertainty, queueing theory, online algorithms, and multi-agent negotiation for coupled combinatorial optimization problems.

Watch the recording of the webinar below

This is a School of Cities Seminar Series "Building Resilience in Food and Health Supply Chains"

Supply chains are the primary societal infrastructure for the production, delivery, and recycling of goods and services. Though sometimes invisible, supply chains are the systems that ensure that flour is available in your grocery store, that hospitals have sufficient personal protective equipment, and that there are enough trained staff to administer medical tests, deliver babies, and check-out your groceries. While much of the effort in supply chains over the past 50 years has been to make them agile, fast, and cheap, there is a growing realization that supply chains must be able to adapt to disruptions from local events such as the inability for a plane to land due to weather to global changes such as the closing of the US-Canada border due to COVID-19.

This seminar series seeks to develop a multi-disciplinary understanding of resilient supply chains by examining two which are of critical importance to everyday life: food and health supply chains. The talks in this series look at these supply chains, both independently and together, through the inclusion of diverse speakers representing at least the following perspectives:

  • Supply Chain Optimization 
  • Northern and Remote Food and Health Security
  • Urban Food Systems
  • Systems of Food Production
  • Healthcare Systems