Hans Mittelmann’s research is addressing optimization problems in a computational way. We all try to do things in our daily life as best as we can (“optimally”). But, many large problems that affect us need to be continuously optimized such as the scheduling of airplanes and their crews, or the delivery of merchandise to stores or to our home. Mittelmann has considered problems even harder than the traveling salesperson problem. This asks for the shortest route visiting a number of locations once and returning to the starting point. It has n! possible tours and n! grows extremely rapidly with n.
In collaboration with engineers currently two such problems are investigated. One deals with improving the wireless transmission to our cell phones, the other with optimizing the distribution of electricity in the nation’s electric grid. This is a $300bn business annually. So saving 1% means saving $3bn every year.