Monday, April 22, 2013

[DMANET] PhD studentship in Operational Research, Strathclyde Business School, UK

*Apologies for cross-listing*

Glasgow, UK

*Note this position is available to applicants of any nationality*

A PhD studentship is available in the area of Operational Research, in the Department of Management Science, Strathclyde Business School, starting October 2013. The successful candidate will work on a research project entitled 'Performance-centered maintenance planning using stochastic optimization and Markov decision processes' under the supervision of Prof. Tim Bedford and Dr. Kerem Akartunali. Applications will be considered until 15 June 2013, or until a suitable candidate is found thereafter.
With 12 full-time and 3 part-time academic staff, 5 postdoctoral research associates and more than 30 PhD students, the Department of Management Science ( has a lively research environment with several groups and themes. Being part of a prestigious triple-accredited business school, the department has an applied focus with a substantial number of industrial collaborations.

One of the core cost-drivers for business is maintenance. Maintenance optimization is a long standing area for research, combining optimization, decision support and reliability modelling. While these areas have been used in determining stocks of reserves, optimal maintenance times, etc., many of the theoretical approaches have not been taken up in practice, mainly because practice is too complicated to model effectively.
The main approach used in maintenance practice is that of Reliability Centred Maintenance (RCM). RCM considers the impact of component failure on overall system functionality, and seeks to organise maintenance in the most efficient way possible consistent with avoiding failure. Emphasis on reliability, however, can lead to a lack of focus on performance. Previous EPSRC-funded work of Bedford and co-workers focussed on reliability modelling of coal mills, led to the creation of a new approach to reliability modelling with the "signal model", an approach that started from the assumption that signals given by the equipment at random times would indicate different levels of degradation. Recent follow-on work with a number of industrial partners has led to new insights that introduced performance as a key additional required component in order to directly support decision making, as opposed to simply supporting statistical estimation. The integration of performance modelling is done by expressing the operational state of a mill by a joint (degradation, performance) index, and modelling the way this joint index changes through time using a stochastic process. This approach opens up a number of interesting and potentially highly impactful routes for further development.
This project will investigate the complexities of decision making that could be supported by the underlying stochastic model. As stated above, the gap between maintenance modelling and its application is large, mainly due to the complexity of choices available to the decision maker. In order to capture the variety of choices available to the decision makers at a realistic level, the project aims: 1) to establish a new conceptual model for performance-centered maintenance using stochastic combinatorial optimization and Markov decision processes, 2) to investigate theoretical properties of the model, and 3) to apply the model in practical/computational setting to assess maintenance options.

This studentship covers international student fees and is therefore open to candidates of any nationality.
Candidates are required to have an excellent Honours (Undergraduate) degree in a numerical subject, including but not limited to Operational Research, Mathematics, Computer Science, Engineering or Economics. Candidates with a Masters degree (or equivalent) will be strongly preferred.
Mathematical and analytical skills are essential for the project. Familiarity with stochastic processes and optimization techniques is desirable but not essential. Candidates with computing skills (in particular programming skills in C/C++ or similar) will be preferred.
Good communication skills in English, both oral and written, are essential. Candidates with English as a second language will be required to submit evidence of their English proficiency.

This PhD studentship is for 3 years with a starting date of October 2013. The progress of the successful candidate is subject to standard annual and interim reviews. The studentship fully covers the tuition fees for the 3-year duration and provides an annual tax-free stipend of £13,726 to the sucessful candidate.

All applications are to be made online at to the Department of Management Science. All documents (including scans of original documents) can be uploaded during the online application process. Candidates are expected to submit a cover letter, a research proposal detailing their 3-year plan, CV, any university degree certificates and transcripts, English test results (if applicable), two recommendation letters (or contact details of two referees, if letters are not available to them), and any other supporting documents. In order to be considered for this studentship, candidates should specifically note the title of this project in their online application when prompted about funding and their source of finance.
For informal enquiries, contact Dr. Kerem Akartunali (

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