Recent Blog Entries

Figure or Table?

25th August 2017
Author: Stephen J Maher

Results are important. Every paper needs results. So how do you present this all important part of your paper? I feel that there is a heavy reliance on tables in the optimisation community. This is something that I think is a bit of a shame. There are many visual ways to present your results. I want to discuss the virtues of tables and figures. Read more...

Benders' decomposition in practice

14th July 2017
Author: Stephen J Maher

A short follow up to my previous blog on Benders' decomposition (here) with a focus on a paper for the recoverable robust facility location problem. The paper that I review provides good example of what I was trying to convey in my previous blog. Many tricks are applied to the Benders' decomposition implementation to make it effective. Read more...

Building a COIN-OR project - DisCO

23rd June 2016
Author: Stephen J Maher

Being honest, I have not had the most fun experience building DisCO. At times is was a struggle to just understand what is going on. It was a big learning curve as I was getting to understand the build system developed for COIN-OR packages. I have now seen the light and am now totally on board with the COIN-OR build system. Hopefully my experiences will help some people or just provide some entertainment. Read more...

Dabbling in airport slot scheduling

16th June 2016
Author: Stephen J Maher

New workplace, new ideas and new topics. I have started working at Lancaster University and part of my work will be looking into airport slot scheduling. There seems to be many interesting topics in this area and many interesting problems. I have started reading through a few papers to get a feel of this topic. This is the start of my investigation. Read more...

Computational experiments in MIP

7th July 2016
Author: Stephen J Maher

I have been thinking a lot of how to prepare computational experiments. When you look over papers, there is not one clear way. So, I decided to put down some thoughts about how to prepare computational experiments. Also, I list some of the better presentations of result that I have seen. Read more...

Specialisation or diversification in research

13th April 2016
Author: Stephen J Maher

What is the best approach to research? Should a person specialise and develop a deep knowledge of a particular area or try to diversify to gain an understanding of many different fields? This is a question that I ask myself a lot. This blog is an opportunity for me to put my thoughts in writing. I try to answer the specialisation or diversification question based upon my own experiences. Read more...

The network keeps growing

26th February 2016
Author: Stephen J Maher

How to measure professional development in an academic career? One aspect of this career is building and maintaining a professional network. My attendance at the INFORMS Annual Meeting last year helped me assess my career development and reflect on the past year of my postdoc. Read more...

CO@Work - a summer school at ZIB

23rd October 2015
Author: Stephen J Maher

Combinatorial Optimization at Work! A workshop on all things related to combinatorial optimisation held at ZIB. A packed two weeks of lectures and events. There was much to do, much to learn and much to get involved in. It was a great opportunity for me to develop my teaching skills. Read about my experience at the workshop. Read more...

Finding the ideal working style

3rd September 2015
Author: Stephen J Maher

What do you do to be more productive at work? It is sometimes difficult to identify the best work style that will help produce the most output. Recently I have discovered the working style of fixed schedule productivity. This blog explains where the approach comes from and how I am implementing it for my work. Read more...

Sit back, relax and enjoy the ride

19th August 2015
Author: Stephen J Maher

How to achieve a work/life balance as an academic. This is something that you hear and read about constantly. I don't think that I am very successful in this regard, but I do try. Because of this I will not provide any suggestions about improving your own work/life balance. I just want to put down a few things that I think are important to having fun in any field of research. Read more...

British-French-German Conference on Optimisation 2015

8th July 2015
Author: Stephen J Maher

My first conference for the year. The summer is just heating up and the optimisation talks are going ahead. I was fortunate to be asked by my supervisor to travel to London and attend the BFG conference. This conference was attended by approximately 200 people, making an interesting three days of talks and discussions. Read more...

My research visit to Aachen

15th May 2015
Author: Stephen J Maher

Column generation on the edge. Well, column generation in Aachen, Germany, which is very close to the Belgium and Netherlands border. My visit to Aachen was a great opportunity to meet with the research group of Marco Lübbecke. I had a great time with the work and really enjoyed the people there. Read more...

The two-body problem

11th April 2015
Author: Stephen J Maher

How do two professionals in a partnership manage to successfully pursue their individual careers? The answer is not too clear to me. I am about to embark on my attempt to solve this problem. Here is a blog about my thoughts of the two-body problem and how I am going to try and solve it. Read more...

One year in - My postdoc at ZIB

20th March 2015
Author: Stephen J Maher

A lot can happen in a year. My postdoc at ZIB is my first academic position. As you could imagine, there were many things that I had to learn. I think that there are things that I have done right and others that could have been done better. This is a reflection on my first year at ZIB. Read more...

So you have decided to use Benders' decomposition. Be prepared for what comes next!!!

9th January 2015
Author: Stephen J Maher

Benders' decomposition is a widely applied decomposition approach that can be very successful. However, you must be very careful when attempting to use this decomposition as its implementation is not as easy as it may first appear. I will detail some of the enhancement techniques for Benders' decomposition that I have applied in various projects. Read more...

DIMACS Challenge and Workshop 2014

19th December 2014
Author: Stephen J Maher

Bring on the Steiner trees!!! This year saw another challenge given by DIMACS: the Steiner tree problem. The SCIP team, headed by Thorsten Koch, decided to put forward a generic SCIP-based solver. This was an interesting challenge and a worthwhile experience. Read more...


SCIP Workshop 2014

17th October 2014
Author: Stephen J Maher

Nine months in and I am already helping with the organisation of workshops at ZIB. A day of SCIP introduction and two days of SCIP related talks to provide most of what you ever wanted to know about SCIP. It was good fun and very interesting to be, for the first time, on the organisation side of a workshop. The SCIP Workshop was held 30th September - 2nd October 2014. Read more...

Travel to Bordeaux

19th September 2014
Author: Stephen J Maher

Wine, beer, column-and-row generation and a Air France pilot strike. That is the week that was in Bordeaux. After being awarded the Lift-off Fellowship from the Australian Mathematical Society, I used the funds to visit Bordeaux. This week involved meeting with Francois Vanderbeck and his team. A very good experience. Read more...

IFORS 2014 in Barcelona

9th August 2014
Author: Stephen J Maher

European summer!!! The time for conferences and work travel. Having just moved to Germany, I really appreciate how much easier it is to travel to conferences in Europe. This year I was given the opportunity to attend IFORS in Barcelona. It was a great experience and I was able to learn a lot from my time there. Read more...

My PhD experience

29th June 2014
Author: Stephen J Maher

I have become a little nostalgic about my PhD studies over the last couple of months. While thinking about my time as a PhD student, I decided that I had something to share. This blog will discuss some of the challenges that I faced as a PhD student and point to a few things that I felt I did right. Read more...

Creating that network of collaborators

23rd March 2014
Author: Stephen J Maher

Network, network, network... You hear this a lot in many different occupations, but how do you really do it? In the academic world, collaborations can really improve your working life through more engagement and excitement. This blog will discuss a few things from my experiences regarding the development of collaborative relationships. Read more...

My first day in Berlin

18th February 2014
Author: Stephen J Maher

I was excited to be travelling to Berlin to start my job as a postdoc. However, there were a few things required before I could even think about that. These were registering my residence at the Bürgeramt and applying for the work permit at the Ausländerbehörde. Leaving only 2 hours to get both done, I was sure to have some troubles. This blog will detail my eventful first day in Berlin. Read more...

The bureaucracy of starting a job in Germany - Part 2

10th January 2014
Author: Stephen J Maher

Getting a job in Germany requires many different stages of bureaucracy. In this two part blog I will go through the stages related to starting work in Germany. This first part discussed the job contract and what this means for you living in Germany. In this second part I will detail the steps you must go through to get a work permit to start your position. Read more...

The bureaucracy of starting a job in Germany - Part 1

10th January 2014
Author: Stephen J Maher

Getting a job in Germany requires many different stages of bureaucracy. In this two part blog I will go through the stages related to starting work in Germany. This first part will discuss the job contract and what this means for you living in Germany. The second part will detail the steps you must go through to get a work permit to start your position. Read more...

Finding, Applying and Landing a Job as an Academic

26th November 2013
Author: Stephen J Maher

It's time for me to start a blog. I would like to share a few things regarding my experience as an early career researcher who is about to start a post-doctoral position overseas. This will be a form of online journal, with bits of information for people looking to commence an academic career. I hope that I am able to entertain and inform you with this series of blog entries. Read more...

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