The application of academic research results to industry maximizes the impacts on businesses, individuals and society and generates benefits for researchers and students. This is precisely what Professor Soumis has been able to do through his exceptional work and the commercial applications it led to.
From 2000 to 2015, François Soumis held the Canada Research Chair in Large Transportation Network Optimization. He has focused his career on mathematical decomposition, including column generation, Dantzig-Wolfe decomposition, Benders decomposition and constraint aggregation, which may be applied to complex optimization problems that involve millions of variables and constraints that standard computers and methods cannot process. One of his key contributions was to make the use of decomposition methods, which were once highly theoretical, possible and functional. Concretely, these methods serve, for example, to resolve scheduling issues in major transportation networks.
François Soumis holds a bachelor’s and a master’s in mathematics and a PhD in informatics and operational research from Université de Montréal. He has been a professor of operational research at Polytechnique Montréal since 1987. In 1985, he founded Technologies AD OPT in an effort to meet industry needs through the application of academic research results, fund his research activities and create ties between academia and industry and employment opportunities for students. The first product developed by the firm enabled the real-time management of truck fleets in open-pit mines. Since then, AD OPT has continued to develop new applications for transportation issues. Released in the late 1980s, the CrewOpt software was widely used in Québec to optimize the urban transportation networks and quickly became as an international reference in the field. In the 1990s, the firm focused on air transport, a sector in which it still specializes today.
Awards and honours
In 2011, François Soumis earned the IBM Faculty Award to support collaborations between academic researchers and IBM. In 2004, he was a finalist for the international Edelman Award for the best application of operations research, which aims to highlight, recognize and reward exceptional examples of operational research, management science and cutting-edge analytics. In 2014, Professor Soumis received the Prix Lionel-Boulet—one of the highest awards handed out to researchers by the government of Québec—in recognition of his career, research results, leadership in scientific development and contribution to economic growth in Québec.