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[multiagent] PhD position - DSS for freight intermodal transportation

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  • Emmanuel Adam
    PhD position in DSS for freight intermodal transportation - University of Valenciennes(FRANCE) *Title*: A reactive decision support system for freight
    Message 1 of 1 , May 5 8:17 AM
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      PhD position in DSS for freight intermodal transportation - University
      of Valenciennes(FRANCE)

      *Title*: A reactive decision support system for freight intermodal
      barge transportation services

      *Financial support*: Doctoral Contract for three years (2012-2015)

      *Co-director of the PhD*: A. Artiba (UVHC/LAMIH)
      *Thesis supervisors*:
      - I. Bilegan (UVHC/LAMIH), e-mail: ioana.bilegan@...
      - E. Adam (UVHC/LAMIH), e-mail: emmanuel.adam@...

      *Research Laboratory*: LAMIH UMR CNRS/UVHC 8201, Valenciennes;
      Research Team: Decision, Interaction and Mobility (DIM)

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      The candidate needs a strong background in Computer Sciences and/or in
      Operations Research including methods of modeling and optimization,
      discrete-event system simulation, as well as algorithms and data
      structures in C/C++ language; multi-agent systems knowledge would be
      appreciated. French language is not required. The scholarship is open
      to all nationalities.

      An international internship of six months will have to be completed
      during the PhD thesis period, with the Professor T.G. Crainic, the
      Director of the Intelligent Transportation Systems Laboratory of the
      CIRRELT (Interuniversity Research Centre on Enterprise Networks,
      Logistics and Transportation), Montreal, Canada.

      To apply, please send by e-mail, to the thesis supervisors, the
      following documents: an extended CV (including a list of publications
      and scientific/technical reports), a certificate with scores and
      ranking during the last three years of academic studies, at least two
      letters of recommendation (or contacts of at least two referees) and a
      letter describing the motivations and the professional project of the

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      **PhD Project**:

      In the context of freight intermodal transportation, the goal of this
      research is to contribute to the development of sustainable
      transportation systems, and to allow and improve the modal transfer
      towards less polluting transportation modes, especially concerning the
      inland waterway network.

      Taking advantage of a well-designed decision support system to manage
      intermodal transport activities is an essential asset. Up to now, many
      research initiatives and industrial projects tackled the complex
      problem of intermodal transportation chains organization, with a
      particular interest towards railways, as a ?greener? transportation
      alternative. Nevertheless, from this point of view, just a few
      published studies discuss about the inland waterway as an intermodal
      transportation alternative (Caris, 2011).

      As a general framework, the approach of this type of transportation
      problems is as follows: on the basis of an existing demand knowledge,
      the service network design is done and services are planned on the
      middle-term (weeks, months), followed by the operational level
      activities optimisation on the short-term (hours, days) in order to
      minimise costs. The revenue management approach allows, at the
      operational level, the optimal assignment of services available
      capacities with respect to the forecasted demands, in order to
      maximise expected revenues of a company.

      One of the innovative aspects of this research work is the application
      of revenue management concepts and thus the use of differential
      pricing strategies based on reasonable criteria for the clients. These
      policies are successfully applied in many different sectors, and are
      used by commercial airlines, for passenger transportation, for more
      than 30 years now. The concepts of revenue management have been
      proposed, in a basic form, in 1972 (Littlewood, 1972) and have not
      ceased to be developed and to gain in applications diversity (Boyd and
      Bilegan, 2003) since. Revenue management has become today a
      well-established research field in the domain of Operations Research
      (Talluri and van Ryzin, 2004). The constraints and specificities of
      applying revenue management to intermodal barge transportation make
      this research problem a challenging topic, which constitutes the
      central point of the doctoral study.

      The second original aspect of this thesis is to provide demand
      forecasting by the use of a client behaviour modelling based on the
      multiagent system paradigm. Clients will be modelled with software
      agents that allow the definition of a typology of clients (by using
      roles), as well as of individual properties for each client. This
      ?agentification? of clients allows the realization of more realistic
      simulations of their behaviours than by the use of classical models.
      The ?agentification? of service suppliers will also allow them to
      analyse, test and validate several strategies of transportation
      service offers. Some recent works have already shown the interest and
      pertinence of this approach (e.g. Cleophas 2012).

      Those two approaches will lead to the design of a reactive decision
      support system to help the process of planning and management of
      intermodal transportation operations. The implementation of the
      decision support system will be done through the design of dedicated
      software, which will have to analyse the feasibility, the
      profitability and finally the acceptability of each incoming demand.
      This analysis and the decision-making will be done on the basis of the
      newest available information in the system, with respect both to the
      demand and to the transportation services offer. Information will be
      updated on a regular basis or in real-time, thus ensuring the
      reactivity of the system.

      At the methodological and theoretical level, the project is concerned
      with problems of the following type: demand modelling and forecasting,
      optimal capacity allocation, stochastic and dynamic systems simulation
      and optimisation, and decision support systems design. At the
      application and implementation level, the project will benefit from
      the direct collaboration with a trans-frontier consortium made up of
      several major actors in maritime and river navigation and in inland
      waterway infrastructure management, in the Northern France and
      Belgium, who work together for the development of sustainable and
      integrated intermodal transportation innovative solutions.

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      **Key-words**: revenue management, agent-based simulation, demand
      modelling, stochastic simulation, dynamic systems, decision support
      systems, intermodal freight transportation, inland waterway navigation.

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