Many engineering and policy design problems are difficult to solve and even more difficult to formulate and verify. The difficulties are most clearly seen in constraint-satisfaction and optimization terms. The subject matter of this course is equally divided between case studies about and techniques for the formulation, solution and verification of practical problems. Electricity markets, networks, cascading failures, nuclear submarines, and spy planes are examples of the case studies. Students will learn how to specify goals, choose design spaces, deal with hard, soft, and infinite numbers of constraints, accommodate multiple objectives, design meta-heuristics for problems that require many quite different skills, and develop tests to verify solutions. Grading will be on the basis of 3 or 4 short projects.
Prerequisite: Senior or graduate standing.