MgS 4120. Optimal Resource Allocation
Spring, 2010

Dr. Whalen 840 RCB (35 Broad Street)  Click here for schedule
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Prerequisite: Advanced Spreadsheet Skills (CSP 1, 3, 4, 7) 
Required Text:  
Linear Programming Fundamentals. Whalen & Churchill, available online: see links from schedule
The entire class web structure accessable from the schedule, is also essential reading for the course.

Catalog Descriptions
MgS 4120 -  Optimal Resource Allocation.
Prerequisite: DSc 3120 or MgS 3100     CSP: 1, 3, 4, 7. Requires a 2.5 GSU GPA.
This course focuses on optimization modeling and sensitivity analysis to help managers craft well-formed, well-justified decisions. Students design optimization models for realistic cases, implement them using spreadsheets, and write the results in the form of a nontechnical recommendation to management backed up by clearly organized technical appendices.

Detailed Course Description
The course begins by considering a very simple linear resource allocation problem to introduce linear programming, dimensional analysis, and sensitivity analysis in a simple setting.  Progressively more complex resource allocation problems illustrate slack and surplus variables, allocating financial resources and formulation issues

The next section considers blending problems, especially problems in which there is some flexibility in the ingredients of two or more products.
Personnel shift coverage problems and assignment problems are important in themselves and also provide an introduction to the use of matrices in linear programming.  Next come multi-period inventory, single & multi-period Finance, and production, inventory,  and finance all together.

Linear transportation models lead into a section on capacitated transshipment, shortest route & maximal flow problems. These are presented in a context of supply chain management.  The problem of warehouse location in two-stage supply chain optimization provides an introduction to integer programming.

Quadratic programming is introduced in a context of financial portfolios , and a synthesis of quadratic and integer programming is presented in the context of price determination.  General nonlinear programming is introduces in the context of optimal order quantity (which is mathematically the same as optimal production runs).

The course concludes with a unit on goal programming to balance conflicting objectives.  Fuzzy linear programming is briefly introduced in the context of goal programming.

Learning Outcomes/Course Objectives
At the conclusion of this course, the student should be able to:
  • Determine whether a particular business case or situation calls for an optimization model
  • Choose an appropriate linear, nonlinear, dynamic, or fuzzy optimization technique
  • Implement an optimization model to inform the business decision making process.
  • Write a clear complete cogent presentation of the results of a mathematical programming analysis
    Methods of Instruction
    Instruction is by lecture and discussion, plus in-class exercises.  Homework projects are also integral to the instruction,  and students are strongly encouraged to use the instructor as a resource throughout these projects via email and other methods.

    Grading Criteria
    Grading will be based on four  components, weighted as follows:
    * 30% Homework Assignments
    * 20% In-Class Midterm Exam
    * 20% Take-hone Comprehensive Final Exam
    * 30% Project

    HoMework Assignments:
    Homework assignments are integral to the instruction,  and students are strongly encouraged to use the instructor as a resource throughout these projects via email and other methods.  
    If homework is turned in on time, you get a "second chance" to re-do it after getting it back; the final grade for the homework will be the average of the two tries or A-, whichever is lower.  (Thus, if you get A- the first time there's no incentive to re-do.)  Late homework is assessed a one-step penalty per class period late  (for example, A becomes A-, A- becomes B+, and so on), and there is no second chance on late homework.
    I welcome specific questions about the homework; email your questions to 4120 [at] whalen3 [dot] org
    "Tell me how to do this assignment so I don't have to think for myself" or "Here's my answer; grade it ahead of time so I can get an extra free re-do if it's wrong" do not qualify as "specific questions."

    You mist work individually on the homework.   Copying another's work, knowingly or negligently allowing another to copy yours, or collaborating on a rough draft you both copy from will all result in a grade of F for the entire course.  This includes computer work.

    In Class Midterm:
    The midterm is multiple-choice, based on interpretation of Excel printouts (Including sensitivity analysis)

    Comprehensive Final Exam:
    The take-home final will include some problems you must set up (including a formal dimensional analysis), some set-up problems you must enter into Excel and solve, and some solved problems you must write a clear and cogent explanation of (including a formal dimensional analysis).  You will not have to do all three parts of any one problem.

    You mist work individually on the exam.   Copying another's work, knowingly or negligently allowing another to copy yours, or collaborating on a rough draft you both copy from will all result in a grade of F for the entire course.  This includes computer work.

    The project for MgS 4120 is a part of the University's "Critical Thinking Through Writing" initiative.   Your project, based on parts a through e of the Virulence project at the end of the Whalen & Churchill textbook available online, is in three parts.  I have provided a cover sheet for each part, which you should turn in as the first page of each submission; it has a place for your name and the details of how I will grade the work.  (In education jargon, this is called a "rubric.")   I will use it to show you how your particular grade was assessed.

    In part 1 of the project you will answer question a of the exercise and write a first draft of an executive summary.  In part 2 you will correct the errors, if any, in part a, do parts b through e, and write a second draft of the executive summary.  In Part 3, all you turn in is the third cover sheet and the final version of the executive summary.  (You don't have to do parts f and g, and won't get any extra credit if you do.)

    By the University's definition, assignments that focus on critical thinking as demonstrated through writing are assignments that use writing to help students develop the "wide range of cognitive skills and intellectual dispositions needed to effectively identify, analyze, and evaluate arguments and truth claims; to discover and overcome ill-founded presuppositions ["personal prejudices" in the original]; to formulate and present convincing reasons in support of conclusions; and to make reasonable, intelligent decisions about what to believe and what to do." (Bassham, Irwin, Nardone & Wallace, Critical Thinking: A Student's Introduction (McGraw-Hill, 2005) page 1.)

    I have changed "personal prejudices" to "ill-founded presuppositions" since I doubt many of you have "personal prejudices" in the usual sense of the phrase about the subject matter of this course, but there will be times that your initial way of thinking about a situation may need to be discarded as you delve deeper.

    The project must be submitted on standard letter-size PAPER; it is your responsibility to get it properly formatted and printed out.  When printing spreadsheets, use landscape or portrait printing, fonts, page break control, and whatever else is needed to produce something that is very easy to read.  It will probably take more than one attempt.

    The most important component of the project report is the executive summary.  This should be in the form of a  memo to the management of the enterprise in question presenting a recommendation for action based on all the analysis you have done, together with a clear, cogent, concise, and non-technical summary of the justification for this recommendatio
    If you are not familiar with the word "cogent," look it up in a couple of different good dictionaries.
    I will not accept any project emailed in Word and/or Excel formats under any circumstances.   (Email in pdf format or fax to 1-626-605-2586 are OK.)

    Reading Assignments
    The general rule of thumb for university courses is two hours of preparation outside class for every hour in class; in other words, five hours out of class for each 2.5 hour class.  If you come to class without having read the assigned textbook pages and websites beforehand, you will get much less benefit from the lecture . It's perfectly OK if you do not completely UNDERSTAND the readings before class; at least you'll have a more-or-less vague idea of what the questions are. If you come to class honestly confused about the material, you will probably leave class with some real understanding, but if you don't do the readings ahead of time you will come to class in blissful ignorance and leave confused.
    The best way to study the material, both for pre-class preparation and post-class review, is to work the problems and re-create the spreadsheets.
    Course Outline:  Click here for schedule