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Dr Ben Black

Research student

Lancaster University

The Management School



United Kingdom


Before coming to Lancaster University, I studied for my BSc in mathematics and MSc in operational research and applied statistics at Cardiff University. These two courses taught me a lot, and further enhanced my enthusiasm for these subjects. My main interests while at Cardiff were mathematical programming, game theory and machine learning. While studying for my MSc I became more and more determined to keep studying for a PhD, which led me to STOR-i.

My PhD project is an industrially funded one, where I work with BT to try to automate their planning process. This process concerns planning the work of their field engineers, covering how much supply to make available and to which of their skills the engineers should devote their hours. Our two main approaches to the problem are mathematical programming and reinforcement learning. Since BT come up with new plans every day, however, we believe using a learning approach will save valuable time in their planning process in comparison with a mathematical programming approach. The project is supervised by Chris Kirkbride and Trivikram Dokka (Lancaster), and Russell Ainslie, Mathias Kern and Gilbert Owusu (BT).

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