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Professor Mike Wright

Emeritus Professor

Mike Wright

The Management School



Tel: +44 1524 593846

Research Interests

The development and analysis of metaheuristic methods and their implementation to practical problems including sports timetabling and employee scheduling.

The analysis of tactics in sports, especially football and cricket.


Born in 1953 in Warwickshire.  Worked for British Rail in York and London before serendipitously landing in Lancaster.  Married with three children and two grandchildren so far.  Lives just outside Lancaster, sings, plays cricket, tennis, indoor hockey and golf, walks, travels, listens to music, goes to the theatre.  Actively supports Lancaster City Football Club in a vaguely patriotic though largely masochistic fashion.

Current Teaching

Strategic Management Simulation; Introduction to Project and Event Management; supervision of placements, projects and dissertations.  Recently also Heuristics, Optimisation, Introduction to OR, Introductory Statistics, Introduction to Business Analytics, Project Management Skills, OR and its Context.


BA, MSc Oxford (Mathematics)

PhD Lancaster (Operational Research)

Current Research

Cricket and rugby fixture schedule analysis and timetabling

Cricket umpire scheduling for both professional and amateur leagues

Analysis of parameters for Simulated Annealing

Professional Role

Member of OR Society's Education and Research Committee

Thesis Title

Metaheuristic techniques for the solution of complex combinatorial problems with more than one objective

External Roles

Member of OR Society's Education and Research Committee

Research Grants

Ear-marked EPSRC PhD grant 1992-5

My Role

Recently the Director of the MSc in Project Management.  Betwen 2003 and 2009 I was the Management School's Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies.

Thesis Outline

The thesis includes nine published papers, all on the subject of Neighbourhood Search metaheuristic techniques for solving combinatorial optimization problems with more than one type of objective.  The first five are very application-oriented.  The first of these five concerns a real type of problem, but does not report a specific implementation of the application.  However, the next four papers go further and describe highly complex problems which have arisen in practice and the approaches and techniques used by the author to solve them.  The last four papers complement these by exploring the development of the techniques, reporting the results of experiments into their application and extension.  Thus the research demonstrates a progress from the particular to the general.  Specific approaches were found to work well in particular situations; this provided a spur to discover whether these techniques could be developed and used successfully in other circumstances.  

One of the most useful results of this research is the demonstration of how metaheuristic approaches can be used in practice to solve large complex real problems.  Careful definition of seemingly ill-defined notions and the intelligent development and application of techniques have combined to produce methods which give highly satisfactory solutions to such problems.  The main theoretical result from this research is the development of an approach called "Subcost-Guided Search", which includes "Subcost-Guided Simulated Annealing".  Papers 2, 4 and 5 show its application for real problems, while papers 8 and 9 discuss experimental results and different ways of applying the idea.

Other useful contributions are also presented.  For example, the related issues of problem formulation, neighbourhood definition and the nature of search space are highlighted in several of the papers.  The proposed measurement and effect of problem complexity are also discussed. 

The papers were all strictly refereed and published in high-quality journals or books.

Business and Enterprise

Timetabling of the county cricket fixtures and allocation of umpires to all the top cricket matches in England and Wales every year since 1990 for the England and Wales Cricket Board.

Similar types of project, though on a slightly smaller scale, for New Zealand Cricket, Basketball New Zealand, New Zealand Rugby, the Minor Counties Cricket Association, the Devon Cricket League, the Home Counties Cricket League and the ICC Cricket World Cups in 1999 and 2007.

Design, creation and implementation of a computer system to timetable the lessons for Ripley St.  Thomas School in Lancaster, again using innovative and up-to-date techniques of my own devising.  This was used in practice for five years (1992-1996).

PhD Supervisions Completed

  1. Kazem Shamshiri (1988-1991): "Effective heuristic techniques for tackling resource-constrained scheduling problems".  PhD awarded in 1991.
  2. Homi Khamooshi (1989-1994, mainly part-time): "Heuristic network-based project scheduling: the Dynamic Priority Scheduling Method".  PhD awarded in 1994.
  3. Richard Marett (1992-1995): "Neighbourhood search techniques for multi-objective combinatorial problems".  This research was funded by an SERC (now EPSRC) "ear-marked" award made in 1992, the only such award made in OR that year in the whole of the UK.  PhD awarded in 1995.
  4. André Amaral (1997-2000): "Solution methods for cutting and packing problems".  PhD awarded in 2000.
  5. Nobuyoshi Hirotsu (1998-2002): "Analysis of tactics for football and baseball".  PhD awarded in 2002.
  6. Khodakaram Salimifard (1998-2003): "The use of Petri Nets for workflow problems".  PhD awarded in 2003.
  7. Konstantinos Kaparis (2004-2008): on multidimensional knapsack problems (joint supervision).  PhD awarded in 2008.
  8. Abubakar Yahaya (2007-2011) on portfolio optimisation using metaheuristics

PhDs Examined

External examiner for twelve PhD students at Strathclyde University (2), University of Wales (Swansea), Birmingham University, Swinburne University of Technology, Waikato University, Nottingham University (2), Leeds University, Napier University, Bradford University and Cardiff University.  Internal examiner for six PhD students in the Department of Management Science.

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  • PATAT 2012

    Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesParticipation in conference -Mixed Audience

  • PATAT 2012

    Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesParticipation in conference -Mixed Audience

  • EURO 2012

    Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesParticipation in conference -Mixed Audience

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