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Robert Ashford

Robert Ashford

Co-founder and President at Optimization Direct Inc.

Robert Ashford is one of the world’s foremost authorities on optimization. He received a master’s degree in mathematics from Cambridge University and a Ph.D. from Warwick Business School and has authored more than 20 academic papers in Optimization. Robert co-founded Dash Optimization in 1984, where he pioneered the development of new modeling and solution technologies, driving the size, complexity, and scope of optimization. Dash Optimization was sold to FICO in 2008 and Ashford subsequently co-founded Optimization Direct in 2014, which is an IBM partner. He is the original author of Xpress-MP, one of the world’s leading optimization systems.


Track: Optimization

Redistricting With Optimization

The US Census Bureau conducts a full census of all states in the USA every ten years. By law the data collected must be used to redistrict each state for the election of representatives to the US Congress, State Senate and House and City wards. This is an expensive and politically fraught process often involving significant litigation. Optimization has been proposed as a tool in this process, but the MIP models are too difficult to formulate and too hard to solve to have been used before. We describe new model formulations and solution strategies with our ODH|CPLEX optimizer. We show the results of their use in Virginia, Michigan and Arkansas. We further describe their use in redistricting the City of Pine Bluff and practical issues that need to be considered.