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The Consulate General of Germany in Shanghai supports German companies and researchers from the provinces Anhui, Jiangsu, and Zhejiang by organizing a German Science Circle which meets in Shanghai. These meetings are always very interesting and good opportunities for exchanging thoughts. Yesterday, I attended such a meeting with the focus Nanjing, which is the capital of Jiangsu and one hour by train from Hefei. There were two highly interesting presentations followed by a similarly-interesting discussion. Here I want to summarize what I learned at this meeting and add a few thoughts.

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We have two accepted papers at the Genetic and Evolutionary Computation Conference (GECCO'17), which will take place from July 15 to 19, 2017 in Berlin, Germany:

  • Weichen Liu, Thomas Weise, Yuezhong Wu, and Qi Qi. Combining Two Local Searches with Crossover: An Efficient Hybrid Algorithm for the Traveling Salesman Problem. In Proceedings of the Genetic and Evolutionary Computation Conference (GECCO'17), July 15-19, 2017, Berlin, Germany, New York, NY, USA: ACM Press, pages 298-305, ISBN: 978-1-4503-4920-8.
    doi:10.1145/3071178.3071201 / paper / slides
  • Qi Qi, Thomas Weise, and Bin Li. Modeling Optimization Algorithm Runtime Behavior and its Applications. In Proceedings of the Genetic and Evolutionary Computation Conference (GECCO'17) Companion, July 15-19, 2017, Berlin, Germany, New York, NY, USA: ACM Press, pages 115-116, ISBN: 978-1-4503-4939-0.
    doi:10.1145/3067695.3076042 / paper / poster

GECCO is the prime event for research in Evolutionary Computation and organized yearly by SIGEVO, the ACM Special Interest Group on Genetic and Evolutionary Computation. We are looking forward to meeting you at the conference ^_^

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On March 21 I visited the Intermodal Asia 2017 exhibition and conference in Shanghai, China. Intermodal logistics is about transporting goods by using multiple different means of transportation. A typical scenario can be to transport products from a factory to a train station with a truck, then with a train to a port, then via ship to a destination port, then via train to the destination city, and from there via truck to the customer. The center of this conference therefore are logistics, containers and products surrounding them, and how to transport them via trains and ships. There were many exhibiting companies, presenting products such as different container types, anti-corrosive colors, container locks, container spare parts, sharing and leasing services for containers, management software, wood, rubber, and metal products used in the context of transportation, classification and quality control for containers and their production, as well as intermodal logistics services, and transportation-centered newspapers and journals. In the innovation and technology theaters, speakers presented the newest trends and technological advances of the fields. I found this conference very inspiring, as I could learn a lot of new aspects of the intermodal logistics industry and have a few interesting discussions.

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Currently, two of the leading industry nations, Germany and China, are pushing their industry to increase a higher degree of automation. Automation is among the key technologies of concepts such as Industry 4.0 and Made in China 2025 [中国制造2025]. The goal is not automation in the traditional sense, i.e., the fixed and rigid implementation of static processes which are to be repeated millions of times in exactly the same way. Instead, decisions should be automated, i.e., the machinery carrying out processes in production and logistics should dynamically decide what to do based on its environment and its current situation. In other words, these machines should become intelligent.

As a researcher in optimization and operations research, this idea is not new to me. Actually, this is exactly the goal of work and it has been the goal for the past seven decades – with one major difference: the level at which the automated, intelligent decision process takes place. In this article I want to shortly discuss my point of view on this matter.

Portrait of Mrs. Bing ZHOU.

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The Institute of Applied Optimization welcomes Mrs. Bing Zhou [周冰], who today has joined us as administrative secretary [行政秘书]. She has previously studied English here at the Hefei University [合肥学院]. She took part very successfully in English language competitions and has gained experience via several voluntary activities. She will not just support us as translator and secretary, but also actively contribute to the administration and management of this institute.

We are looking forward to working together.

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