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Andrea Rendl

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If you are an expert in one of the three fields covered in this course (CP, LS and MIP) and wonder if it's worth taking a look at this course, then you might want to read this review :) I have quite some experience in CP (PhD level) and took this course to learn more about LS and MIP techniques and to broaden my general optimization experience. I decided to grant myself about 10 hours per week to solve all assignments to optimality using different techniques that I always wanted to try out on a problem, but never had time or opportunity to do so. If you have a similar objective towards this course, I can highly recommend you to take it; I had a lot of fun and learnt a lot for the following reasons: * The problem instances are not easy to solve (some are really hard) even though the problem assignments are all wellknown problems. * The electronic submission systems returns an immediate feedback on the quality of your submitted solution and indicates how far away you are from the optimal solution. This was great to assess the current state of the algorithm and also motivated to do better. * It was quite easy to interface external solvers or use other programming languages than Python. This was quite motivating to try out (and compare) different tools/languages. Also, you don't need to mess around with side works like processing instance data etc; the provided python scripts do all this for you. You can just focus on implementing your algorithm. * I watched the lectures on LS and MIP and enjoyed them a lot. Pascal is a fantastic teacher and has a very clear and structured way of explaining things, using very illustrative examples. * There are also discussion forums that I discovered quite late in the course. I found them extremely interesting, in particular to read how others tackle the assignments and what problems they have experienced. In my opinion, the forums contain a considerable amount of very valuable experience that is worth reading. * The staff of the course are extremely motivated and committed. They are involved in the discussion forums and provide weekly video mailbags in which they discuss the current status and updates. They really strive to communicate with the students. This gave me the feeling of really being involved within the course community and not of simply interacting with a webpage. I found this very motivating to keep on the (hard) work. * Finally, doing this course showed me again how much you learn by actually trying out things (in contrast to simply reading about them) and that also as an 'expert' there is still much to learn. In the end, I completed the course and had to work hard to make it to a distinction within my restricted time budget (and I was very proud and excited for having achieved it! :) In my opinion, this is a challenging, fun course from which you can learn a lot, even if you are already an expert in one of the fields.