Best Thesis in Applied Math Award

The final candidates selected for the Best Thesis in Applied Math Award

The jury for the Best Thesis in Applied Math Award 2022 has selected three candidates for the final round in both the BSc and MSc categories.  The three finalists in each category will give a short pitch on their thesis during the Math4NL Community Event on November 4, 2022. From this, the overall winner in each category will be selected. Both other finalists in each category will be awarded the second price.

Overall, the jury was pleasantly surprised by the good quality of almost all submissions. Three finalists had to be selected but the choice was extremely hard. This clearly demonstrates the high level of applied mathematics in the Netherlands.

The jury also noted the wide range of topics that were addressed, which shows that many companies, government organizations and institutes understand the value of mathematics and find ways to collaborate with universities to solve their challenges.

BSc Category
The three finalists in the BSc category are:

Gaby Hageman with the thesis “Probability that a Guillain-Barré syndrome patient cannot walk independently after six months”
For Erasmus MC, Gaby investigated whether machine learning models could help to better predict whether patients with the Guillain-Barré syndrome are not able to walk independently six months. This thesis was not only selected because the data preparation and model selection were done very thoroughly, but also because Gaby kept the clinical applicability in mind during her research. This results in useful recommendations that are practically applicable.

Meggie Wijen with the thesis “Towards healthier pork”
For Vision Partners, Meggie has investigated the potential of machine vision to determine a specific characteristic of pork. If successful, this could be used to make the production process of pork more sustainable. Meggie has combined spectrometry with machine learning to develop an in-line method for estimating this characteristic. Initial results have proven to be successful, and Meggie has given several practical and concrete recommendations to improve the developed method.

Thomas van Houdt with the thesis “A transport planning problem for an equipment rental company”
Loxam Nederland asked Thomas’ to develop a planning model for the transport of equipment from each of their locations to their customers and vice versa. He identified this as a Multiple Depot, Multiple Compartment, multiple Vehicle Routing Problem with Mixed Backhauls. By assigning each client to one of the locations of the rental company, the problem was reduced to a problem per location which is then solved with a combination of a heuristic and a tabu search algorithm. 

MSc Category
The three finalists in the MSc category are:

Shravan Chipli, with the thesis “Automating AC Power Flow Simulations”.
Shravan has developed a method for solving year-round AC power flow simulations for Tennet. Until now, such simulations could not practically be done but even though they are needed for planning changes to the power grid. Such changes are important to handle the transition to sustainable energy sources. The jury selected this thesis because of the nice and original work in the field of numerical analysis. It also convincingly solves a very relevant issue, clearly demonstrating the value of applied mathematics.

Teun Druijf, with the thesis “Optimizing Shunting Operations”.
For DB Cargo Nederland, Teun has investigated methods to improve the planning of shunting at the Kijfhoek shunting yard. This became an issue now that the operator of the yard has started to provide shunting services to third parties. Teuns was notable for bridging the gap between practice and mathematics: he nicely translates the shunting operations into a mathematical description and, reversely, gives very practical recommendations for the Kijfhoek shunting yard.

Yanna van der Vlugt, with the thesis “Timeslot allocation for waiting list control”.
The work of Yanna helps to improve the planning process for patients at Sint Maartenskliniek. This not only optimizes the use of the available doctors and operating rooms, but also leads to more patients being treated before their urgency level deadline. Given the current problems with lack of personnel, and delayed care, Yanna’s work could not be timelier. The jury praised Yanna’s very clear presentation and the broad exploration of the subject and solution methods.

Best Thesis in Applied Math Award 2021 for Daniel Gomon

2 september 2021

At the first Dutch Mathematics Community Event the Best Thesis in Applied Math Award 2021 was awarded to Daniel Gomon for his thesis “Continuous time control charts: generalizations and an application to the Dutch Arthroplasty Register (LROI)”. Daniels research was aimed at early identification of quality problems in transplantation surgery for the LROI (Landelijke Registratie Orthopedische Implantaten). According to the jury his presentation was clear, also for (relative) layman. The jury especially liked how Daniel showed the pros and cons for each of the methods he had analysed. The Dutch Arthroplasty Register will implement the result of Daniels work, faster detection of problems in the health care around hip prostheses, as soon as possible in order to improve the quality of care.

Maaike Vollebergh and Irene Kuin, the other finalists, also received praise from the jury for their work and presentation. The research of Irene took place in the challenging environment of the judiciary, where mathematics is not commonly used and data availability is limited. She did however develop a method within an Approximate Dynamic Programming framework for the optimal scheduling of law cases. The success of this work is clear as the judiciary is going to fund two PhD-students for follow-up.

Maaike Vollebergh showed with a simple pictogram why the current planning model of the Netherlands Railways doesn’t work optimally. She introduced a new methodology which she tested on the rail network of Noord Holland. The results are promising and the Netherlands Railways already had another master student performing follow-up research.

We congratulate all three finalists for their excellent work and presentation.



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