University of Exeter funding: A decomposition framework for mathe

A decomposition framework for mathematical programming problems, Mathematics, Computer Science, Operations Research – PhD (Funded) Ref: 3751

About the award


Dr Stephen J. Maher, Department of Mathematics, College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences, University of Exeter.

Location: Department of Mathematics, Streatham Campus, University of Exeter.

The University of Exeter’s College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences is inviting applications for a fully-funded PhD studentship to commence in February 2020 or as soon as possible thereafter.  For eligible students the studentship will cover UK/EU/International tuition fees plus an annual tax-free stipend of at least £15,009 for 3.5 years full-time, or pro rata for part-time study.  The student would be based in the College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences at the Streatham Campus in Exeter.

Project Description:

Mathematical optimisation problems arising from real-world applications typically consist of many interconnecting components, i.e. a fleet of vehicles at a delivery depot, crew and aircraft in airline operations and the numerous, semi-autonomous power stations supplying the electricity grid. These interconnections introduce structure that can be exploited through the use of decomposition techniques. A popular decomposition technique used to exploit such structure is Benders’ decomposition.

Recently, a general Benders’ decomposition framework has been made available within the mathematical and constraint programming solver SCIP ( This framework provides the functionality to solve many real-world optimisation problems, specifically mixed integer programs and convex quadratic programs. However, there are still many problem classes that are not fully supported, such as convex and non-convex mixed integer non-linear problems. The goal of this project is to extend the Benders’ decomposition framework in SCIP to handle a wider range of problem classes. This will involve the development of novel solution algorithms that can be applied to general problems instances.

This project requires a high competency in mathematics and software design and development. You will become part of the SCIP Development Team ( and contribute to the growth of this highly regarded general purpose solver. Knowledge of discrete optimisation, operations research and linear programming is a bonus.

This award provides annual funding to cover UK/EU/International tuition fees and a tax-free stipend. The studentship will be awarded on the basis of merit for 3.5 years of full-time study to commence in February 2020.

Entry requirements

Applicants for this studentship must have obtained, or be about to obtain, a First or Upper Second Class UK Honours degree, or the equivalent qualifications gained outside the UK, in mathematics, computer science, industrial engineering or other related field. 

If English is not your first language you will need to have achieved at least 6.0in IELTS and no less than 6.0 in any section by the start of the project.  Alternative tests may be acceptable (see

How to apply

In the application process you will be asked to upload several documents. 

  • CV
  • Letter of application (outlining your academic interests, prior research experience and reasons for wishing to undertake the project).
  • Transcript(s) giving full details of subjects studied and grades/marks obtained (this should be an interim transcript if you are still studying)
  • Two references from referees familiar with your academic work. If your referees prefer, they can email the reference direct to quoting the studentship reference number.
  • If you are not a national of a majority English-speaking country you will need to submit evidence of your proficiency in English.

The closing date for applications is midnight on 15 November 2019.  Interviews will be held on the University of Exeter Streatham Campus the week commencing 25th November 2019.

If you have any general enquiries about the application process please email or phone +44 (0)1392 722730 or +44 (0)1392 725150.  Project-specific queries should be directed to Dr Stephen J. Maher


Application deadline:15th November 2019
Duration of award:per year
Contact: STEMM PGR Admissions