Breaking world records with a deeper purpose

Man Holding Two Trophies

How quickly can you solve a Rubik’s Cube? You’d have to beat Mats Valk, who solved the puzzle in 4.74 seconds, beating the previous record by nearly 0.2 seconds.

Equally impressive is Australian Marawa Ibrahim, who managed to spin 200 hula hoops simultaneously. There’s also Mischo Erban, who reached the incredible speed of 95.83 kilometers per hour on an electric skateboard; and Franky Zapata, who flew over 2,000 meters on a hover board.

Quintiq has one thing in common with these individuals — we all hold world records.

(Disclaimer: you won’t find Quintiq in the Guinness Book of World Records. Ours is verified by SINTEF, an independent research organization that keeps track of the best known solutions to combinatorial optimization problems.)

Not always about the recognition

So what is it that drives these record breakers forward? Why would they invest all those hours, all that effort, in breaking world records? Is it for the sole purpose of having their names mentioned in a record book? I can’t answer on behalf of Mats or Franky. But what’s certain is that recognition is not the be all and end all of world records.

For example, Quintiq endeavored to break world records in production scheduling and logistics route planning not to get into the record books but to test the upper limits of our optimization technology.

The VRTW: One problem, infinite solutions

If you’re not familiar with the Vehicle Routing Problem with Time Windows (VRPTW), it’s basically one logistics problem with countless possible solutions. To crack it, one has to work out a set of delivery routes that uses the least number of vehicles and travels over the shortest distance to reach hypothetical customers within specific timeframes.

Here’s a peak at one of the solutions we produced.

good-solution

A good solution

 

better-solution

A world record solution

Being the passionate puzzle solvers that we are, we dived into our optimizer’s rows of code to discover where we could make even the tiniest of improvements, and applied them to the challenge. In return for our efforts, we smashed 80 world records – a feat seconded by none so far.

A real difference in the real world

With every bit of distance we shave off in the VRPTW, the same advancements in our technology are applied to our solutions in the real world, which translates to even more efficient operations for our customers and a bigger difference to their bottom lines. A great reason to keep breaking world records, don’t you think?

This post was previously published on LinkedIn.