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Key Skills: Excel, Solver, R programming, Python, Gurobi, MySQL, prescriptive analytics, optimization models, linear and non-linear programming, discrete algorithms, heuristic solutions, interpreting models for business applications, problem-solving for optimization
Description: Optimization and Heuristics is part of the Online MSBA core, introducing students to analytics methodologies involved in problem-solving for a given industry. This course in prescriptive analytics—using a data model to inform a recommended course of action—is central to the understanding of the analytics modeling process. Where optimization is about uncovering the best solution to a problem, heuristic solutions approximate the optimal solution. In other words, constructing heuristics can be more efficient and give an organization a competitive edge, but they also present difficulties of accurately representing real-world processes with a mathematical model.
Throughout the course students encounter the theory and applications of optimization, including linear programming, non-linear programming, discrete optimization, and specialized networks. Students will create optimization models using Excel with Solver in addition to R and Python with Gurobi. Emphasis in the course is placed on developing more advanced skills in programming and modeling for use with larger and larger data sets. Students will finish the course with the ability to integrate these programming packages with the MySQL, a database management system that aids the manipulation of larger data sets.