INRIA / ULB Ph.D. position in Operations Research

Posted by: Bernard FORTZ

INRIA Lille - Nord Europe and the Université Libre de Bruxelles - ULB offer one Ph.D. position in Operations Research.

The position is covered by a scholarship for three years. The student will spend 1.5 year in the team INOCS of  INRIA ( ) at Lille and 1.5 years in the team GOM of ULB (  in Brussels. The Ph.D. degree will be awarded by both entities.  He/she will be co supervised by Luce Brotcorne, INRIA  and Martine Labbé, ULB.

Candidates should hold  a Master's degree in Operations research, mathematics,computer science,  or similar fields and should ideally have a solid background in
 discrete optimization, integer programming, decomposition techniques. Computer science skills in algorithmic and C/C++  development are also welcome.

Knowledge of French is not required, but good communication skills and
a solid knowledge of English are essential.

Project description:

Title:  Models and methods for Stackelberg games using bilevel optimisation  and mixed integer linear programming

 In the class of games known as Stackelberg games, one agent, the leader, must commit to a strategy that can be observed by several  other agents, the followers, before he/she commits to a strategy of his/her own. The leader wishes to find an optimal payoff-maximizing mixed strategy to commit to, under the assumption that the followers will have knowledge of the leader’s mixed strategy and will best-respond to it. The problem in such games consists thus in finding a payoff-maximizing mixed strategy for the leader and corresponds to a bilevel problem with bilinear objectives.

 Stackelberg game theory has played a vital role in solving real-world security problems. In this domain, the leader is referred to as the defender whereas the followers are referred to as attackers. Stackelberg security game-theoretic applications have included effectively assigning Marshals to planes, determining randomized patrols for the U.S. Coast Guard to efficiently protect critical port infrastructure against external threats, preventing fare evasion in public transport systems as well as protecting endangered wildlife.

The Ph.D. research project will focus on the development of efficient  Mixed Integer Programming formulations and algorithms for solving Stackelberg games. On the one hand, the use of approaches such as Benders decomposition or Dantzig Wolfe reformulations might be investigated. On the other hand, variants of the game  for the security domain e.g. involving heterogenous ressources  or particular structures of the eligible pure strategies of the defender  will also be considered as  research directions.

The position is open to applicants of all nationalities.The successful candidate will
receive a monthly salary of 1500 € / 2000 $ (after taxes).

The position  is available from September, 2016.

Further enquiries should be addressed to : Luce Brotcorne (, and Martine Labbé (
Applicants should send by email an up-to-date CV, transcript, a letter of motivation, a copy of their master thesis, and a letter of recommendation.

Prof. Martine Labbé                                      
Département d'Informatique,  Université Libre de Bruxelles, CP 212
Boulevard du Triomphe, B-1050 Brussels, Belgium
Tel: + 32 (0)2 6503836, Fax: + 32 (0)2 6505970
Editor-in-Chief, EURO Journal on Computational Optimization