“Small and very narrow boxes …”. This could have been the leitmotiv phrase to fill in François Clautiaux’s hours leading up to his PhD.
Already holding his Master’s degree in computer sciences and applications, before coming to UTFC, François registered for the Information and System Technologies Master at UTC to specialize on operational research (OR). In 2002 he defended a PhD thesis. “Initially, the problem came via a former industrial partnership with a Picardie Region SME who had encountered problems to fit various objects into boxes”, he recalls. In order to optimize the problem, François Clautiaux, with financial support from the French HE & Research Ministry, started his theoretical work. “The issue I investigated was to see how to fit objects in a 2‑D recipient context. The aim was to fit small rectangles in larger triangles”. The problem framed this way appears simple. “But, in fact, it is very complex, a combinatory problem with billions of possible solutions”. In practical terms, there are numerous applications, running from printed circuit designs to positioning containers in a warehouse.
Mathematical methods alone do not provide a solution. “To find applicable solutions you need to use computers”.