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Special: These theses that change life

It is a recognized fact that PhDs bring undoubted talents and innovative skills to the world of enterprise. UTC has chosen to present - in text, videos and humoristic photos - some theses that have led to highly beneficial applications in our day-to-day life. We’d like to think that you, the entrepreneurs will be inspired to trust PhDs as recruiting officers do all around the world nowadays!

Special: These theses that change life

Lower limits and exact computational methods used to solve the bin-packing problem with a set orientation

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 “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”.

There were pre-existing papers on this ’best-fit’ subject leading to various rapidly applied solutions. “The real problem was to prove that the solution chosen was the best possible”. The algorithms designed by François Clautiaux have been used by other research scientists producing solutions that are used in industrial sectors. The logistics sector for example, was obviously interested in this thesis work to optimize loading questions. The glass industries too, inasmuch as storing plate glass and carrying out optimized glass plate cuts would lead to lower wastes“. François Clautiaux today is Professor of Mathematics at the University of Bordeaux and is involved in consultancy work for Renault to solve truck loading issues. He is also going to start a second thesis with and for Saint-Gobain Group who wish to acquire optimized glass cutting technologies and processes.