Recently, a number of questions have been marked [Homework] which is highly correlated with start of the new fall semester. While it's good that OR-Exchange is attracting new visitors, it should not become a problem solving forum for students. However, we might be able to provide these students with some resources for solving their problems.

As someone who has taught OR courses and has been a TA for various OR-related courses, I think introducing students to some of the tutorial software (or websites) which are interactive can enhance their learning (in fact, some famous textbooks in OR have them as one of their accompanying materials). On the negative side, some of these software (or websites) can be a problem solving machine and do many of the works a student should do by himself with no help from outside (some of these software come as far as creating the whole Simplex tableau for solving a LP automatically). Therefore, use of these tutorial software must be ultimately the instructor's choice.

Since many OR educators are members of this site, I thought surveying their opinion before posting such list would be for the best. So, please let me know about your opinion. After reviewing all the pros and cons, I'll mark this question a wiki and start compiling the list with help of other members.

asked 07 Nov '11, 04:58

Ehsan's gravatar image

Ehsan ♦
accept rate: 16%

edited 22 Nov '11, 15:45

I'll post my initial list as an answer and I mark it as a wiki. Should I edit the title of the question to show that this is list or should create a new question? If our admins think the answer would be better as a separate new question, please feel free to convert it.

(10 Nov '11, 03:14) Ehsan ♦

I definitely think that a list of tutorial resources would be great. I don't think there is any advantage in making tutorial sites hard to get to, even though some students may overuse them instead of doing work themselves. Anyone motivated enough to hunt down resources on the internet and figure out how to use them will probably be ok anyway.

Another point is that by having a list of resources, motivated educators can see where they might be lacking and perhaps develop new tutorials themselves.


answered 07 Nov '11, 05:02

DC%20Woods's gravatar image

DC Woods ♦
accept rate: 5%

edited 07 Nov '11, 05:19

I completely agree with you. As I've seen students who are not capable of a simple search for finding these software or don't even know about them, I think compiling this list would be a great help to them.

(07 Nov '11, 05:16) Ehsan ♦

In regard to students on ORX, then majority of users here do want to help, if the student just did some thinking on his own and asked a specific question. The problem is the homework question we have now is just someone completely arrogantly pasting a question from a assignment. Those questions will keep coming no matter what we do. That being said I do like the idea of providing more information for self help.

(07 Nov '11, 05:23) Bo Jensen ♦

@Ehsan: I'm in need of a complete idiot's guide to COIN-OR, by the way.

(07 Nov '11, 12:15) fbahr ♦

@fbahr: Me too. I really want to use COIN-OR in my research. However, I think its help is not suitable for self study and you might need someone to guide you through. Maybe it would be a good idea to compile a list for good tutorials of various optimization software.

(07 Nov '11, 12:40) Ehsan ♦

@fbahr: I just came across this tutorial for COIN-OR and thought perhaps you've not seen this before. The examples seem nice and detailed.

(18 Nov '11, 03:16) Ehsan ♦
  1. IORTutorial (Interactive Operations Research Tutorial): An interactive OR tutorial software that comes with various editions of Hillier and Leiberman's "Introductions to Operations Research" (it latest edition is 9th). It has many modules for solving LP (various methods), transportation problem, assignment problem, network simplex method, branch and bound for BIP and MIP models, various NLP methods, Markov chains, queueing theory, inventory theory, Markov decision processes, simulation, forecasting, and metaheuristics. Some of the modules are fully interactive, while some are just for demonstration. An older version for the 8th edition of the book (last updated October 2004) is available free through here.

  2. TORA: An interactive OR tutorial software that comes with various editions of Taha's "Operations Research: An Introduction" (it's latest edition is 9th). Some of its modules are solving linear equations, LP (various methods), transportation problem, branch and bound, various network models, CPM and PERT, queueing analysis, and zero-sum games. This software is included on a CD along the book.

  3. tutOR: An online website maintained by Moshe Sniedovich which includes interactive java-based applets for learning multiple topics in linear algebra, linear programming, integer programming, and various problems network theory, to name a few. The website seems outdated (last official update was in 2000) and some of the java applets are not working correctly.

  4. OR Tutor: An online website with multiple parts including LP (various methods), transportation problem, network simplex method, branch and bound for BIP and MIP models, three NLP methods, Markov decision processes, and simulation of queueing systems. This website is not interactive but it has discussed its examples with enough detail.

  5. Web-based software for Mixed Integer Programming Applications in Process Systems Engineering: a website dedicated to modeling various problems in process systems engineering by department of chemical engineering at CMU. The user can define new instances for a number of predefined problems and then solve them using GAMS. It's perhaps better suited for advanced undergraduate and graduate students in chemical engineering.

  6. Management Science Support Site: a website maintained by staff of Management Science Laboratory at the Athens University of Economics & Business. It has few sections for interactive learning of LP and IP. The main positive point of the website is that it has provided mutiple links to very useful websites and resources for various methods in OR.

  7. Linear Programming - Foundations and Extensions: a website dedicated to the book of the same name by Robert J. Vanderbei at Princeton University. The website includes Prof. Vanderbei lectures notes along various interactive java-based online exercises and animations for learning various fundamental topics in linear programming.

  8. LEKIN Scheduling System: a semi-interactive software for scheduling problems developed by a group of researchers at NYU Stern lead by Michael Pinedo. It is originally intended to accompany two books on scheduling by Michael Pinedo. It incorporates a variety of dispatching rules and heuristics for various scheduling problems such single machine, parallel machine, flowshop, jobshop, and flexible jobshop scheduling problem. The user is allowed to experiment with final schedules based on various criteria or enter an schedule manually. In addition, LEKIN has a gantt chart feature which provides the user with high quality demonstration of the final schedules. The software is available for free through here.

  9. Sitation - Facility Location Software: a semi-interactive software for solving various facility location problems developed by Mark Daskin for his book entitled "Network and Discrete Location: Models Algorithms and Applications". This software is capable of solving various facility location problems such as p-median, set covering, maximal covering, p-center, and UFLP using branch and bound and Lagrangian relaxation. Since the software allows the user to experiments with parameter setting of its solution methods along displaying solutions and relevant results using various report formats and graphs, it can provide the user with great insight about his problem and the solution methods. Sitation latest version could be obtained from here.

  10. LP Assistant: a semi-interactive java-based software for learning linear programming. The software is supposed to accompany "An Introduction to Linear Programming and Game Theory (3rd Edition)" by Paul R. Thie and G. E. Keough. It allows solving linear programming models using simplex and dual simplex meth, in which the user is required to select the pivots and the software does the rest. A preliminary version is available here.

This answer is marked "community wiki".

answered 10 Nov '11, 03:25

Ehsan's gravatar image

Ehsan ♦
accept rate: 16%

edited 23 Jan '12, 20:30

Florents%20Tselai's gravatar image

Florents Tselai


Similar to LEKIN: LiSA, a library of scheduling algorithms - that also comes with a simple GUI (which, and that's a nifty feature, integrates Brucker's problem complexity database:

(20 Nov '11, 05:01) fbahr ♦

Here's another management science support site developed in AUEB


answered 11 Nov '11, 14:45

Florents%20Tselai's gravatar image

Florents Tselai
accept rate: 7%

A new paper has been recently published on the subject in INFORMS Transaction on Education entitled "The Effectiveness of Using a Web-Based Applet to Teach Concepts of Linear Programming: An Experiment in Active Learning" by Christine T. Kydd. The author has introduced some of available web-based applications for learning linear programming in addition to a new applet she's been using in her courses. The author's comparative study has demonstrated the positive effect of using web-based applets.

I think it's worth checking out for everybody who is interested in the topic. In addition, the applet developed by the author seems decent and user friendly.


answered 01 Feb '12, 03:28

Ehsan's gravatar image

Ehsan ♦
accept rate: 16%

edited 18 Feb '12, 15:54

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Asked: 07 Nov '11, 04:58

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