Why are mathematics and optimization of interest to you?
“Optimization is clearly one area of mathematics, which is useful in a practical way.
Mathematical optimization has a long history and roots in solving logistic problems during the second world war.
Today’s computation power and calculation techniques have made it possible to apply optimization in many different industries and in many business decisions.
For optimization specialists it is interesting to convert business targets and real world constraints to mathematical form. There are usually many different ways to do that, but a skillfully built model might perform drastically better.
Modeling is like solving sudoku, which actually is sometimes used as a textbook example of a problem which can be easily solved using mathematical programming.
Mathematics and optimization are interesting because you can apply the same methods, like linear optimization, in different fields like logistics, HR or production planning, to mention a few.“
Has the topic always interested you and how did you end up studying this?
“I ended up studying the topic, because mathematics and physics were the most interesting subjects in school.
I got to know about mathematical optimization only at university, but somehow I’ve ended up involved in activities, where making the best possible decisions is crucial. Optimization is applying mathematics to make better decisions.
I graduated from Aalto University in 2016 (engineering physics and mathematics). I majored in operations research, where mathematical optimization techniques were one core subject.
My thesis is related to game theory, which is modeling decision making in situations where multiple decision makers cooperate or compete with each other. It is the math behind economics.“
What was the most interesting course at the university?
“Hard to pick one course, but especially courses, which were related to computationally challenging problems and data science were interesting, although the topic was not called data science back then, but rather just statistics, machine learning or data analysis.“
What do you do in your own time to switch off and relax?
“For me, the most important way of relaxing is doing sport.
However Corona has limited some sport activities, but not running or orienteering.
I cannot fully escape optimization in my hobbies. Choosing the optimal route is important in orienteering and also while I’m flying a glider. There you need to optimize route and other decisions to achieve the highest speed or longest flight distance.“
What has been something you have taken away with you from piloting that has helped in your career?
“For software development and piloting, it’s important to pay attention to details. Big picture is important, but it is not enough. You need to get details right and avoid errors in both environments to pass unit tests in coding or complete your flight safely in aviation. I avoid multitasking whenever possible. Doing one from start to finish is usually the most efficient and the least error prone way of working.“
So, as one of the newest Weoptians, what has it been like working at Weoptit?
“It is a relaxed atmosphere where things get done, but nothing is made more complicated than it needs to be. Development of personnel is taken seriously in WeOptIt and there are a lot of possibilities to learn new things.“
Do you feel that your work matters?
“Target of optimization is to improve measurable things, so impact is usually quite concrete although software development may be abstract itself. It’s easy to see the meaning of work when you increase sales margins via better pricing, decrease cost of logistics via better routing or improve personnel’s well-being by creating better scheduling.
Optimization is about reducing waste.“
What would a dream project be?
“Professionally speaking the most interesting projects are suitably challenging and where you can find possibilities to learn something new.
Good teams and seeing the benefits for clients are important also.
It’s hard to specify a single industry or topic, but all projects have some interesting elements.”
How do I identify an optimization specialist?
“Probably there is no way to identify an optimization specialist immediately, but you might get stuck in working mode also in this job. You might start to optimize your daily walking routes or time usage.
Board games are the worst for me. I sometimes lose focus on the game, while thinking how I could figure out an optimal strategy.“
What has been that one bit of advice/wisdom that you have carried with you through your life and career?
“One piece of wisdom is that: it often takes the same time to do things well and poorly. That’s an important learning especially, when you are busy and you are tempted to do “quick and dirty” solutions. It’s often possible to adjust scope, but you should not compromise on quality.“
What book are you currently reading?
“Currently I’m reading a book about my grandfather’s father called Isäni Eljas Lounela. I have had that book for a while, but never have had really time to read it. It is interesting to read about the history of ordinary people, not only about wars and most notable people of the time. It is also nice to get some variation for my reading list. “