UC Davis Shares R&D Magazine Top 100 Innovation Award
Professor David Woodruff teams with researchers from Sandia National Labs and Purdue University on open-source software for business, science and engineering

A powerful and flexible open-source software package developed by a team that includes UC Davis Graduate School of Management Professor David Woodruff was selected as one of the 100 winners of the 2016 R&D 100 Awards.

R&D Magazine’s R&D 100 Awards have more than a 50-year history of recognizing excellence in innovation, earning the nickname the “Oscars of Innovation.” The international competition recognizes the 100 most technologically significant products introduced into the marketplace over the past year. The awards were presented November 6, 2016.

Woodruff joined researchers from Sandia National Labs and Purdue University to develop Pyomo, a Python-based open-source software package with a diverse set of optimization capabilities for formulating, solving and analyzing models to support complex decision making in real-world applications.

“What makes Pyomo so valuable is that researchers, scientists, engineers and managers can get their models turned into computational results,” explained Woodruff, an expert in operations research, who said the software is both an expression of his work and that he uses in his research.

“Our software takes models and gives them to other software that solves the model and gives the solution back and makes it available for analysis,” Woodruff said. “It’s also a platform to use to develop ideas and get them out to a growing community of developers who are making important contributions.”

Pyomo (or Python Optimization Modeling Objects) has been used to design sensor networks to protect water distribution systems, schedule Department of Defense satellite sensors, plan and schedule production, design cyber defense strategies that obfuscate defensive actions, control power grid operations, and—by the National Nuclear Security Administration—to plan operations for nuclear weapon life extension programs.

Optimization—finding a solution that minimizes (or maximizes) a function over a set of possible alternatives—is widely used in business, science and engineering to control costs, identify worst-case scenarios and analyze trade-offs.

Woodruff collaborated on Pyomo v4.1 with William Hart, Jean-Paul Watson and John Siirola at Sandia National Labs and Carl Laird of Purdue University. Since then the core developer team also includes Gabe Hackebeil at the University of Michigan and Bethany Nicholson at Sandia as well as users who contribute to the open-source project.

Woodruff also has co-authored a new book, Pyomo: Optimization Modeling in Python, due out this winter. He has used the Pyomo platform in an MBA elective course, and the UC Davis Graduate School of Management plans to include Pyomo in the curriculum of a new Master of Science in Business Analytics program that will launch next fall.