Could machine learning and operations research lift each other up?

Is deep learning really going to be able to do everything?

Opinions on deep learning’s true potential vary. Geoffrey Hinton, awarded for pioneering deep learning, is not entirely unbiased, but others, including Hinton’s deep learning collaborator Yoshua Bengio, are looking to infuse deep learning with elements of a domain still under the radar: operations research, or an analytical method of problem-solving and decision-making used in the management of organizations.

Machine learning and its deep learning variety are practically household names now. There is a lot of hype around deep learning, as well as a growing number of applications using it. However, its limitations are also becoming better understood. Presumably, that’s the reason Bengio turned his attention to operations research.

In 2020, Bengio and his collaborators surveyed recent attempts, both from the machine learning and operations research communities, to leverage machine learning to solve combinatorial optimization problems. They advocate for pushing further the integration of machine learning and combinatorial optimization and detail a methodology.

Until now, however, there was no publicly visible operations research renaissance to speak of and commercial applications remain few compared to machine learning.

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