The Theme Semester on Combinatorial Optimization will consist of five workshops and a NATO Advanced Study Institute on the topic of "Combinatorial Optimization: Methods and Applications". The latter is geared towards young faculty, postdocs and graduate students. Combinatorial optimization deals with optimization problems whose feasible sets are "discrete" subsets of n-dimensional Euclidean space. In practice, the membership of a vector in such a feasible set can be determined in polynomial time, and most combinatorial optimization problems can be modeled as integer linear programming problems. Nowadays combinatorial optimization is one of the most important branches of applied mathematics, and it has been applied to transport scheduling, telecommunications planning, timetabling, VLSI chip design and computational molecular biology.

The Semester will feature series of lectures on the most exciting and timely topics in combinatorial optimization, namely: approximation algorithms and inapproximability, network design and algorithmic game theory, hybrid methods and branching rules, data mining and mathematical programming, and polyhedral computation. Noga Alon (Tel Aviv), Gérard Cornuéjols (Carnegie Mellon), Komei Fukuda (ETH Zürich), Michel Goemans (MIT), Tim Roughgarden (Stanford), Paul Seymour (Princeton), Bruce Shepherd (Bell Labs) and David Williamson (Cornell) are among the many experts who will visit Montréal during the semester. We expect the activities of the semester to foster the collaboration between the CRM and two operations research centers located on the same campus, the Centre de recherche sur les transports (CRT) and the Groupe d'études et de recherche en analyse des décisions (GERAD).