Paper highlights expanding the optimal transport tool


Professor Chen at the NASA Kennedy Space Center

The Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM) has awarded the 2023 SIAM Activity Group on Control and Systems Theory Best SICON Paper Prize to Yongxin Chen and co-authors Isabel Haasler, Axel Ringh, and Johan Karlsson for their paper, ''Multimarginal Optimal Transport with a Tree-Structured Cost and the Schrödinger Bridge Problem.”

The paper is on the optimal transport problem that seeks to find a transport plan that minimizes the cost of moving the mass of one distribution to another distribution. The algorithm expands the traditional two-party optimal transport problem framework to a new multi-party distribution expression. The paper addresses a class of multi-marginal transport problems whose cost functions have certain structures.

“We developed an efficient algorithm to solve a very general class of problems in multi-marginal optimal transport. It is a very useful tool that can be used in different application domains such as multi-target tracking and formation control of UAV swarms, and possibly some applications we haven’t even thought of yet. Many other researchers may find this tool interesting to apply in their area,” Chen explained.

The algorithm tool can also be applied to operation research to match supply and demand. This can be formulated as a linear programming problem that tries to solve the issue of minimizing the transportation costs to optimally move products from locations to locations.

For instance, this algorithm can be used by a farmer who grows peaches to transport peaches to factories, warehouses, and ultimately grocery stores for sale. The farmer wants to minimize costs, so they can use the algorithm to select the least expensive option for transporting their products.

In July, Chen will travel to Philadelphia to the SIAM Conference on Control and Applications to officially receive the award.


About SIAM:
SIAM is an international community of over 14,000 members that supports the development of applied mathematical and computational methodologies needed in various application areas. The prize recognizes noteworthy papers published in the SIAM Journal on Control and Optimization every two years. SICON is one of the most prestigious journals in the systems and control community.

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