MIT Sloan Associate Professor to visit Chile to encourage entrepreneurship with new optimization language, JuMP


The Chilean-born Associate Professor was named by former U.S. President Barack Obama as a recipient of the Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) 

CAMBRIDGE, Mass., August 8, 2017Juan Pablo Vielma, Associate Professor of Operations Research and Statistics at MIT Sloan School of Management, will visit Chile between 9-26 of August 2017 to encourage entrepreneurship and promote the use and development of a new open-source modelling language, JuMP, which has been designed to improve business optimization tasks. Chile has a thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem and mature software engineering industry, but many startups are held back by a lack of access to advanced optimization tools that are simple to use. 

JuMP enables managers to easily express complex mathematical optimization problems with a natural notation that mimics what a user would write on paper. Through this convenient and expressive syntax, JuMP allows users to easily access advanced tools that were previously restricted to low-level proprietary interfaces.

According to Professor Vielma, JuMP can spur entrepreneurship by providing startup founders with quick and easy access to advanced optimization tools that usually have steep price tags and learning curves, and hence are limited to expert engineering users, and deep-pocketed organizations. “JuMP gives entrepreneurs access to advanced optimization tools and enables them to deploy advanced algorithms rapidly into a work environment,” he says. 

JuMP was developed by MIT’s Operations Research Center students Iain Dunning, Joey Huchette, and Miles Lubin, who collectively received the INFORMS Computing Society (ICS) Prize for the creation of JuMP. The modelling language’s design leverages advanced features of the Julia programming language (also developed at MIT) to enable users to express a wide variety of optimization problems for use in business contexts. 

The trip builds upon MIT Sloan’s established presence in Santiago through its Latin America Office (MSLAO) led by director Lee Ullmann. The trip also builds upon a strategic bilateral agreement between the Chilean government and the state of Massachusetts in 2011, which spurred the creation of ChileMass, a non-profit organization whose mission is to catalyse innovation opportunities for Chile and Massachusetts.

Part of the reason for the success of JuMP (and Julia) is the support of a volunteer community of open-source developers, of research and educational institutions, and of the for-profit commercial entities that use the language. Given its vibrant academic, technological and entrepreneurial environment, Chile could play an important role in all three areas. The aim of the trip is to facilitate such activities by exploring academic and entrepreneurial collaborations within the Chile-Massachusetts memorandum of understanding and beyond.

Professor Vielma will visit Santiago, Chile to explore academic collaborations with Universidad Adolfo Ibañez, Universidad Católica, Universidad de Chile and other universities.

The creation of JuMP has been partially funded by three generous contributions from MIT: a $20,000 grant from the MIT Sloan Junior Faculty Research Assistance Program; $25,000 in seed funding from MSLAO; and $75,000 as part of an MIT Research Support Committee Award, funded by the NEC Corporation Fund for Research in Computers and Communications.

The trip builds upon a workshop sponsored by MSLAO, which took place in June 2017 at MIT Sloan to bring the core and community developers together to plan for a stable version 1.0 release of JuMP. The workshop featured participants from Belgium, Brazil, Chile, Denmark, New Zealand, the U.K. and the U.S., coming from universities, national labs and industry. The workshop included talks on the design of JuMP and its application, and developer collaboration, brainstorming and coding.

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