During the last decade, research on metaheuristics in the context of combinatorial optimization has experienced an interesting shift towards the hybridization of metaheuristics with other techniques for optimization. At the same time, the focus of research has changed from being rather algorithm-oriented to being more problem-oriented. The focus is nowadays rather on solving a problem at hand, and not so much about promoting a certain metaheuristic. This has led to an enormously fruitful cross-fertilization of different areas of optimization, algorithmics, mathematical modeling, operations research, statistics, simulation, and other fields. This cross-fertilization has resulted in a multitude of powerful hybrid algorithms that were obtained by combining metaheuristics with mathematical programming, dynamic programming, constraint programming, and lately also with machine learning. Nowadays nearly all high-performance optimization techniques in combinatorial optimization are hybrids. In this talk we provide a short glimpse on some recent developments from this field.
Dr. Christian Blum currently holds the permanent post of a Senior Research Scientist at the Artificial Intelligence Research Institute (IIIA) of the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) in Bellaterra, Spain. Before that, from 2012 to 2016, he was an Ikerbasque Research Professor at the University of the Basque Country in San Sebastian, Spain. Dr. Blum obtained a PhD in Applied Sciences from the Free University of Brussels in 2004 and a Diploma (equivalent to a Masters Degree) in Mathematics from the University of Kaiserslautern, Germany, in 1998. His main research interests are in swarm intelligence techniques for optimization and control, and in the hybridization of metaheuristics with other techniques for large-scale optimization problems arising, for example, in bioinformatics or in transportation. During the last 18 years Dr. Blum has (co-)authored more than 180 publications in international journals, books, and peer-reviewed conference proceedings. In total, his work has currently received around 13.500 citations, and his current H-index is 38 (Google Scholar). Apart from acting as editor for the journal Computers & Operations Research (responsible for heuristics and metaheuristics), he currently is also associate editor for journals such as Engineering Applications of Artificial Intelligence, Theoretical Computer Science and Swarm Intelligence. Moreover, he is on the editorial board of several additional journals. Dr. Blum is frequently invited to give keynote talks, tutorials and seminars. He has given invited keynote talks, for exemple, at conferences such as HM 2019, BBCC 2018, VNS 2017, Matheuristics 2016, BeneLearn 2016, and OPTIMA 2015, just to name the most recent ones. Moreover, Dr. Blum has been very active in the co-organization of scientific events. He is, for example, a co-founder of the interational workshop series on Hybrid Metaheuristics. Another recent example is the International Conference on Swarm Intelligence (ANTS 2020) which he currently organizes in Barcelona. Finally, during his carrer, he has won several research and supervision awards. The most prestigous award he received is the IEEE Transactions on Evolutionary Computation (IEEE TEC) Outstanding Paper Award. Concerning student supervisions, he has received an award as director of the thesis that won the first prize at the "Certamen Arquímedes" (a Spanish national competition). In addition to these academic results, Dr. Blum was involved in the design and in the development of an innovative ride-sharing software that was officially registered as a patent application by the CSIC in September 2019.