Linear Programming Projects Ideas & Topics For Beginners [2020]

Linear programming projects portray real-life challenges and problem-solving through mathematical techniques. Methods of linear programming apply to a wide range of industrial contexts and problem scenarios. Modern-day businesses utilize LP models to plan the manufacturing process, schedule personnel, maximize office space, ensure timely delivery of goods, optimize shelf space, etc. 

Linear programming is inherent in most statistics and machine learning models. Naturally, this special case of programming has emerged as a favorite among the teaching and learning communities of data science. But what is the reason behind taking a practical approach to understanding this topic? 

The Need for Linear Programming Projects

A purely theoretical course can prove counterproductive in creating engaged learners. While students must know about the technicalities, it is equally essential to explore how the textbook knowledge applies in the real world. Recent reports have pointed out how overemphasis on straitjacket teaching methods is making pupils lose interest in Mathematics and Science.

Here, we should note that these subjects focus on building logical thinking and reasoning capabilities, and hence, they contribute to the overall curriculum. So, how can we incorporate innovative tools in the classroom to improve the situation?

Activity-based learning offers a reliable solution for enhancing student engagement. When students take up group exercises or independent projects to solve actual issues, they can see academic concepts come to life. This assists them with knowledge retention and encourages them to discover new courses of action. 

When educators use examples, they also introduce novices to the basics of management and decision-making. A standard realistic scenario of linear programming would include mentions of things like money, time, people, and space. The aim would be to employ the resources so that the organization can achieve minimum costs and maximum efficiency and profit. Familiarity with these fundamentals is vital in almost every career, be it engineering, the social sciences, or artistic pursuits. 

What is Linear Programming?

Linear programming is a simplification problem that seeks to replace a complicated mathematical expression. A typical case is based on three main factors. 

Firstly, the simplification relationships should follow a straight line. Hence, the term linear. Secondly, all the values need to be subject to constraints, which may be in numerical or in terms or properties. And lastly, the solution has to optimize (i.e., maximize or minimize, depending on the problem) the quantity of a given variable. 

Now that we have broken down LPP to its basic components, let us look at the terminology we use to formulate a problem. 

  • Decision variables: These variables determine the output and express the ultimate solution. For instance, the number of units of different cars manufactured by an automobile company (represented as x units of Car A and y units of Car B).
  • Objective function: It lays down what you want to achieve in a specific problem. For example, increasing profit, reducing lead time, etc. You would generally encounter the use of Z for the total profit function. 
  • Constraints: These are limitations or restrictions posed on the decision variables, such as the production capacity of machines, availability of inputs, etc. 
  • Non-negativity: As a rule, LPP decision variables take non-negative values, meaning that they are always greater than or equal to 0. 

LPP techniques are relevant for data scientists and programmers as well. You can get a significant headstart as a beginner if you know about different operations research procedures like the simplex method, graphical method, R, and OpenSolver. Overall, your task would involve reducing complexity and developing solutions capable of working under most conditions. Here are some topics to stimulate your creativity. 

Linear Programming Project Ideas

1. Profit optimization for business plan

Every business needs financial resources to get things started and sustain over time. Moreover, investors and credit providers usually ask for detailed analyses of profitability. And LPP can be immensely helpful in clearly explaining the viability of a business. 

Let us suppose that you want to make a professional B-plan. First and foremost, you will have to define your problem using different variables, constraints, and the objective function. Then, you will solve the LPP using a suitable method, say a graph. Finally, you will evaluate your results and present your solution to the interested parties.

If you are a tutor, you can offer additional guidance and support by communicating the following details:

  • Constraints (production capacity, the proportion of input requirement, cost of products, etc.)
  • Calculation worksheets
  • Coding examples

Class projects on business plans enable immersive experiences as students get the opportunity to apply their imagination and come up with original business names and logos.

2. Project on supply chain management

This problem relates to warehousing and the transfer of manufactured products. Here, you would need to minimize the cost of transporting goods with respect to the resources (motor vehicles and workforce) available in the storage facility and at every depot.

You can take up a project to showcase the feasibility of linear programming in improving supply chain modeling. Consider an industrial case that determines the best transportation schedule within the given limits and establishes an integrated supply chain.

You can employ sensitivity analysis to demonstrate how small changes in the model data can change the optimal solution. Furthermore, your project can add to the existing body of research while highlighting the major issues in supply chain modeling.

3. On-time delivery example

For delivery services companies (FedEx, Blue Dart, and such), identifying the shortest route to ship packages to their respective destinations forms a core task. This sort of distance optimization saves fuel and time and helps these logistics firms in improving customer experience. 

Linear programming can help choose the specific path if a delivery person has to take six packages in a day from the warehouse (located at point X) to six different destinations (cities, namely L, M, N, O, P, and Q). You will need an objective function and linear inequalities subject to certain constraints.

The process of selecting this track can be termed as Operations Research. To solve the LP, you can use the simplex algorithm in a LINGO or LINDO package, depending on your convenience. And in this way, you will have a delivery model. Further, you can get creative and set the algorithm on an Excel worksheet. 

4. Applications on diet-based or nutritional problems

Several linear programming project ideas incorporate optimization problems into diet plans. Such applications can be related to any of the following purposes:

  • Food aid
  • National food programs
  • Individual-specific dietary guidelines 

As for the constraints, your study can include limits based on nutrition, cost, ecological aspects, or acceptability. You could design an integrated framework covering the domains of nutritional quality, economic feasibility, and environmental sustainability. A linear programming model is an ideal tool for this project as it allows you to satisfy multiple restrictions at once. 

If you are just starting with LP modeling, you can try your hand at a chart with only two constraints (per gram nutrient content and unit costs). Your solution should minimize the cost of the diet and list the optimum quantity of different food items you can have in a day. The plan can be such that you eat at least 300 calories with 75 grams of protein, 65 grams of fat, and 300 grams of carbohydrates. 

Read more: Linear Algebra for Machine Learning: Critical Concepts, Why Learn Before ML

5. Linear programming projects on automobile production

Take the example of a company that has a product mix of four types of cars – for example, luxury, sedan, minivan, and compact vehicle. The manufacturing facilities have a limit on the total annual production capacity. Additionally, the company has to comply with fuel consumption standards under various energy policies and national laws.

The details about the profit margins, market share, and fuel efficiency are available for all the models. Now, imagine a scenario where the top management wants to maximize the profits under these restrictions. It would be tricky to depict a strategy without simplifying the problem.

You can attempt a similar linear programming project based on the secondary data of any automaker. With this study, you can go a step further to analyze the implications of government policies on profitability. It is a unique way of looking at production planning problems that generally revolve around ERP data. 

6. Allocation of space in a University

A study conducted by researchers at Landmark University, Nigeria, applied the optimization principle to allocate classroom space. Based on the data obtained from lecture halls and the committees of examination timetable management, the project sought to maximize the usage of the available classroom space. The result was a framework that reduced overcrowding and utilized the existing seating capacity in the best possible way. 

7. Linear programming in a restaurant setup 

In a restaurant-based project, you can work with the following decision variables:

  • Number of meals per day (say 250 meals, including 100 vegetarian and 150 non-vegetarian meals)
  • Different menu items (for example, cream soup, veg pasta, chicken curry, etc.)

If the management wants to maximize the profit given the constraints on the menu like monetary budget and number of meals, we would require a simplification model. The number of food ingredients and the increase /decrease in meals are linearly related. Therefore, basic algebra applies to meal production in the restaurant kitchen, one of the most critical aspects of running a restaurant business. Cost and time would be some other limitations in such a problem. 

You can use the above example to simulate a tangible eatery and create a plan for earning optimal profit. Alternatively, you can design a tool using the LP and graph approach to minimize the total kitchen preparation time for orders in a realistic setting.

Learn about: Prerequisite for Machine Learning: It’s Not What You Think It Is

8. Marketing applications

Marketing managers have a fixed budget to execute campaigns. Maximum reach, frequency, and exposure quality are a few factors that tell us whether an initiative turned out successful. The availability of media real estate, corporate policy, and contractual requirements can pose restrictions. With these demands, linear programming projects can help them in selecting the right advertising media mix. Nowadays, the options go beyond traditional mass media like newspapers and television. And with the advancements in the digital marketing ecosystem, the need for optimization measures has increased manifold. 

There is a similar example of a choice-mix tool from the financial industry. You can duplicate an investment portfolio creation tool using stock market data from secondary sources. This project would aim to maximize the return, given the budgetary limit and stock/bond prices. 

9. Construction management application

You can develop a decision-making tool that optimizes the selection of the best competitive tender for construction works from a real case study. Project managers in the civil engineering branch can use the linear programming model to control the project cost and time of completion. LP concepts are widely used by construction engineers and managers to back several management objectives and to generate results with minimal computational effort and cost. 

Read more: Business Analytics: Tools, Applications & Benefits

10. Energy industry applications

These applications use linear programming for power system design, spanning conventional electrical systems and renewables like photovoltaics. The effort is to keep costs within a reasonable limit to sustain profits and optimize load matching. In the modern grid and energy industry, LP models help provide a valuable way of matching the load in the shortest distance between electricity generation and its over-time demand. 

Also Read: Machine Learning Project Ideas

Conclusion

With this, we have covered 10 examples of linear programming projects to help you practice and rewire your technical skills. Use these topics as guide maps for your projects and begin the process of hands-on learning!

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