Welcome to Wood 492 – Modelling for Decision Support.

Course syllabus

Instructor:          Dr. Taraneh Sowlati

Contact Info:      I have an open door policy and would be happy to help students outside the classroom. My contact info:

Room: FSC 2931

Telephone: 604-822-6109

E-mail: taraneh.sowlati@ubc.ca

Lectures:         Monday, Wednesday 11:30 – 13:00 (FSC 2964)

Lab:                Friday 11:00 – 13:00 (FSC 1404, 1406)

Teaching Assistant:  Krishna Malladi

Room: FSC 2943, Email: kmalladi@alumni.ubc.ca

Useful books and references:

  • Williams, H.P. Model Building in Mathematical Programming. Fifth Edition. Wiley. 2013. UBC Library ebook.
  • Ramamurthy P., Operations Research, New Age International Publisher, 2007, Available online: http://site.ebrary.com/lib/ubc/detail.action?docID=10367718
  • Dykstra, D.P. Mathematical Programming for Natural Resource Management. McGraw-Hill. 1984.
  • Winston, W.L., Operations Research: Applications and Algorithms, Third Edition, ITP, 1994.

 Calendar Description

Applications of mathematical modeling, optimization, and simulation in forest planning and manufacturing; formulating models and interpreting results for decision support.

Course Objective

The main objective of the course is to introduce the concepts and techniques of mathematical programming and their applications in forestry. The main emphasis is on developing suitable models, using proper tools to solve them, and analyzing and presenting the results for decision making.

 Learning Outcomes:

Upon successful completion of this course, students will have the skills to:

  • Develop and solve mathematical models (linear programming, integer programming, mixed integer programming, and multi-objective programming models) to optimize forest planning and wood manufacturing activities
  • Conduct sensitivity analysis to determine the impact of changes in model’s parameters on the final solution
  • Incorporate uncertainty into decision making models using Monte Carlo Simulation

Course Organisation

There will be a mid-term and a final exam on the material presented in the course, including the readings, and class discussions/presentations. To pass the course, students need to pass the final exam, in case they fail the final exam, their course mark will be the same as their final exam mark. All the lecture notes are available for downloading from http://wood492.forestry.ubc.ca. This will save you most of the note taking, but will require that you take an active part in the classroom dialogue.

Class Participation

In order to succeed in this course, students need to be actively engaged in class discussions and activities, and facilitate the learning of others. Class attendance is mandatory.

 Weekly Lab assignments

The lab section provides practical application of the lecture material to decision support problems.  Students will develop and solve mathematical programming and simulation models to support decision making process.  Lab assignments are normally completed during the lab sessions. Due to space limitation in the computer lab, assignments will be done in groups of two. Lab attendance is required.

Case study and presentations

Students will work in groups and give a presentation during the class on Tuesday. The details and requirements will be handed out to students and explained in the class.

Late submission policy

Please note that when a deadline is set for the submission of lab assignments, you must submit them on or before that deadline or there will be a significant penalty, 30% off!


Class/lab participation 10%
Assignments 25%
Case study and presentation 15%
Mid-term 20%
Final Exam 30%

Tentative schedule


Week Starting Topics Important Notes

Sept. 5


Introduction to the course

–          Course syllabus and expectations

Introduction to operations research and decision support systems

Friday Sept. 9: No lab

Sept. 12


Linear Programming

–          Develop models

–          Solve LP models with 2 variables graphically

–          Use Excel Solver to solve LP models


Sept. 19


Dual Model

Sensitivity Analysis

–          Shadow prices

–          Range of feasibility

–          Range of optimality


Sept. 26


Applications of LP

–          Timber harvest scheduling optimization (Model I)


Oct. 3


Applications of LP

–          Veneer production

Case study presentations

Oct. 10




Case study presentations

Oct. 14: Review before mid-term


Oct. 17


Integer Programming

Accessory Variables


Friday Oct. 21: Mid-term

Oct. 24


Network Models

–          Transportation

–          Assignment

Oct. 24: Guest speaker

Case study presentations


Oct. 31


Network Models

–          Minimum Spanning Tree

–          Shortest Path

–          Maximum Flow

Case study presentations

Nov. 7


Multi-Objective Models

–       Goal programming

Case study presentations

Nov. 14



–       Monte Carlo Simulation and uncertainties in models

Case study presentations

Nov. 21


Guest Speaker/Other models (if time permits)

Nov. 23: Guest speaker

Case study presentations


Nov. 28