STATS 255 : Optimisation and Data-driven Decision Making


2024 Semester One (1243) (15 POINTS)

Course Prescription

Explores methods for using data to assist in decision making in business and industrial applications. Software packages will be used to solve practical problems. Topics such as linear programming, transportation and assignment models, network algorithms, queues, Markov chains, inventory models, simulation, analytics and visualisation will be considered.

Course Overview

This course covers three aspects of data-driven optimisation and decision-making:

  • linear programming models, including transportation and transshipment models.
  • decision making and data models
  • modelling and simulation
There is an emphasis on the use of software, namely Excel and/or R, throughout the course. We do not assume that you are able to program, but we expect that you will be comfortable using a command-line to run code. We also expect that you are able to manipulate and rearrange algebraic expressions.

The topics covered in this course provide ideal preparation for the following courses that can be taken in the Statistics major:
  • ENGSCI 391: Optimisation in Operations Research
  • STATS 320: Applied Stochastic Modelling

Course Requirements

Prerequisite: ENGSCI 211 or STATS 201 or 208, or a B+ or higher in either MATHS 108 or 120 or 130 or 162 or 199 or STATS 101 or 108, or a concurrent enrolment in either ENGSCI 211 or STATS 201 or 208 Restriction: ENGSCI 255

Capabilities Developed in this Course

Capability 4: Critical Thinking
Capability 5: Solution Seeking
Capability 6: Communication
Graduate Profile: Bachelor of Science

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course, students will be able to:
  1. Define linear or integer programs, using mathematics (including identifying decision variables, constraints, and the objective function) based on a written problem description. (Capability 4, 5 and 6)
  2. Implement optimisation models in Excel, and solve them. (Capability 4 and 5)
  3. Interpret solution and sensitivity analysis output from optimisation models. (Capability 5 and 6)
  4. Model a decision problem (given as a paragraph + some tables) using a decision tree, and carry out calculations. (Capability 4, 5 and 6)
  5. Model problems related to inventory, project management and quality control. (Capability 4 and 5)
  6. Apply probability distributions in the context of simulation of a situation, and in modelling inter-arrival times and service times in simulations of queues. (Capability 4 and 5)
  7. Interpret output from simulation and produce confidence intervals around key statistics. (Capability 4 and 5)
  8. Model process data with control charts and six sigma methods. (Capability 4 and 5)


Assessment Type Percentage Classification
Assignments 30% Individual Coursework
Test 20% Individual Test
Exam 50% Individual Examination
Assessment Type Learning Outcome Addressed
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8

Students must score at least 45% in the final exam to pass the course.


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Key Topics

  • Linear Programming (Weeks 1-4) - covers the formulation of linear programs, both algebraically and in Excel, and interpretation of the solutions. Integer programming models, transportation and transshipment problems are considered.
  • Decision Making and Data Models (Weeks 5-8) -  covers decision trees, models for inventory management, project management and quality control.
  • Modelling and Simulation (Weeks 9-12) - covers modelling random processes in R, with applications to queues, epidemic modelling, inventory management, revenue management and optimisation.

Workload Expectations

This course is a standard 15-point course and students are expected to spend 12.5 hours per week involved in each 15-point course that they are enrolled in.

For this course, a typical weekly workload includes:

  • 3 hours of lectures
  • A 1-hour tutorial
  • 4 hours of reviewing the course content
  • 4.5 hours of work on assignments and/or test preparation

Delivery Mode

Campus Experience

Lectures and tutorials will also be available as recordings.

The activities for the course are scheduled as a standard weekly timetable.

In-person attendance at the test and exam is required. No online version will be available.

Learning Resources

Course materials are made available in a learning and collaboration tool called Canvas which also includes reading lists and lecture recordings (where available).

Please remember that the recording of any class on a personal device requires the permission of the instructor.

Course notes will be available as PDFs on Canvas, for annotation or printing.

Student Feedback

During the course Class Representatives in each class can take feedback to the staff responsible for the course and staff-student consultative committees.

At the end of the course students will be invited to give feedback on the course and teaching through a tool called SET or Qualtrics. The lecturers and course co-ordinators will consider all feedback.

Your feedback helps to improve the course and its delivery for all students.

Further improvements will be made to the Section C notes.

We will be embedding more active engagement during tutorials, where appropriate.

Academic Integrity

The University of Auckland will not tolerate cheating, or assisting others to cheat, and views cheating in coursework as a serious academic offence. The work that a student submits for grading must be the student's own work, reflecting their learning. Where work from other sources is used, it must be properly acknowledged and referenced. This requirement also applies to sources on the internet. A student's assessed work may be reviewed for potential plagiarism or other forms of academic misconduct, using computerised detection mechanisms.

Class Representatives

Class representatives are students tasked with representing student issues to departments, faculties, and the wider university. If you have a complaint about this course, please contact your class rep who will know how to raise it in the right channels. See your departmental noticeboard for contact details for your class reps.


The content and delivery of content in this course are protected by copyright. Material belonging to others may have been used in this course and copied by and solely for the educational purposes of the University under license.

You may copy the course content for the purposes of private study or research, but you may not upload onto any third party site, make a further copy or sell, alter or further reproduce or distribute any part of the course content to another person.

Inclusive Learning

All students are asked to discuss any impairment related requirements privately, face to face and/or in written form with the course coordinator, lecturer or tutor.

Student Disability Services also provides support for students with a wide range of impairments, both visible and invisible, to succeed and excel at the University. For more information and contact details, please visit the Student Disability Services’ website

Special Circumstances

If your ability to complete assessed coursework is affected by illness or other personal circumstances outside of your control, contact a member of teaching staff as soon as possible before the assessment is due.

If your personal circumstances significantly affect your performance, or preparation, for an exam or eligible written test, refer to the University’s aegrotat or compassionate consideration page

This should be done as soon as possible and no later than seven days after the affected test or exam date.

Learning Continuity

In the event of an unexpected disruption, we undertake to maintain the continuity and standard of teaching and learning in all your courses throughout the year. If there are unexpected disruptions the University has contingency plans to ensure that access to your course continues and course assessment continues to meet the principles of the University’s assessment policy. Some adjustments may need to be made in emergencies. You will be kept fully informed by your course co-ordinator/director, and if disruption occurs you should refer to the university website for information about how to proceed.

The delivery mode may change depending on COVID restrictions. Any changes will be communicated through Canvas.

Student Charter and Responsibilities

The Student Charter assumes and acknowledges that students are active participants in the learning process and that they have responsibilities to the institution and the international community of scholars. The University expects that students will act at all times in a way that demonstrates respect for the rights of other students and staff so that the learning environment is both safe and productive. For further information visit Student Charter


Elements of this outline may be subject to change. The latest information about the course will be available for enrolled students in Canvas.

In this course students may be asked to submit coursework assessments digitally. The University reserves the right to conduct scheduled tests and examinations for this course online or through the use of computers or other electronic devices. Where tests or examinations are conducted online remote invigilation arrangements may be used. In exceptional circumstances changes to elements of this course may be necessary at short notice. Students enrolled in this course will be informed of any such changes and the reasons for them, as soon as possible, through Canvas.

Published on 31/10/2023 10:54 a.m.