Center for Operations Research and Economics (CORE), Université Catholique de Louvain

CORE (the Center for Operations Research and Econometrics), an interdisciplinary research center, was created in 1966 in Leuven, Belgium by Jacques Drèze (Economics) in collaboration with Anton Barten (Econometrics) and Guy de Ghellinck (Operations Research). In 1977, CORE moved to Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium, where the new French-speaking Université catholique de Louvain (UCL) was under construction since 1971.

 In operations research (OR), CORE is most well-known for its work in optimization- specifically, convex optimization and energy optimization, integer programming, and more recently operations management.

Integer Programming

In 1975 George Nemhauser (Cornell, Georgia Tech) was  appointed CORE Research Director for two years. This launched the area/era of integer programming at CORE, with one-year visitors including Bob Bland, Jack Edmonds, Tom Magnanti, Bob Jeroslow, Bill Pulleyblank, Mike Todd and their students Mike Ball, Gerard Cornuejols and Rick Giles among others. In the following decades, there was a stream of visitors including Jon Lee (twice), Imre Barany, Gerard Cornuejols (again), Michel Conforti, Manfred Padberg, Martin Skutella, Oktay Gunluk and Santanu Dey.

The textbook Integer and Combinatorial Optimization, co-authored by Nemhauser and Laurence Wolsey (at CORE since 1971) is considered a classic. It was awarded the 1988 Lanchester Prize. The authors were also awarded the John von Neumann Theory prize in 2012. The more elementary book of Wolsey, Integer Programming, based on his class notes, was published in 1998. Wolsey also received the Dantzig prize, awarded jointly by SIAM and the Mathematical Programming Society, in 2012.

Etienne Loute (Université Saint-Louis - Bruxelles) joined the team in 1981. His research focuses on algorithmic and implementation issues, and on management and engineering applications of mathematical programming.

 In 1989, Yves Pochet joined CORE with an appointment in the School of Management. The book Production Planning and Mixed Integer Programming (2006), coauthored by Pochet and Wolsey, is the result of their collaboration.

Convex Optimization

In 1993, the arrival of Yurii Nesterov from the Russian Academy of Sciences put CORE on the forefront of convex optimization. He was later joined, both at CORE and in the Faculty of Engineering, by François Glineur in 2002. Well-known visitors include Mike Todd, Kurt Anstreicher (twice) and Jean-Louis Goffin.

Nesterov’s 2004 book, Introductory Lectures on Convex Optimization: A Basic Course is a must for students in the area. He received the Dantzig prize in 2000 and was awarded the John von Neumann Theory prize in 2009.

Energy Optimization

Yves Smeers arrived at CORE in 1972, was shortly appointed to the Engineering Faculty, and began his research on the modeling of electricity and other energy-related problems. Many of his former PhD students now work for major electricity providers. He became an INFORMS fellow in 2012 for developing theory for predicting the behavior of energy markets, and for contributions to formulating energy policies, including electricity market design in the European Union. He was joined at CORE by Anthony Papavasiliou in 2012, who was appointed to the ENGIE chair.

Operations Management

In 2008, two members of the operations management group, Philippe Chevalier and Per Agrell of LSM (Louvain School of Management), moved to CORE. They were joined by Mathieu Van Vyve in 2011. Their research interests include supply chain management, stochastic models of call centers, hospital management, data envelopment analysis, etc.

Other Connections

Jean-Philippe Vial was the first OR PhD at CORE. He was appointed in the Engineering school in 1970 and stayed at CORE until 1986. He worked in the area of continuous optimization, with main interests in interior point methods and the fundamental problems of linear programming.

Dominique Peeters and Isabelle Thomas of the School of Geography joined CORE in 1995 and 2008 respectively.  They broadened the operations research expertise of CORE to the geographical dimension.

T.L Magnanti was appointed Docteur Honoris Causa in the School of Management (1998)

M.X. Goemans was a professor at CORE and in the Engineering School from 1997 to 1999. He was appointed Docteur Honoris Causa in the School of Engineering in 2016.

G.L Nemhauser spent the years 1969-70, 1975-77 and 1983-84 at CORE. He was appointed Docteur Honoris Causa in the School of Engineering in 2016.

Maurice Queyranne spent two years as research director of CORE from 2014 to 2016. Along with Y. Nesterov, he was awarded the EURO Gold Medal in 2017.


CORE has always benefitted from the vital support of the Université catholique de Louvain. Activities at CORE are supported by research projects and contracts. These projects are financed by several institutions including the Belgian Federal Government, the Belgian French Community, Belgian Public Institutions, and European and private partners. CORE also hosts research chairs providing financial support for researchers, teaching, training, and outreach activities.

Compiled by: Laurence Wolsey, Henry Fabienne, Anthony Papavasiliou

Acknowledgements to: Philippe Chevalier, Henry Tulkens

Edited by: Bismark Singh, Linus Schrage, Mark Eisner

Links and References

Nemhauser GL (1991) Mathematical Programming Cornell and CORE: The Super Seventies.  History of Mathematical Programming: A Collection of Personal Reminiscences, Lentra JK, AHG Rinnooy Kan and A Schriver, eds.  pp 19-31  North-Holland pp. 114-118

Associated Historic Individuals

Edmonds, Jack
Nemhauser, George
Todd, Michael J.
Wolsey, Laurence A.