Managing a Secret Project

Time, Date, Venue

20th April 2011 11.00-12.30

University College London

1st floor Exec-ed room, Engineering Front Building
("Malet place" in Google maps)


We consider the problem of scheduling a project when there is an adversary from whom you want to conceal the project’s progress.  Interfering with the progress by the adversary is called interdiction.   Interdiction may involve hiring away key employees, campaigning for a change in zoning laws, etc. In this paper we take the perspective of a project manager with an adversary.  The project manager seeks to limit the adversary’s opportunity to interdict, and, therefore, tries to keep the adversary “in the dark” as long as possible while completing the project on time.  In the context of a leader-follower game, we formulate and analyze a new form of project management problem for secret projects where the project manager uses a combination of deception, task scheduling, and crashing to minimize the time between the adversary’s awareness and reaction and the project’s completion.  We formulate a novel mixed-integer linear program and determine characteristics of optimal schedules.  Using a detailed example of nuclear weapons development we illustrate the interconnectedness of deception, task scheduling, and crashing and the resulting influence on adversary behavior.  This talk is based on a paper written with Edieal Pinker and Joseph Szmerekovsky.


Professor Tilson’s research interests are in supply chain management, stochastic scheduling and health care operations. Her teaching interests are in production and operations management, management science and business statistics. Previously, she taught operations management at the Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University. She has 18 years of industrial experience as a software engineer and project manager in telecommunications, medical instrumentation, supply chain software and financial industries. She has published articles in the European Journal of Operations Research, Mathematical Social Sciences, International Journal of Revenue Managementand the Production and Operations Management Journal.