Monday, May 07, 2007

The Similarity of Sourcing Transport and Kidneys

Last week I posted about the the algorithm that killed Jeeves, the tongue in cheek (or foot in mouth depending how you look at it) billboard series by ask.com.

Today's Pittsburgh Post Gazette features the work of Tuomas Sundholm, a computer scientist professor at Carnegie Mellon. Sundholm, in addition to being a former Finnish windsurfing champion, is the founder of Combinenet. Combinet is a niche competitor of Ariba that uses algorithms to optimize the solution of network sourcing problems, the classic case of which is transportation where many suppliers can potentially serve many destinations with varied degrees of efficiency. (They've been a landing spot for many ex-FreeMarketeers and publish Combinenotes if you're interested.)

Sundholm, not content to dabble in windsurfing and trucking, is now setting his sites on using algorithms to source kidney transplants by matching pairs of mis-matched buyers and suppliers...I mean patients and donors. Often an individual patient has a willing but incompatible donor, by using an optimization algorithm, Sundholm hopes to match patient/donor pairs to create networks of efficient matches, helping to alleviate the imbalance between the need for transplants and the supply of available kidneys.

Apparently he's got a pretty good Texas Hold 'Em simulation too.

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