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Learner Reviews & Feedback for Basic Modeling for Discrete Optimization by The University of Melbourne

438 ratings

About the Course

Optimization is a common form of decision making, and is ubiquitous in our society. Its applications range from solving Sudoku puzzles to arranging seating in a wedding banquet. The same technology can schedule planes and their crews, coordinate the production of steel, and organize the transportation of iron ore from the mines to the ports. Good decisions in manpower and material resources management also allow corporations to improve profit by millions of dollars. Similar problems also underpin much of our daily lives and are part of determining daily delivery routes for packages, making school timetables, and delivering power to our homes. Despite their fundamental importance, all of these problems are a nightmare to solve using traditional undergraduate computer science methods. This course is intended for students interested in tackling all facets of optimization applications. You will learn an entirely new way to think about solving these challenging problems by stating the problem in a state-of-the-art high level modeling language, and letting library constraint solving software do the rest. This will allow you to unlock the power of industrial solving technologies, which have been perfected over decades by hundreds of PhD researchers. With access to this advanced technology, problems that are considered inconceivable to solve before will suddenly become easy. Watch the course promotional video here:

Top reviews


Nov 7, 2020

Excellent course! I learned a lot. Although the assignments were sometimes hard to fathom, and its online nature mean getting hints was difficult, there's enough there to help get through.


Jul 26, 2019

Thank you so much for the course. I had to fight my coding habits, programming CP models is quite different from the traditional programming I'm, and it could even be more fun!

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1 - 25 of 106 Reviews for Basic Modeling for Discrete Optimization

By Jens K

Nov 19, 2021

I'm happy to rate this course 5 stars. It's challenging, and designed learner-friendly: The abstract concept of constraint optimization is framed by a story that provides real-world context, helping memorization when taking in the problem. The workshops are exhaustive, and the assignments are staggered to lead the learner towards trying again, increasing the score with increasing difficulty. MiniZinc is a good learning platform, regardless of whether or not you'll be actually using it. Out of the 20 or so data science courses I've taken on Coursera over the years, this one ranks top.

By Pablo H

Aug 7, 2019

This is an amazing introductory course to discrete optimization. All the learning materials are very high quality, and teachers are awesome. All concepts are introduced with very practical examples, and the assignments are incrementally difficult. You will learn MiniZinc that it is a declarative programming for discrete optimisation.

It is really enjoyable thanks to the background story. I love workshop videos where teachers solved a problem similar to the assignment before you tried. Definitely, I would recommend this course to anyone who wants to introduce in this area.

By Boris O

Jul 27, 2019

Thank you so much for the course. I had to fight my coding habits, programming CP models is quite different from the traditional programming I'm, and it could even be more fun!

By Richard M

Mar 13, 2022

First of all, coming from a functional programming background I really like Minizinc, it was natural and intuitive to me. Most of the assignments took me only a couple of hours.

Secondly, the class was recorded years ago, and the videos have desync'd a bit from the language now. It's still very workable but you should know.

Most of my difficulties in completing the assignments and workshops were in understanding the language in the problem statement. Sometimes it seemed like Hong Kong and Australian English might be a little bit different then american english, or maybe it's on purpose. I'm not sure. These were minor though, and eventually I figured it out each time, although twice I did need to search the forums for clarity.

It's obvious they put a lot of work in to make it more polished than the average class, with the Three Kingdoms theme especially. It was a great class and didn't waste my time much. I can do actual things with a solver now. I rate it 9/10 Yellow Turbans. Highly recommended.

By Bijoy T

Mar 30, 2020

This course is an excellent choice for anyone who is either new or partly familiar with optimization problems. The breadth of problems covered in the course is really helpful in understanding some of the structures behind many optimization problems - assignment, matching, sequencing etc. The style of the course is very engaging as well. Using analogies from a story instead of the usual production planning/ blending/factory materials examples etc makes each problem understandable. I'm so glad I signed up for this course and look forward to the next in this series!

By Jaye H

Jan 6, 2019

This course was amazing! Far more interesting, entertaining, and educational than I was expecting to find. There's a trailer for this course, which indicates how well-produced it is and how much effort has been put in to make this more than just dry lecture material. The course-creators have done an amazing job with this one; if you are a beginner with any interest in optimization or constraint programming then this is the course for you.

By Pieter v W

Nov 28, 2022

Thank you very much for making this course available. The effort that must have been put into developing the material shines through. One down and two to go. Engaging course on modeling problems in combinatorial optimization. Each week has a challenging modeling assignment. Watching the solvers converge faster as I optimized my models was really satisfying. Looking forward to the challenges to come in the next course.

By Carlos V M

Feb 12, 2017

"Basic Modeling for Discrete Optimiation" is an excellent course for anyone interested in optimization models, improving their problem-solving skills and have a nice challenge.

The explanations and examples are fantastic and all these complemented with the utilization of MiniZinc, which make the course so much natural in comparison to other optimization tools.

Highly Recommended 5/5.

By Phillip M

Dec 28, 2020

I am very thankful for every one making an effort to provide such great content to us learners. I had no clue about operations research and slowly I am getting ideas how to improve my professional life und bring data to use I never about before.

Take care dear Liu Bei Team. I am already hyped for the next course!

By Jose M

May 2, 2020

This is a great course. Pair programming by the instructors at the end of each week to solve problems is a very helpful way to learn. I really enjoyed the fabled-based learning. I'm definitely enrolling into the advanced course!


Apr 14, 2017

Excellent content. The instructors are very thorough in their explainations. The only fault I see is that there isn't many students doing the course, and such it is hard to get help, especially if your schedule is tight and you can only do online courses on Saturday and Sunday. Looking forward to taking the Advance course though.

By Kota M

Jan 14, 2019

Very unique and interesting course. Taught well and easy to understand step by step.

I wish the class covers more "real-world" like assignments. All examples and problem sets are described in terms of Chinese history. It was difficult to imagine what I can do with these techniques.

By Reinhard

Jun 17, 2020

Very interesting course. The lecturers and their staff did a great job.

Despite its name and description the course can actually be seen as a tutorial to the minizinc language. For me this is exactly what I wanted. I expected to gain more familiarity with minizinc and to learn some guiding principles to design a "good" model. My expectations have been satisfied.

In my opinion the lack of "real world problems" is no disadvantage. The background story generated enough (not unnecessarily huge) problems for learning the important concepts.

By Muhammet İ K

Mar 22, 2022

This was a challenging and beneficial course for me. I wanted to take this optimization course since I am a PhD candidate who have been working on matmematical models since my master's degree. I exploited ilog CPLEX when i was writing my master's thesis. When i was learning about iLog CPLEX i came across the terminology "Constraint Programming" and this drew my attention then. After that, I wanted to learn more about it and I found this course here on Coursera. Thanks for the contribution, I hope I will get a free tshirt as well :)

By Clyde W

Mar 7, 2020

Challenging optimization puzzle with interesting background story setting. This course provides us some basic knowledge about discrete optimization and the usage of MiniZinc Modeling Language. However mentors focus too much on the modeling process, the program sometimes has a different behavior from our expect. How to locate the potential bug and to fix them, I though, is also important to us. Overall, this is really a good course, suitable for the one without much background knowledge. Recommend!

By Nikola K

Apr 14, 2020

It's was a challenging course for me, but I enjoyed it very much! The format with an interesting story, a lecture with a solution and the workshop at the end of every week are quite informative. I had trouble interpreting the assignment text of the third week, but after getting some tips from the instructors, I managed to pass it. I am looking forward to applying the knowledge in the real world and will follow the advance course next. Thank you!

By Larry B

Apr 15, 2023

This course is an excellent introduction to the MiniZinc modeling language. I find myself confident in understanding a file written in MiniZinc, as well as how to model a certain set of problems with it. I hope to learn much more in the next course.

The underlying story of the Chinese Army is a bit too silly for such a serious topic. Maybe I'm reading too much into it, though.

By Alexander P

Jan 6, 2020

Very good introduction into combinatorial optimization problems and constraint programming. This course does not teach how to develop algorithms. Instead, you learn how to formally describe the problem using a declarative language and apply a solver to obtain a solution.

By Arnaud L R

Dec 4, 2018

This course is very well done. The story gives a fun context to the exercices. The exercices allows one to really start to understand how important modeling is and how to do it, they are so well calibrated that I wonder if they were generated by a solver :-)

By Infant J

Aug 13, 2020

very very good. for someone used to traditional way of solving problems using programming languages, this was an eye opener. I am very much interested in learning more about optimisation problems. I hope there are more courses coming in this field.

By Stefano N

Mar 11, 2017

Excellent course. The high level modeling language that is presented is very powerful and relatively simple to use. Maybe a couple of more lecture specifically dedicated to the modeling languange itself would allow easier kick-in to the course.

By Jason H

May 10, 2019

An excellent course, very well explained and a nice touch with the story and animations. The workshops and assignments were fun and challengining. It was amazing to see the difference in efficiency given by different approaches.

By Thiago O P

Jan 21, 2017

Amazing course, amazing material and amazing lessons. For everyone interested in Discrete Optimization MiniZinc is a must know technology and this course does an amazing introduction with lots of different applications.

By Jan W L

Jul 10, 2020

This course leads you through optimization challenges of increasing difficulty. It is very well thought out and the workshops and presentations are very good. Assistance via the forum is prompt and of high quality.