University of Washington / College of the Environment /School of Environmental and Forest Sciences

SEFS 540 - Optimization Techniques for Natural Resources

Spring 2017

Instructor: Sándor F. Tóth

Office: 358 Bloedel Hall
Telephone: 206-616-2738

Lectures: 8:50-10:10am MW in Winkenwerder 107; Labs: 8:00-9:50am F in Bloedel 261
Office hours: 2:00-4:00pm, M, Bloedel Hall 358, or by appointment
Instructor URL: http://faculty/

TA: Celine Pastore, E-mail:
TA Office hours: 3:15-5:15pm on Wednesdays and 9-11am on Thursdays in Bloedel 360, or by appointment


This is a 5-credit problem-oriented course where the instructor's research projects serve as vehicles for introducing advanced analytical decision tools that can aid natural resource management. We will focus on spatial optimization problems in conservation, ecosystem management, landscape-level forest planning, conflict resolution and invasive species management. The following mathematical techniques will be covered: linear-, integer- and multi-objective programming, stochastic and combinatorial optimization and Markovian decision processes. The emphasis will be on model building rather than on algorithmic concepts. The students will learn how to select the most appropriate tools for various situations, how to use them, and how to interpret the results that these tools provide.

The target audience of the course includes both graduate and undergraduate students who are interested in applying quantitative skills to environmental problems. Those with strong math or engineering backgrounds will learn how to approach and conceptualize complex, seemingly un-quantifiable but real problems in the area of natural resource management. Those with strong biological, ecological or social science backgrounds will learn how handy mathematical modeling can be in providing answers to some familiar but challenging environmental questions.

For further information on the kinds of problems that are covered in this course, please click here.

To sign up for this course, use the following Schedule Line Number (SLN): 19171 (SEFS 540) or 14203 (ESRM 490B) .