“There is a lot to like in this thesis: there is mathematical rigor, intuitive explanations, modeling, conceptual innovation, algorithms and extensive numerical studies.” –
Jelle Goeman, chair of the Van Zwet award jury 2023.
During the VVSOR Annual Meeting on the 23th March 2023, the Hemelrijk Award for best MSc-thesis and Van Zwet Award for best PhD-thesis have been handed out. This year, in 2023, the winners were Fleur Theulen, MSc. and Collin Drent, PhD., respectively. Below we share the jury report of the chair of the jury – Jelle Goeman -, he elaborates on the aspects why Collin’s PhD thesis won the award this year.
Photo credits: Pieter Kroonenberg & Laura Zwep
This year we received a small number of high quality nominations for the van Zwet award. We note, as in previous years that the nominations were predominantly from Mathematical Statistics and Operations Research. We ask the promotors in applied statistics to be less modest and to nominate their excellent theses!
The jury was unanimous in their choice of the winner: Collin Drent, with his thesis “Structured Learning and Decision making for Maintenance”. In short, the thesis deals with systems that need maintenance because they can fail. The question now is what is the optimal repair strategy in order to optimize trade-off between down time due to repairs and down time and other costs due to failures. To optimize this, it is imperative to use real-time information of the current state of the system. Collin Drent in his thesis addresses this need by developing elegant and useful mathematical theory for this problem. This theory, as the title of the thesis says, combines learning and decision making.
The jury found Collins work to be of the highest scientific quality. It addresses a very relevant societal problem. It does so by creative use of a variety of mathematical techniques both from statistics and from decision theory. There is a lot to like in this thesis: there is mathematical rigor, intuitive explanations, modelling, conceptual innovation, algorithms and extensive numerical studies. Moreover, and we find this very important, the thesis is also very well written.
We congratulate Collin on a well-deserved award.