- open source for the operations research community -
The Computational Infrastructure for Operations Research (COIN-OR**, or simply COIN) project is an initiative to spur the development of open-source software for the operations research community.
Why open source? The Open Source Initiative explains it well. When people can read, redistribute, and modify the source code, software evolves. People improve it, people adapt it, people fix bugs. The results of open-source development have been remarkable. Community-based efforts to develop software under open-source licenses have produced high-quality, high-performance code---code on which much of the Internet is run.
Why for OR? Consider the following scenario. You read about an optimization algorithm in the literature and you get an idea on how to improve it. Today, testing your new idea typically requires re-implementing (and re-debugging and re-testing) the original algorithm. Often, clever implementation details aren't published. It can be difficult to replicate reported performance. Now imagine the scenario if the original algorithm was publicly available in a community repository. Weeks of re-implementing would no longer be required. You would simply check out a copy of it for yourself and modify it. Imagine the productivity gains from software reuse!
Our goal is to create for mathematical software what the open literature is for mathematical theory.
We are building an open-source community for operations research software in order to speed development and deployment of models, algorithms, and cutting-edge computational research, as well as provide a forum for peer review of software similar to that provided by archival journals for theoretical research. This is a lofty goal, but we believe it's a worthwhile one. We have ideas, but we don't have all the answers. Only the community of users and contributors can define what is needed to make it a reality. For further information, please see the FAQs page, as well as the COIN-OR resources page.
** COIN-OR was formerly known as the "Common Optimization Interface for OR". The name (but not the acronym) was changed to better reflect that COIN-OR is intended to host all types of OR software, not just "optimization" software.