Sigurdur Olafsson


Associate Professor
Industrial & Manufacturing Systems Engineering


3018 Black Engr
2529 Union Dr
Ames, IA 50011-2030



  • PhD, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Industrial Engineering, 1998
  • MS, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Industrial Engineering, 1996
  • BS, University of Iceland (Reykjavik), Mathematics, 1994

Interest Areas

Dr. Olafsson’s research focuses on three primary areas: discrete optimization, data mining methodology, and data mining of surveillance databases. He is the co-inventor of the Nested Partitions method, a metaheuristic that has been used to solve many large-scale discrete optimization problems. Along with his students, he has developed optimization-based methods for such data mining tasks as data clustering, attribute selection and instance selection. Most recently he has been applying these and other data mining techniques to analyze surveillance databases, including a database of criminal incidents, a database of accidents and illnesses in the mining industry, and a database of outbreaks of foodborne illnesses.


  • J. S. Lee and S.Olafsson. 2013. “A Meta‐learning Approach for Determining the Natural Number of Clusters in Data,” Information Science, 232, 208‐224.
  • R. Yang and S. Olafsson. 2011. “Classification for Predicting Offender Affiliation with Murder Victims,” Expert Systems with Applications, 38(11), 13518-13526.
  • J. Jackman, Z. Guerra de Castillo and S. Olafsson. 2011. “Stochastic Flow Shop Scheduling Model for the Panama Canal,” Journal of the Operational Research Society, 62(1), 69-80.
  • J. S. Lee and S. Olafsson. 2011. “Data Clustering by Minimizing Disconnectivity,” Information Sciences, 181(4), 732-746.
  • A. Kabirian and S. Olafsson. 2011. “Continuous Optimization via Simulation Using Golden Region Search,” European Journal of Operational Research, 208(1), 19-27.
  • S. Olafsson and X. Li. 2010. “Learning Effective New Dispatching Rules from Optimal Scheduling Data,” International Journal of Production Economics, 128(1): 118-126.
  • M. Thakur, S. Olafsson, J.S. Lee, C.R. Hurburgh. 2010. “Data Mining for Recognizing Patterns in Foodborne Disease Outbreaks,” Journal of Food Engineering, 97, 213-227.
  • S. Al-Shihabi and S. Olafsson. 2010. “A Hybrid of Nested Partitions, Binary Ant System and Linear Programming for the Multidimensional Knapsack Problem,” Computers & Operations Research, 37(2), 247-255.
  • J. Yang and S. Olafsson. 2009. “Near Optimal Feature Selection for Large Databases,” Journal of the Operational Research Society, 60, 1045-1055.
  • J. Kim, J. Yang and S. Olafsson. 2009. “An Optimization Approach to Data Clustering,” Journal of the Operational Research Society, 60, 1069-1084.