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On May 15th, 2017, David Shmoys hosted a virtual seminar titled "Models and Algorithms for the Operation and Design of Bike-sharing Systems" as part of the Computational Sustainability Virtual Seminars. Shmoys' research focuses on the design and analysis of efficient algorithms for discrete optimization problems, with applications including scheduling, inventory theory, computational biology, and most recently, on stochastic optimization models and algorithms in computational sustainability.
Bike-sharing systems are changing the urban transportation landscape; for example, New York launched the largest bike-sharing system in North America in May 2013, with individual trips expected to exceed 15 million rides for 2017. We have worked with Citibike, using analytics and optimization to change how they manage the system. Huge rush-hour usage imbalances the system; we answer the following two questions: where should bikes be at the start of a day and how can we mitigate the imbalances that develop? We will survey the analytics we have employed for the former question, where we developed an approach based on continuous-time Markov chains combined with integer programming models to compute daily stocking levels for the bikes, as well as methods employed for optimizing the capacity of the stations. For the question of mitigating the imbalances that result, we will describe both heuristic methods and approximation algorithms that guide both mid-rush hour and overnight rebalancing, as well as for the positioning of corrals, which have been one of the most effective means of creating adaptive capacity in the system.