In a few words

Victor PillacI am a research scientist, software developer, and travel enthusiast. I recently left my job at GoEuro delivering the best online travel experience, to relocate to sunny Melbourne. I hold a Ph.D. in operations research, also known as “the science of the better”. My main expertise resides in modelling complex real-world systems and developing software to assist stakeholders make better decisions. I am interested in combining data science and optimisation to bridge the gap between big data and decisions support systems. [read more]

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What makes a good take home coding test?

When applying for jobs in tech, in particular in startups, you will are almost certain to be asked to complete a coding exercise before even getting to the technical interviews. While there is some debate on whether or not this is good practice, it may be hard to escape them if you don’t have significant open-source contributions to showcase your work.

In this post, I will highlight some of the keys to writing to an answer that will get you to the next stage.
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EURO EJOR Best Paper Award 2015

Our paper “A review of dynamic vehicle routing problems” received the EURO EJOR Best Review Paper Award 2015. It is the most cited EJOR article for the 2013/2014 editions according to scopus.

Full reference:

A review of dynamic vehicle routing problems, V. Pillac, M. Gendreau, C. Guéret, A. L. Medaglia, European Journal of Operational Research, 2013, 225(1), 1-11, doi:10.1016/j.ejor.2012.08.015
[technical report (free)] [download from editor]

Use your phone to set the location of you pictures

Being a geek with an obsessive tendency as well as a photography enthusiast can be challenging when you travel for a while. Even when you are back home, and no longer have to struggle to find a power plug or a wifi hotspot with a decent bandwidth to get your internet fix, you still face a pile of pictures that you would like to sort and classify in a neat structured way. And what better way to tell the story of your trip than to put your photos on a map?

You may be the lucky one who has a GPS enabled camera, if not, read on to learn how to geotag your pictures using an everyday device that spies on you from your pocket: your smartphone.

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Borneo express

Borneo. The name of this island split between three countries immediately evokes images of jungle, white beaches, and adventure. Yet Kota Kinabalu, entry point of Sabah, the Malaysian province north of the island, is far from the laid back tropical city we had imagined. The city seems to have little to offer apart from it’s lively market  and numerous outdoor restaurants that sprawl in front of the resting fishing boats. A short boat trip brings you to a few nearby islands where one can enjoy a cleaner water. We pick Manukan which turns out to be one of the less crowded beaches (which may be due to the entrance fee charged on arrival).

We had thought of climbing Mt Kinabalu, and heard that it was possible to by-pass the travel agencies by going directly to the park entrance and arranging a guide there. Unfortunately, we now only have a week in Borneo which limited our options. On the recommendation of a raw vegan traveller, we decide to head to Ranau, a small town near Mt Kinabalu, surrounded by rice fields and forest,under the majestic protection of the mountain. We enjoy a short walk in Mt Kinabalu park, have our feet thoroughly cleaned by hungry fishes, and wander around the local to discover new fruits and vegetables.

Mt Kinabalu overlooking rice fields

Mt Kinabalu overlooking rice fields

Bags of langsat fruits at the Ranau market

Bags of langsat fruits at the Ranau market

Further east, we join buses of tourists to watch the Orang-Outans being fed in the Sepilok sanctuary. The sanctuary was created to reintroduce Orang-Outans in the wild. After spending their early years in the nursery where they learn to climb trees and feed, the young are released into the forest. Twice daily, a feast of bananas is offered to them on a platform, attracting a handful of monkeys, and hundreds of humans. This simple diet is meant to bore them, creating an incentive to go gather their own food. Hence the fewer Orang-Outans come, the better indicator of success of the program. It also means more leftovers for other opportunistic monkeys and squirrels that clean up the platform once they have left.

Not exactly what we expected in a

Not exactly what we expected in a “wildlife sanctuary”

I leave Borneo feeling that our visit was too short to really see what the island had to offer, and also with the impression that Sabah is not exactly made for independent travelers, especially when on a budget. Most attractions and remote area seem to be only accessible by organized tours, with limited do-it-yourself alternatives.

Looking at Mt Kinabalu