2023 3rd International Conference on Applied Mathematics, Modelling and Intelligent Computing (CAMMIC 2023)
Prof. Haibin Zhu


Prof. Haibin Zhu

Nipissing University, Canada

Speech Title: Group Role Assignment with Constraints (GRA+): A New Category of Assignment Problems 


Generalized assignment problems have been investigated for over six decades since Kuhn first proposed them in 1950s, and related algorithms have been applied widely in the industry since then. There is a clear gap between theoretical models of assignment problems and their real-world equivalents. Many engineering problems are still difficult to model into generalized assignment problems. On the other hand, if such engineering problems are modelled with generalized assignment, important information may be lost and this may significantly affect the usefulness of the results. Therefore, assignment problems require more modelling investigations to meet the requirements of real-world applications. Other than these two categories, generalized assignment and quadratic assignment, not many efforts have been put into further investigation theoretically in recent years, and the research results are rare. The reasons might be: 1) commercial optimization software platforms are developed and can solve most engineering problems if they are specified within the problem categories of the platform; 2) the generalized assignment modelling method is too abstract to express complex real-world problems.

Role-Based Collaboration (RBC) and the E-CARGO (Environment – Classes, Agents, Roles, Groups, and Objects) model have been proposed and verified as a promising approach to facilitating complex problem solving. It utilizes roles as underlying mechanisms to support collaboration. It is divided into several phases: role negotiation, role assignment, role execution, and role transfer. Role assignment can be categorized into three phases: agent evaluation, group role assignment, and role transfer. Agent evaluation rates the qualification of an agent for a role. It requires a check on the capabilities, experiences, and credits of agents based on role specifications. Qualifications are the basic requirements for possible role-related activities. It is a fundamental yet difficult problem that requires advanced methodologies, such as information classification, data mining, pattern search, and match. Group role assignment (GRA) initiates a group by assigning roles to its members or agents to achieve its highest performance. Administrators must conduct it by thinking of the issues brought in by the assignment.

In dealing with GRA, there are many constraints we need to consider. These constraints may come from current states of roles, agents, and objects and future dynamic role execution situations, including conflicts, cooperation, limitations, preferences, and feasibility. Solutions to the GRA with constraints (GRA+) problems can be more easily applied to industrial applications.

This talk systematically establishes a new category of assignment problems by reviewing and extending the problems related to GRA from a novel vision. We discuss GRA+ problem instances and provide a generalized formalization of this category of problems, i.e., one highly abstract optimization problem, which is specified the first time in the field. 

Selected References:

[1]    H. Zhu, "Group Role Assignment with Constraints (GRA+): A New Category of Assignment Problems," IEEE Trans. on Systems, Man, and Cybernetics: Systems (In Press), 2022, DOI: 10.1109/TSMC.2022.3199096.

[2]    H. Zhu, E-CARGO and Role-Based Collaboration: Modeling and Solving Problems in the Complex World, Wiley-IEEE Press, to be published, 2021.

[3]   H. Zhu, “Why Did Mr. Trump Oppose Globalization? An E-CARGO Approach,” IEEE Transactions on Computational Social Systems, 2021 (In Press), DOI: 10.1109/TCSS.2021.3077369, avail: https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/document/9439864 .

[4]    B. Huang, H. Zhu, D. Liu, N. Wu, Y. Qiao, and Q. Jiang, “Solving Last-mile Logistics Problem in Spatiotemporal Crowdsourcing via Role Awareness with Adaptive Clustering”, IEEE Trans. on Computational Social Systems, 2021 (In Press), DOI: 10.1109/TCSS.2021.3051299, avail: https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/document/9354439 .

[5]    H. Ma, W. Tang, H. Zhu, and H. Zhang, “Resource Utilization-Aware Collaborative Optimization of IaaS Cloud Service Composition for Data-Intensive Applications,” IEEE Trans. on Systems, Man, and Cybernetics: Systems, vol. 51, no. 2, Feb. 2021, pp. 1322-1333.

[6]    H. Zhu, “Computational Social Simulation with E-CARGO: Comparison between Collectivism and Individualism,” IEEE Trans. on Computational Social Systems, vol. 7, no. 6, Dec. 2020, pp. 1345-1357.

[7]    H. Zhu, “Group Multi-role Assignment with Conflicting Roles and Agents,” IEEE/CAA J. of Automatica Sinica, vol. 7, no. 6, Nov. 2020, pp. 1498-1510.

[8]  H. Zhu, “Agent Categorization with Group Role Assignment with Constraints (GRA+) and Simulated Annealing (SA),” IEEE Trans. on Computational Social Systems, vol. 7, no. 5, Oct. 2020, pp. 1234-1245.

[9]    H. Zhu, “Avoiding Critical Members in a Team by Redundant Assignment,” IEEE Trans. on Systems, Man, and Cybernetics: Systems, vol. 50, no. 7, July 2020, pp. 2729-2740.

[10]  H. Zhu, “Maximizing Group Performance while Minimizing Budget,” IEEE Trans. on Systems, Man, and Cybernetics: Systems, vol. 50, no. 2, Feb. 2020, pp. 633-645.

[11]  D. Liu, B. Huang, and H. Zhu, “Solving the Tree-Structured Task Allocation Problem via Group Multirole Assignment”, IEEE Trans. on Automation Science and Engineering, vol. 17, no. 1, Jan. 2020, pp. 41-55.

[12]  H. Ma, H. Zhu, K. Li, W. Tang. “Collaborative optimization of service composition for data-intensive applications in a hybrid cloud”, IEEE Trans. on Parallel and Distributed Systems, vol. 30, no. 5, May 2019, pp. 1022-1035.

[13]  D. Liu, Y. Yuan, H. Zhu, S. Teng, and C. Huang, “Balance Preferences with Performance in Group Role Assignment”, IEEE Trans. on Cybernetics, vol. 48, no. 6, June 2018, pp. 1800 - 1813.

[14]  H. Zhu, Y. Sheng, X.-Z. Zhou, Y. Zhu, “Group Role Assignment with Cooperation and Conflict Factors”, IEEE Trans. on Systems, Man, and Cybernetics: Systems, vol. 48, no. 6, June 2018, pp. 851 – 863.

[15]  H. Zhu, D. Liu, S. Zhang, S. Teng, and Y. Zhu, “Solving the Group Multi-Role Assignment Problem by Improving the ILOG Approach”, IEEE Trans. on Systems, Man, and Cybernetics: Systems, vol. 47, no. 12, Dec. 2017, pp. 3418-3424.

[16]  H. Zhu, “Avoiding Conflicts by Group Role Assignment”, IEEE Trans. on Systems, Man, and Cybernetics: Systems, vol. 46, no. 4, April 2016, pp. 535-547.

[17]  H. Zhu, M. Hou, C. Wang, and M.C. Zhou, “An Efficient Outpatient Scheduling Approach”, IEEE Trans. on Automation Science and Engineering, vol. 9, no. 4, Oct. 2012, pp. 701-709.

[18]  H. Zhu, M.C. Zhou, and R. Alkins, “Group Role Assignment via a Kuhn-Munkres Algorithm-based Solution”, IEEE Trans. on Systems, Man, and Cybernetics, Part A: Systems and Humans, vol. 42, no. 3,2012, pp. 739-750.

[19]  H. Zhu, M. C. Zhou, and R. Alkins, “Group Role Assignment via a Kuhn-Munkres Algorithm-based Solution,” IEEE Trans. on Systems, Man and Cybernetics, Part A, vol.42, no. 3, 2012, pp. 739-750.

[20]  H. Zhu and M.C. Zhou, “Role-Based Collaboration and its Kernel Mechanisms”, IEEE Trans. on Systems, Man and Cybernetics, Part C, vol. 36, no. 4, pp. 578-589, July 2006.

[21]  H. Zhu, “The Role Mechanism in Collaborative Systems,” Int’l J. of Production Research, vol. 44, no. 1, 2006, pp. 181-193.


Dr. Haibin Zhu is a Full Professor and the Coordinator of the Computer Science Program, the Founding Director of the Collaborative Systems Laboratory, a member of the University Budget Plan committee, Arts and Science Executive Committee, Nipissing University, Canada. He is also an affiliate professor of Concordia Univ. and an adjunct professor of Laurentian Univ., Canada. He received a BSc degree in computer engineering from the Institute of Engineering and Technology, China (1983), and MSc (1988) and PhD (1997) degrees in computer science from the National Univ. of Defense Tech. (NUDT), China. He was the chair of the Department of Computer Science and Mathematics, Nipissing University, Canada (2019-2021), a visiting professor and a special lecturer in the College of Computing Sciences, New Jersey Institute of Technology, USA (1999-2002) and a lecturer, an associate professor and a full professor at NUDT (1988-2000). He has accomplished (published or in press) over 230 research works including 40 IEEE Transactions articles, six books, five book chapters, four journal issues, and four conference proceedings. He is a fellow of I2CICC (International Institute of Cognitive Informatics and Cognitive Computing), a senior member of ACM, a senior member of IEEE, a full member of Sigma Xi, and a life member of CAST-USA (Chinese Association of Science and Technology, USA).

He is serving as a member-at-large of the Board of Governors and a co-chair of the technical committee of Distributed Intelligent Systems of IEEE Systems, Man and Cybernetics (SMC) Society (SMCS), Editor-in-Chief of IEEE SMC Magazine,  Associate Editor (AE) of IEEE Transactions on SMC: Systems, IEEE Transactions on Computational Social Systems, Frontiers of Computer Science, and IEEE Canada Review. He was Associate Vice President (AVP), Systems Science and Engineering (SSE) (2021), IEEE SMCS, a Program (Co-)Chair for many international conferences, and a PC member for 130+ academic conferences.

He is the founding researcher of Role-Based Collaboration and Adaptive Collaboration and the creator of the E-CARGO model. His research monograph E-CARGO and Role-Based Collaboration can be found  https://www.amazon.com/CARGO-Role-Based-Collaboration-Modeling-Problems/dp/1119693063. The accompanying codes can be downloaded from GitHub: https://github.com/haibinnipissing/E-CARGO-Codes. He has offered 10+ keynote and plenary speeches for international conferences and 70+ invited talks internationally. His research has been being sponsored by NSERC, IBM, DNDC, DRDC, and OPIC.

He is the recipient of the best paper award in international collaboration from the 25th Int’l conf. on Computer-Supported Cooperative Work in Design, Hangzhou, China, 2022, the meritorious service award from IEEE SMC Society (2018), the chancellor’s award for excellence in research (2011) and two research achievement awards from Nipissing University (2006, 2012), the IBM Eclipse Innovation Grant Awards (2004, 2005), the Best Paper Award from the 11th ISPE Int’l Conf. on Concurrent Engineering (ISPE/CE2004), the Educator’s Fellowship of OOPSLA’03, a 2nd class National Award for Education Achievement (1997), and three 1st Class Ministerial Research Achievement Awards from China (1997, 1994, and 1991).

His research interests include Collaboration Theory and Applications, Human-Machine Systems, Computational Social Systems, Collective Intelligence, Multi-Agent Systems, Software Engineering, and Distributed Intelligent Systems.