Answers to Frequently Asked Questions for ACO students

I enrolled as an ACO student. What's next?
See the ACO Program Description and read the instructions below.

When is the comprehensive examination offered and how do I sign up?
Normally, you will receive an e-mail from the ACO Director stating the date of the exam and asking you to sign up if you wish to take the examination. You are always welcome to e-mail the ACO Director with any questions you may have. This page gives more information.

How do I find an advisor?
There is no formula for this. Please contact the ACO Director for help.

How do I select a committee for the defense of a research proposal?
Suggest three or more faculty who are willing to serve on your committee. Make your suggestion by e-mail to the ACO Director, who will either approve, add another member(s), or will start consultations with you and other faculty as to a suitable composition of your committee. The composition of the committee should be decided at least two weeks prior to the defense.

What do I need to do prior to the defense of a reseach proposal?
First, you need an advisor. Then you need to study and do some research to figure out what to propose. When you are ready, you need to form your committee as described above, and you need to send your written proposal to each committee member and the ACO Director at least two weeks prior to the scheduled defense. At the defense, you need to remind each committee member to fill out this form.

How do I obtain approval for the selection of my minor?
Please e-mail the ACO Director the theme of your minor, and the following for each course constituting the minor:
-department, course number, name of course
-number of credit hours
-name of instructor
-semester when taken
-grade received
Upon obtaining approval from the ACO Director you need to file some paperwork with the graduate office in your home unit.

What do I need to do to be admitted to candidacy?
You need to satisfy all requirements, as described in the ACO Program Description, except for the minor. To get an approval from the ACO Director, please e-mail the following form depending on your home unit: mathematics, computing, ISyE. If you matriculated prior to August 2011, you may use these: mathematics, computing, ISyE. After you obtain approval from the ACO Director you will need to file an Institute form with the graduate office in your home unit.

How do I select my thesis committee and a reader?
Please consult with your advisor and e-mail your suggestions to the ACO Director. If your proposed reader is a co-author on any of the work in the thesis, then please include a detailed justification.

What do I need to do prior to my thesis defense?
You need to have a committee and a reader approved at least one month prior to the defense. The thesis must be publicly available (see below) for at least one month prior to the defense. Please keep in mind that the reader's report must be available to the committee and the ACO Director prior to the defense.

How do I make my thesis "publicly available", as required by the ACO program?
Send a pdf file to the ACO Director, along with an ASCII file containing information about your defense, formatted in the same way as the recent dissertation announcements posted on the ACO web pages. Place a physical copy of your thesis in each of the School of Mathematics lounge (Skiles 236), the ARC lounge (Klaus 2222) and the ISyE PhD students' lounge. When initially providing this information you do not need to have the exact time and location for the defense. If you don't, then please provide the information as soon as it becomes available.

What do I need to do after my defense?
Make sure you turn in the thesis and all the required forms on time.

How is the new course "Theory of linear inequalities" related to Optimization I?
This course replaced Optimization I as a required course for ACO students. Students who entered in Summer 2007 or earlier may use Optimization I; all others must take Theory of Linear Inequalities.

Who must take Advanced Combinatorial Optimization, and who can take Optimization II? What will the corresponding problem on the comprehensive examination be like?
Students who enter in Summer 2008 or later must take Advanced Combinatorial Optimization. All other students may take either course. For the Fall 2008 and Spring 2009 sittings of the comprehensive examination the Combinatorial Optimization question will be written so that it can be answered on the basis of ISyE 7661 Theory of Linear Inequalities.

My webpage is not linked to from the ACO student page.
Send e-mail to Ms. Annette Rohrs (rohrs at with the URL to your webpage.

Do the degree requirements depend on the home department of the student?
Yes, but only in a very limited way. The only difference is that each department specifies a small number of required courses that students with home in that department must take. The requirements are listed here.

How long does it take to obtain a Ph.D. in ACO?
There is no minimum number of years specified. A student can graduate as soon as he or she satisfies the degree requirements. Normally we would like students to take no more than five years. Some take longer, and some take less. As of March 2008 the average time to degree in ACO was 4.7 years.

How can I apply for a waiver from the requirement to take one of the required ACO courses?
Send e-mail to the ACO Director specifying the course, reasons for requesting the waiver and all supporting documentation, such as transcript from a different university showing that you have taken an equivalent course elsewhere and the grade you obtained, detailed catalog description of the course, and a webpage for the course. For courses that are not listed as PhD level courses please provide sample exams. Please note that passing the Comprehensive Examination does not constitute grounds for such a waiver.

How do I apply for partial funding to attend a conference?
Please e-mail the ACO Director and state the dates, name and URL for the conference you will be attending, and a brief justification. State clearly whether you are giving a talk, and what kind of talk (invited, contributed, selected by a program committee,...). Also include estimated expenses, both a total, and by category (airfare, ground transportation, lodging, meals, conference fee, and any additional expenses, if applicable), and how much you expect to receive from other sources. Please see below for a guideline on expenses. Please note that prior to your trip ACO will usually commit to cover only a fraction of your expenses. You are expected to raise funds from other sources, such as the conference you are attending, your home unit, your home college, the student government, your advisor or your collaborator(s). If after the trip you end up short of funds, you may request additional support from ACO. If you do, you will need to account for all expenses and all support you received for the trip.

What travel expenses can be reimbursed?
The budget is limited, and so only essential expenses can be reimbursed. Those normally include advanced purchase economy airfare, early bird student rate registration fees (including a conference banquet, if applicable), a shared hotel room, ground transportation at destination (but not in Atlanta), and a small amount to cover meals. If there are choices it is assumed that you select the most economical one, unless it causes substantial delays or inconvenience. These are general guidelines, but exceptions will be considered. For instance, if you make a bona fide effort but fail to find a suitable roommate, the hotel will be covered in full. Should you encounter unexpected delays (e.g. weather-related) resulting in additional expenses, those will be covered. If you have an opportunity to join senior researchers for an (occasional) expensive dinner, do not hesitate to go; it will be covered.

I am an ACO student and I am unable to register for a required ACO course because it is full. What should I do?
Please waitlist for the course. Information about waitlisting is available on the Registrar's webpage. If waitlisting for the course is not enabled, then please notify the ACO Director. You are guaranteed to get in. If two days before the end of registration you still do not receive permission to enroll, then please notify the ACO Director.

I am an ACO student and I am unable to register for a required ACO course because it is restricted to certain majors that do not include ACO. What should I do?
Please try to resolve this with the staff of the department offering the course. If unsuccessful, please contact the ACO Director and report what the staff people told you.