PLATFORMS: Orchestrate runs on the RS/6000-based IBM SP2 platform running AIX 4.2.1 and PSSP 2.2. Also runs on the Sun SMP servers.
PROBLEM SOLVED: On any given day United's yield-management system controls more than 4000 daily departures--approximately 1.4 million flights. United's old leg- based system, though very sophisticated, had limitations in terms of flexibility and dynamic, rapid response to market changes. These limitations could be eliminated by an itinerary-based demand forecasting system which forecasts passenger flows by their exact path of travel, (for example, Frankfurt to Chicago to Des Moines). This would allow the airline to optimize its entire flight network at once by tracking each of these itineraries as opposed to one flight leg at a time, resulting in additional annual revenues for United of over $50 million. The challenge lay in overcoming the exponential number of combinations that an itinerary-based forecast system results in due to connecting traffic--over 100 million itineraries are forecasted to flow over the 1.4 million flight legs. This problem is inherently parallel and could be easily solved by partitioning the data by market O&D (origin and destination of an itinerary), since forecasting passenger demand from Frankfurt to Chicago is independent of demand between Frankfurt and Des Moines.
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