Two University of Buffalo industrial engineering students – Kyle Cunningham and Niraj Pandy – developed an algorithm that comes close to matching, and in some cases improving, the schedule the National Football League produces each year. The algorithm minimizes a competitive imbalance by reducing the number of times teams play more-rested opponents coming off a bye week or Thursday night game.

Murat Kurt, assistant professor of industrial and systems engineering at UB, and Mark Karwan, UB professor of operations research, oversaw the students’ project.

The students’ paper, “Alleviating Competitive Imbalances in NFL Schedules: An Integer-Programming Approach,” was selected for presentation at the prestigious 2015 MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference Research Paper Competition. The project also received significant nationwide media attention, including the Associated Press, CBS Dallas-Fort Worth, KTVU-TV in San Francisco, ABC News and the Fresno Bee.