Description and Scopes

The aim of master program is to provide students with a broad expertise in mathematical optimization and related topics, including game theory, optimal control, calculus of variations, etc. Many of our Alumni started a PhD thesis (academic or industrial) after following our program, others are hired as mathematical engineer in the R&D department of a company.

This program requires a strong background in mathematics, but computer scientists and economists also participate in the training of the students. The following topics are covered :

  • Optimal control and dynamic programming, both deterministic and stochastic ;
  • Game theory and its applications (economics, learning) ;
  • Calculus of variations, at the interface of optimization and PDEs ;
  • Stochastic optimization ;
  • Operation research (in collaboration with the MPRO program) ;
  • Advanced optimization algorithms.

Board : Q. Mérigot, Univ. Paris-Sud (Director) ; P. Carpentier, ENSTA ; S. Gaubert, INRIA/Polytechnique ; J.-C. Pesquet, CentraleSupélec
Language : All courses proposed by our program are given in English (but courses by partner programs might be in French).
Venue : Most of the courses are held in the campus of Polytechnique-ENSTA (Palaiseau), and at Université Paris-Sud (Orsay).

Information for 2020/21 students

 Structure of the studies

Courses start in early September and finish early-April. A research internship lasting at least 3 months is required, and the duration can go up to 6 months. The first two weeks of september are devoted to optional training courses, granting no credits : Functional Analysis (M. Léautaud, U. Paris-Sud), Basic Optimization (R. Rodiac, U. Paris-Sud), Probability (C. Graham, Polytechnique). The students are expected to validate 30 credits from basic courses (September-November), advanced courses (November-January) and from a few selected courses from partner programs. Nb : the seminars run through the whole year, but can only be validated for one term.

First term (September-January, 30 ECTS)

Basic courses (mid-september to mid-november)
Optimal Control of ODEs F. Bonnans and L. Pfeiffer (Inria/Polytechnique) 5 ECTS Basic
Introduction to Operational Research and Combinatorics X. Allamigeon (Inria/Polytechnique), C. Gicquel (U. Paris-Saclay) 5 ECTS Basic
Dynamical Programming M. Akian (Inria/Polytechnique) and J.-P. Chancelier (ENPC) 5 ECTS Basic
Game theory B. Ziliotto (CNRS) 5 ECTS Basic
Convex analysis and optimization Q. Mérigot (U. Paris-Saclay) and J.C. Pesquet (CentraleSupélec 5 ECTS Basic
Advanced courses (mid-november to mid-january)
Advanced Continuous Optimization I J.-C. Gilbert (Inria) 5 ECTS Advanced
Calculus of Variations J.-F. Babadjian (U. Paris-Saclay) 5 ECTS Advanced
Derivative-Free Optimization A. Auger (Inria/Paris-Saclay), and L. Dumas (U. Versailles) 5 ECTS Advanced
Stochastic Optimization P. Carpentier (ENSTA), V. Leclère (ENPC) 5 ECTS Advanced
Advanced game theory and applications S. Lasaulce (CNRS/CentraleSupélec) 5 ECTS Advanced
Zero-sum dynamic games S. Gaubert (Inria/Polytechnique) 5 ECTS Advanced
Mutualized courses
Complexity theory O. Hudry (Télécom ParisTech) 3 ECTS From MPRO
Optimization in graphs C. Picouleau (CNAM), C. Bentz (CNAM) 5 ECTS From MPRO
Mathematical programming S. Elloumi (ENSTA), A. Faye (ENSIIE), A. Parmentier (ENPC/CERMICS) 5 ECTS From MPRO
Elliptic partial differential equations J.-F. Babadjian (U. Paris-Sud) 5 ECTS From AMS
Sequential Learning, Sequential Optimization G. Stoltz (HEC) 4 ECTS From Stat-ML
Seminars 2 ECTS

Second term (February-August, 30 ECTS)

Students are expected to validate 2 specialized courses or one selected external course. In addition, we validate credits for

  • Seminars : attending research and applied seminars on the different sides of mathematical optimization throughout the year, and writing a short report.
  • Invited course given by a prominent researcher of the field, followed by students but also by researchers.
  • Internship : In addition, students must do an internship or research project, either in an academic department or in industry. This should last between 3 and 6 months, usually between April and August. Requirements include a research report and an oral defense (usually done in the first half of September, but defenses can be arranged in July, if needed).
Second term courses
Optimal Transport L. Chizat (CNRS/U-Paris-Saclay) and L. Nenna (U. Paris-Saclay) 3 ECTS Specialized
Geometric control D. Prandi (CNRS/U. Paris-Sud) 3 ECTS Specialized
Optimal Control of PDEs F.Bonnans (Inria) 3 ECTS Specialized
Dynamics of information and communication in games T. Tomala (HEC) 3 ECTS Specialized
Advanced Continuous Optimization II J.-C. Gilbert (INRIA) 3ECTS Specialized
Optimization and Statistics F. Bach, INRIA 3 ECTS From Stat-ML
Seminars 2 ECTS
French as a foreign language 2 ECTS
Internship 21 ECTS

 Admission and scholarships

Admission to this master program is based on previous academic results, through transcripts and recommandation letters. The typical prerequisites to be admitted to the master program include 4 years of studies in mathematics and/or engineering schools with strong mathematical background.

To apply , please visit the Paris-Saclay platform devoted to the master in Mathematics and Applications.

Foreign students

European students can enroll in the same way as French students do. Students from outside Europe may need a visa and have to take care of their immigration issues as soon as possible. Pay attention that students coming from a list of countries need to pass through Campus France in order to prepare their visa application, and this may require to start the procedure way in advance.


A number of scholarships are available for excellent students wishing to attend this master program. Warning : admission to the master program and obtention of a scholarship are two different, and independent issues. Being admitted to the program does not imply that you will receive a scholarship.

  • FMJH : Students can apply to the scholarships of Fondation Hadamard.
  • IDEX Paris-Saclay : Université Paris-Saclay also offers master scholarships as well. The procedure is the following : the selection committee of the Optimization program will propose a few candidates to an IDEX scholarship. If this happens to you, you will be asked to complete your application and ask for some recommendation letters.