Pontifex (project)

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This article is about the aircraft fleet scheduling project. For the Roman religious leader, see Pontifex Maximus. For the computer game, see Bridge Builder. For the cryptographic algorithm, see Solitaire (cipher).

PONTIFEX (Planning Of Non-specific Transportation by an Intelligent Fleet EXpert) was a mid-1980s project that introduced a novel approach to complex aircraft fleet scheduling,[1] partially funded by the European Commission's Strategic Programme for R&D in Information Technology.[2]

Since the mathematical problems stemming from nontrivial fleet scheduling easily become computationally unsolvable, the PONTIFEX idea consisted in a seamless merge of algorithms and heuristic knowledge embedded in rules.[3][4] The system, based on domain knowledge collected from airliners Alitalia, KLM, Swissair, and TAP Portugal, was first adopted by Swissair and Alitalia in the late 1980s, then also by the Italian railroad national operator, for their cargo division. It is still in use today (2008).


  1. ^ P. Mertens, V. Borkowski, W. Geis, Betriebliche Expertensystem-Anwendungen, Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1993, p.352
  2. ^ M. Cini, P. Magrassi, "Results and progress of project 2111 Pontifex", European Strategic Programme for R&D in Information Technology, Office and business systems, European Commission DGXIII, Brussels, Belgium, November 1989.
  3. ^ M.Cini, P. Magrassi, "Pontifex: A Knowledge-Based DSS For Routing And Scheduling Problems", Quaderni dell'Istituto per l'Analisi dei Sistemi e l'lnformatica, Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche, Roma, 1990
  4. ^ M.Cini, P. Magrassi, "A Knowledge-Based Decision Support System For Routing And Scheduling", Proceedings of the 3rd International Conference On Expert Systems And The Leading Edge In Production And Operations Management, Hilton Head Island, SC, USA, Karwan Sweigart Publishers, 1989