The National Football League Chooses Gurobi

March 4, 2014

The NFL Drafts the Gurobi Optimizer

As the National Football League turns its attention to planning its 2014-15 season, it has chosen the Gurobi Optimizer to help it solve one of the largest, hardest, and most closely watched scheduling problems in existence.


Trillions and trillions of possible schedules

“People don’t fully appreciate the complexity of the problem,” says Michael North, senior director of broadcast planning and scheduling for the NFL. “When you take into account the teams, games, stadiums, possible game days, the length of the season, and all of the other factors that go into decision-making, the number of combinations is enormous. Imagine adding two hundred zeroes onto a trillion; that’s still well short of the total number of possible NFL schedules each year. Time pressure is also a major issue; we have just under three months each year to complete this hugely complex task.”

It would take centuries for a team of data scientists to manually compare each possibility and find an optimal solution for a single season. The only practical solution is to use a mathematical solver, a tool that is designed to comb through a massive volume of alternatives. The NFL has selected the Gurobi optimizer to intelligently and efficiently help narrow down the number of choices to a manageable handful.


The Right Partner for Now And the Future

“The team at Gurobi not only makes a high-quality solver, but they have also shown very strong interest in our problem and are already providing amazing support,” said Mr. North. “In addition, their cutting-edge work makes us confident they will be the right choice for years to come.”

For the 2014-15 planning season, the NFL will use Gurobi Optimizer’s parallel computing capabilities to run on roughly 800 processor cores.  Gurobi plans to use the experience gained from computing this year’s schedule to further enhance its parallel computing capabilities, in order to help ensure that the NFL will be able to effectively exploit whatever computing resources it needs as the complexity of the schedule grows in the future.

Dr. Robert Bixby, president of Gurobi Optimization, is passionate about continuing to meet the needs of his clients. “Not every problem is as large or hard as the NFL’s. But every company can benefit from choosing a great solver with great support that will evolve as the optimization challenges get harder. We’re very happy the NFL has chosen Gurobi, and we look forward to working with them for years to come.”


About Gurobi Optimization, Inc.

Gurobi ( is in the business of helping companies solve their hardest problems. In addition to providing the best optimization solver, the company is known for its outstanding support and no-surprises pricing. The Gurobi Optimizer is a state-of-the-art solver for linear programming (LP), quadratic programming (QP), quadratically constrained programming (QCP), mixed-integer linear programming (MILP), mixed-integer quadratic programming (MIQP), and mixed-integer quadratically constrained programming (MIQCP). Gurobi was designed from the ground up to exploit modern architectures and multi-core processors, using the most advanced implementations of the latest algorithms. Founded in 2008, Gurobi Optimization is based in Houston, TX (+1 713 871 9341).