Professor Paul Harper

Professor Paul Harper

Deputy Head of School, Professor of Operational Research

School of Mathematics

+44 (0)29 2087 6841
M/1.36, 1st Floor, Mathematics Institute, Senghennydd Road, Cardiff, CF24 4AG
Media commentator

My research interests are in stochastic modelling with applications to healthcare.  This includes queueing theory, game theory and simulation methods, mathematical modelling of healthcare systems and the prevention, early detection and treatment of diseases, and data mining techniques.  Author of more than 80 peer-reviewed papers and book chapters, I have been a named investigator on £6M of funded research grants, twice winner of the Cardiff University innovation and Impact prize, founding editor of Health Systems (Taylor and Francis) and Director of Health Modelling Centre Cymru.  I am an elected Fellow of the Learned Society of Wales (FLSW).

Research group

Administrative duties

  • Deputy Head of School
  • Head of the Operational Research Group
  • Director for Impact and Engagement
  • Director, Health Modelling Centre Cymru
  • Member of School Board
  • Member of School Research Committee
  • Member of School Learning and Teaching Committee

Personal website


  • 2015 - 17 : Director of Postgraduate Taught Studies
  • 2013 - : Deputy Head of School (School of Mathematics, Cardiff University)
  • 2011 - : Editor-in-Chief, Health Systems (Palgrave Macmillan)
  • 2011 - : Director of Impact & Engagement, School of Mathematics
  • 2010 - : Director, hmc² (Health Modelling Centre Cymru)
  • 2009 - : Head of the Operational Research Group, Cardiff University
  • 2008 - 12: Cluster leader for Operational Research and Statistics, WIMCS.
  • 2007 - 11: WIMCS Research Chair in Operational Research, Cardiff University
  • 2006 - 07: Senior Lecturer in Operational Research, University of Southampton
  • 2001 - 06: Lecturer in Operational Research, University of Southampton
  • 1997 - 02: Research Fellow, Institute of Modelling for Healthcare, University of Southampton


  • 2005: PG Certificate in Education, University of Southampton
  • 2002: Ph.D. Mathematics, University of Southampton
  • 1996: M.Sc. Operational Research, University of Southampton
  • 1995: B.Sc. Mathematics and Statistics, University of Bath

I teach the following modules:

  • MAT001 – OR Methods
  • MAT003 – Communicating and Research Skills
  • MAT009 – Healthcare Modelling

PhD students


  • Emma Aspland (with Daniel Gartner and Velindre Cancer Centre / KESS 2 funded)
  • Sarie Brice (with Daniel Gartner)
  • Geraint Palmer (with Vincent Knight)
  • Tom Rodwell (with Vince Knight and Cardiff & Vale Univesity Health Board)
  • Mark Tuson (with Daniel Gartner and Aneurin Bevan University Health Board)
  • Emily Williams (with Daniel Gartner and Welsh Blood Service / KESS 2 Funded)


  • Elizabeth Rowse (2015): Robust Optimisation of Operating Theatre Schedules
  • Robert Shone (2014): Optimal Control of Queueing Systems with Multiple Heterogeneous Facilities
  • Angelico Fetta (2014):  Modelling Adolescent Smoking Behaviours with Social Network Analysis
  • Marion Penn (2014): Developing a Multi-Methodological Approach to Hospital Operating Theatre Scheduling
  • Leanne Smith (2013): Modelling Emergency Medical Services
  • Julie Vile (2013): Time-Dependent Stochastic Modelling for Predicting Demand and Scheduling of Emergency Medical Services
  • Joe Viana (2011): The Development of a Combined Simulation Approach in a Sexual Health Context: Combining Discrete Event and System Dynamics Simulation to Form a Composite Model.
  • Shivam Desai (2011): Modelling Social Care Needs of Older People in Hampshire
  • Dileep Da Silva (2011):  Dental Public Health Needs for Sri Lanka.
  • Michael Thorwarth (2011): A Simulation-based Decision Support Model to improve Healthcare Facilities Performance – elaborated on an Irish Emergency Department
  • Evandro Leite (2009): Decision Trees
  • Honora Smith (2008): Locating Sustainable Community Health Facilities.
  • Jennifer Sykes (2007): Healthcare Behavioural Modelling
  • Naomi Powell (2006): Simulation and Optimisation of Healthcare Workforce Needs.

Research interests

  • Queueing theory, game theory and simulation methods
  • Mathematical modelling of healthcare systems
  • Mathematical modelling for the prevention, early detection and treatment of diseases
  • Predictive analytics methods including Machine Learning and Data Mining techniques

Research group

Research impact

The majority of my research has direct impact on healthcare services and public health policy.  My work, and that of colleagues, is helping to transform the efficiency and effectiveness of NHS care delivery through mathematical modelling, resulting in radically improved healthcare systems at policy, commissioning and operational levels.   The underpinning research captures the dynamic and stochastic nature of healthcare processes, which translates into the delivery of user-friendly tools for use by NHS staff themselves to better operate and deploy resources.  Recently funding by Anuerin Bevan University Health Board has led to the establishment of a mathematical modelling unit; the largest of it's kind in the UK between an Operational Research group and the NHS.

Particular research contributions include stochastic models for integrated healthcare resource systems (hospital bed capacities, theatre scheduling and workforce planning), novel research on stochastic facility location problems, multi-level simulation, research at the intersection of game theory and queueing theory, conditional phase-type modelling and combined data mining and simulation methodologies.

I am a founding Editor-in-Chief of Health Systems (Taylor & Francis) and Director of hmc2, a pan-Wales centre bringing together research expertise in mathematical and computational modelling applied to health.  I have won the OR Society's Goodeve Medal for the best paper published in the Journal of the Operational Research Society, and given numerous plenaries and chaired various conferencesincluding OR50 and the 2011 ORAHS International conference (  I am an elected Fellow of the Leaned Society of Wales (FLSW).

Please refer to my personal website for further details including research papers, grant awards, and resources such as videos of my research talks.

  • Named investigator on £6m of funded research grants; author of more than 80 peer-reviewed papers and book chapters.
  • Twice winner of the Cardiff University Innovation and Impact Prize: 2011 (in collaboration with the Office for National Statistics) and 2015 (in collaboration with the Aneurin Bevan University Health Board).
  • Editor-in-Chief of Health Systems (T&F)
  • Winner of Operational Research Society’s Goodeve Medal (2006) for the best paper published in the Journal of the Operational Research Society.
  • Winner of the 2006 University of Southampton Vice-Chancellor’s teaching award in “recognition of outstanding contribution to teaching practice and innovation”.

Areas of expertise

External profiles