Shipping Domain Knowledge Informed Prediction and Optimization in Port State Control

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)


Maritime transportation is the backbone of global supply chain. To improve maritime safety, protect the marine environment, and set out seafarers’ rights, port state control (PSC) empowers ports to inspect foreign visiting ships to verify them comply with various international conventions. One critical issue faced by the port states is how to optimally allocate the limited inspection resources for inspecting the visiting ships. To address this issue, this study first develops a state-of-the-art XGBoost model to accurately predict ship deficiency number considering ship generic factors, dynamic factors, and inspection historical factors. Particularly, the XGBoost model takes shipping domain knowledge regarding ship flag, recognized organization, and company performance into account to improve model performance and prediction fairness (e.g., for two ships that are different only in their flag performances, the one with a better flag performance should be predicted to have a better condition than the other). Based on the predictions, a PSC officer (PSCO) scheduling model is proposed to help the maritime authorities optimally allocate inspection resources. Considering that a PSCO can inspect at most four ships in a day, we further propose and incorporate the concepts of inspection template and un-dominated inspection template in the optimization models to reduce problem size as well as improve computation efficiency and model flexibility. Numerical experiments show that the proposed PSCO scheduling model with the predictions of XGBoost as the input is more than 20% better than the current inspection scheme at ports regarding the number of deficiencies detected. In addition, the gap between the proposed model and the model under perfect-forecast policy is only about 8% regarding the number of deficiencies detected. Extensive sensitivity experiments show that the proposed PSCO scheduling model has stable performance and is always better than the current model adopted at ports.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)52-78
Number of pages27
JournalTransportation Research Part B: Methodological
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2021


  • Domain knowledge informed artificial intelligence
  • Domain knowledge informed machine learning
  • Inspection template
  • Optimization in port state control (PSC)
  • PSCO scheduling model

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Transportation


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