Operations Research

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  • tips for filling out a statistically sound bracket

    Punk Rock Operations Research
    Laura McLay
    16 Mar 2015 | 6:29 am
    Go Badgers!! Here are a few things I do to fill out my bracket using analytics. 1. Let’s start with what not to do. I usually don’t put a whole lot of weight on a team’s record because strength of schedule matters. Likewise, I don’t put a whole lot of weight on bad ranking tools like RPI that do not do a good job of taking strength of schedule into account. 2. Instead of records, use sophisticated ranking tools. The seeding committee using some of these ranking tools to select the seeds, so the seeds themselves reflect strength of schedule and implicitly rank teams.
  • Congrats to Recipients of the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring (PAESMEM) from Obama

    RENeW
    27 Mar 2015 | 3:29 pm
    I heard today the wonderful news that one of my UMass Amherst colleagues, Professor Sandra Petersen, is one of the fourteen recipients of the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring (PAESMEM), which was announced by President Obama at the White House.A few years back I had served on  the committee making the selections.According to the press release issued by the National Science Foundation:PAESMEM recognizes outstanding efforts of mentors in encouraging the next generation of innovators and developing a science and engineering workforce that…
  • A toast to Occam’s razor; Accuracy vs Interpretability

    OR at Work
    10 Mar 2015 | 4:09 am
    A question that I get asked a lot these days is when selecting a predictive model how to make the trade-off between model accuracy and model interpretability. Reason for this is that methods like neural nets and random forests are becoming more popular in predictive analytics. They tend to generate more accurate predictions than traditional statistical methods like a logistic regression but are much harder to interpret. Some practitioners, following Occam’s razor principle, prefer simple methods over complex ones in supporting their customers. And I agree, most non mathematically trained…
  • The 3 Main Formats for Standard Operating Procedures

    TightShip
    duncan
    6 Mar 2015 | 1:57 am
    If you’re just getting into setting up processes then it’s worth knowing the different types of process documentation available to you. We’ll base the examples on getting into and starting a car, an example that most people are familiar with. The checklist This is the most straight forwards approach to an SOP. You can either create a simple checklist or multi-step checklist. Simple checklist example Unlock the car Open the driver door and take a seat behind wheel Adjust the seat so that you can see adequately Adjust the side & rear view mirrors … Multi-step…
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    Punk Rock Operations Research

  • tips for filling out a statistically sound bracket

    Laura McLay
    16 Mar 2015 | 6:29 am
    Go Badgers!! Here are a few things I do to fill out my bracket using analytics. 1. Let’s start with what not to do. I usually don’t put a whole lot of weight on a team’s record because strength of schedule matters. Likewise, I don’t put a whole lot of weight on bad ranking tools like RPI that do not do a good job of taking strength of schedule into account. 2. Instead of records, use sophisticated ranking tools. The seeding committee using some of these ranking tools to select the seeds, so the seeds themselves reflect strength of schedule and implicitly rank teams.
  • operations research improves school choice in Boston

    Laura McLay
    9 Mar 2015 | 12:02 pm
    Many cities allow families to choose elementary schools to address growing inequities in school instruction and performance. School choice lets families give a rank ordering of their preferred schools, and a lottery ultimately assigns students to schools. The result is that many students have to travel a long way to school, crazy bus schedules, and students on the same block who do not know each other because they go to different schools. Peng Shi at MIT (with advisor Itai Ashlagi) won the 2013 Doing Good with Good OR Award held by INFORMS with his project entitled “Guiding school…
  • land O links

    Laura McLay
    27 Feb 2015 | 10:35 am
    Here are a few links for your weekend reading: I’ve used the Monty Hall Problem in class. I didn’t realize agreeing on the correct solution was so controversial. Leonard Nimoy’s portrayal of Spock “in many ways co-created, helped define geek/nerd personality and interests for millions of future geeks” So true. Sports analytics is great and all that, but there is a serious lack of data in women’s sports. Five class Atari games that totally stump google’s artificial intelligence algorithm (like Asteroids!) The math behind getting all that damn snow…
  • be a satisficer or use the secretary problem to find love!

    Laura McLay
    13 Feb 2015 | 6:50 am
    I was surprised to read that a study recommends using a satisficing strategy to find a mate [Link to article, Michigan State press release] The researchers studied the evolution of risk aversion and discovered that it is in the human nature to go for the safe bet when their stakes are high. For instance whether or not mate. This human nature is traced back to the earliest period of their evolution. The study is computational (i.e., not a psychological study) and involves simulation that mimics the degree and range of risk-taking in human behavior. It suggests that we are satisficers, not…
  • snowblowing is NP-complete

    Laura McLay
    9 Feb 2015 | 6:42 am
    The recent winter storm left a lot of snow on my driveway. A lot. My driveway is the perfectly place for huge snowdrifts to form. A tweet of my shoveling resulted in the discovery of The Snowblower Problem  by Esther M. Arkin, Michael A. Bender, Joseph S. B. Mitchell, and Valentin Polishchuk (HT @fbahr) Snow piles next to my driveway from shoveling verify it's not my imagination, snow drifts really do pile up there. pic.twitter.com/Rvz1ECKGle — Laura McLay (@lauramclay) February 1, 2015 The Snowblower Problem (SBP) answers the following question: How does one optimally use a…
 
  • add this feed to my.Alltop

    RENeW

  • Congrats to Recipients of the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring (PAESMEM) from Obama

    27 Mar 2015 | 3:29 pm
    I heard today the wonderful news that one of my UMass Amherst colleagues, Professor Sandra Petersen, is one of the fourteen recipients of the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring (PAESMEM), which was announced by President Obama at the White House.A few years back I had served on  the committee making the selections.According to the press release issued by the National Science Foundation:PAESMEM recognizes outstanding efforts of mentors in encouraging the next generation of innovators and developing a science and engineering workforce that…
  • Mr. Jeff Meyer, CEO of Red Cross Blood Services for MA and CT at the Isenberg School

    25 Mar 2015 | 5:15 pm
    Bringing expert speakers to share their practical know-how and experiences is fabulous for students' education!Today we had the honor and privilege of hosting Mr. Jeff Meyer, CEO of Blood Services for the Red Cross for MA and CT, in my Humanitarian Logistics and Healthcare class at the Isenberg School of Management.He was fabulous. First some background: Jeff received his undergrad degree at Babson and his MBA from UCLA's Anderson School of Management, where he focused on (bravo) operations management. How can you not love a speaker who comes in and starts talking about linear programming…
  • Why the Germanwings Plane Crash Seems So Close to Home

    24 Mar 2015 | 12:26 pm
    The shocking news of the Germanwings plane (flight 9525) crash today over France in the Alps on a flight from Barcelona to Dusseldorf with 150 lives lost is resonating far and wide.This airplane disaster feels very close to home to me.Just last Thursday I was flying back from Berlin where I spoke at the DPG scientific conference and had flown there from Boston Logan the Saturday before via British Airways. On the latter flight I was seated next to a prep school (Pingrey)  group which was en route to Barcelona. There was also a school group on the Germanwings flight (Germanwings is owned…
  • Join Us for an Academic Career Panel at the Isenberg School of Management

    22 Mar 2015 | 8:40 am
    Spring break is almost over and snow is still gracing the landscape of Amherst, Massachusetts!There are many exciting events and activities that await us once all the students return and classes resume tomorrow.There will be several events organized by the UMass INFORMS Student Chapter with the first upcoming one taking place on April 3, 2015.I am delighted that, under the leadership of the chapter President, Michael Prokle, we will be hosting that day an Academic Career Panel: Application Process and Job Expectations. Coming back to the Isenberg School will be 2 of our alums, Dr. Amir H.
  • Photos from the Great DPG Conference in Berlin

    20 Mar 2015 | 5:59 am
    I made it back from the DPG Conference in  Berlin, Germany late last night via Heathrow to Boston Logan. The flights on British Airways were terrific as was the service and the dinner of chicken curry with chocolate mousse for dessert. I blogged several times about this great conference which had an attendance of 6,000 and I especially enjoyed the sessions organized by the Physics of Socio-Economic Systems group.Below I have posted some photos of the speakers and the ambience as well as some sights nearby that I thoroughly enjoyed.I'd like to thank the organizers for inviting me to speak…
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    OR at Work

  • A toast to Occam’s razor; Accuracy vs Interpretability

    10 Mar 2015 | 4:09 am
    A question that I get asked a lot these days is when selecting a predictive model how to make the trade-off between model accuracy and model interpretability. Reason for this is that methods like neural nets and random forests are becoming more popular in predictive analytics. They tend to generate more accurate predictions than traditional statistical methods like a logistic regression but are much harder to interpret. Some practitioners, following Occam’s razor principle, prefer simple methods over complex ones in supporting their customers. And I agree, most non mathematically trained…
  • Is Big Data Objective, Truthful and Credible?

    18 Jan 2015 | 8:34 am
    In the past few years the attention for big data has grown enormously. Both business and science are focused on the use of large datasets to find answers to previously unsolvable questions. In the size of the data there seems to hide some kind of magic, which will answer any question that can be imagined. As former Wired editor-in-chief Chris Anderson puts it: “with enough data, the numbers speak for themselves.” As if massive data sets and some predictive analytics always will reflect the objective truth. But can big data really deliver on that promise? Is big data objective,…
  • The Age of Algorithms started on a diet

    8 Dec 2014 | 12:45 am
    With the exponential growth of interest in data analytics, either big or small, the attention for the use of algorithms has risen strongly as well. An algorithm is nothing more than a step-by-step procedure for a calculation.  That is also what makes it so powerful. Algorithms make our lives easier. Recommendations engines single out the product we have been looking for based on our previous purchases and those of buyers similar to us. The NESTthermostat programs itself and continually adapts to our changing life. Facebookselects the news items that are of interest to us, based on what…
  • Let the data do the talking

    22 Nov 2014 | 9:05 am
    Although the principles of scientific management from Frederick Taylor have long become obsolete, many parts of the theory are still important for organisations today. When was the last time you were involved in a project concerned with efficiency improvement, the elimination of waste or the identification of best practices?  These are just a few topics from scientific management that are still part of industrial engineering and everyday management decision making. Key for the success of these kinds of projects is to have (or obtain) an in depth understanding of the work processes that…
  • “That which is measured, improves”

    26 Oct 2014 | 10:34 am
    Some people attribute the above law to Karl Pearson, a famous statistician and founder of mathematical statistics. Others attribute it to Peter Drucker, a well-known management consultant. The source of the above law is however not very relevant. The fact that most people believe it to be true is one of the fundamentals of modern decision making and a driving force behind the increasing use of analytical and optimisation methods to improve organisational performance.  Without measurement it is difficult to assess an organisation’s performance, set measurable objectives and makes…
 
  • add this feed to my.Alltop

    TightShip

  • The 3 Main Formats for Standard Operating Procedures

    duncan
    6 Mar 2015 | 1:57 am
    If you’re just getting into setting up processes then it’s worth knowing the different types of process documentation available to you. We’ll base the examples on getting into and starting a car, an example that most people are familiar with. The checklist This is the most straight forwards approach to an SOP. You can either create a simple checklist or multi-step checklist. Simple checklist example Unlock the car Open the driver door and take a seat behind wheel Adjust the seat so that you can see adequately Adjust the side & rear view mirrors … Multi-step…
  • How to Bring Industrial Scale to Growing Factories with Tim McLean

    duncan
    10 Feb 2015 | 2:09 pm
    Tim started working with lean in the 80’s. After 18 years working in manufacturing helping improve efficiency and profitability in a wide range of factories he started TXM, to help growing small & medium sized businesses reach their full potential. http://www.tightship.io/wp-admin/post.php?post=1051&action=editI talked to Tim about the challenges that growing factories face and some of the companies he has worked with. During the interview we also talked about his new book Grow Your Factory, Grow Your Profits: Lean for Small and Medium-Sized Manufacturing Enterprises, which…
  • Systematic 400% Y-o-Y Growth with Emi Gal of Brainient

    duncan
    3 Feb 2015 | 1:44 am
    After starting a software development agency in Bucharest Emi started Brainient an interactive video advertising company. In the last 5 years they’ve attracted $2,7m in funding and have been consistently growing 400% Year-On-Year. We talked with Emi about how they’ve managed to keep things running smoothly, despite having multiple offices and doubling their headcount in the 18-24 months. During the interview we talked about OKR which is a management and goal setting methodology first used at Intel. Here’s a link to an intro on OKR. Interview Audio only…
  • Stop confusing: Accountability vs. Responsibility vs. Authority!

    duncan
    29 Jan 2015 | 12:15 am
    Within a business context these three terms are almost always confused, interchanged and usually poorly understood. In a recent interview with Verne Harnish we talked through this in some detail. What some other ‘experts’ say There are plenty of examples which conflict with each other and that I believe are completely incorrect and in a lot of cases the definitions totally conflict with themselves: Paul Gillard, PhD & Rachel Radwinsky, PhD here think to be accountable is to be held culpable for your actions, even that “If you are responsible for something, you are also…
  • Making your customer choose you first with Jeremy Miller

    duncan
    27 Jan 2015 | 8:08 am
    Working in his family business in 2004 Jeremy Miller found himself faced with a problem: Declining revenue despite increased sales activity. As a sales person his natural reaction was to pick up the phone and start dialling. When that didn’t work he turned to marketing and branding. Just 9 years later he was able to sell the business and embarked on a 10 year study of what makes a ‘Sticky Brand’. I talked to Jeremy about how some companies he profiled managed to overcome challenging markets and how execution was tied in. His new book ‘Sticky Branding: 12.5 Principles…
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