Operations Research

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  • HR Analytics: Breaking through the wall in HR measurement

    OR at Work
    31 Aug 2015 | 5:34 am
    Data and analytics are key to solving all kinds of business problems. Already, many organisations are using data and analytics to gain insights on their performance and use mathematical models to find viable directions for improvement while keeping track of the gains of this fact based way of decision making. Organisations apply analytics to all kinds of challenges in business areas like Operations, Customer Services and Marketing & Sales. The business area that seems to lag behind in using these advanced methods is Human Resources (HR). Of course a lot of HR related data is being…
  • Co-Hosting Disaster Management Expert from Europe @UMassAmherst

    RENeW
    31 Aug 2015 | 1:46 pm
    September 2015 is National Preparedness Month and, propitiously, the first speaker of the year in our great UMass Amherst INFORMS Speaker series will be an expert on emergency preparedness and disaster management from Europe! His name is Dr. George M. Karagiannis from the University of Crete. I met George last summer at the Dynamics of Disasters conference that  I co-organized with Professors Pardalos and Kotisireas and his talk was fabulous. When he told me hat he would be coming to Boston in September to speak at the coastal disasters conference  I had to figure out a way of…
  • Complete Enumeration Arguments Deemed Harmful…

    Michael Trick's Operations Research Blog
    Michael Trick
    21 Aug 2015 | 12:25 pm
    … or “The Traveling Salesman Problem is Not That Hard”. When I talk to people about what I do for a living, I often face blank stares (or, worse, rapidly retreating backs) when I describe problems like the Traveling Salesman Problem. Me: “Well, suppose the dots on this napkin represent cities, and you want to find the shortest route that visit them. How could you do it?” Them: Quick scribble through the dots. “There! So you spend the day drawing lines through dots?” Me: “No, no! Suppose there are 1000 cities. Then…. well, there are…
  • waiting is torture, but it’s not so bad if there are mirrors or trees

    Punk Rock Operations Research
    Laura Albert McLay
    21 Aug 2015 | 8:33 am
    Operations research is the discipline of making better decisions. We have to solve the right problem to better inform decisions, and sometimes solving the right problem doesn’t involve math. One of my favorite stories about solving the right problem comes from MIT Professor Dick  Larson (Dr. Queue!). He summarized his story in an article in Slate about queuing theory [Link]: Midcentury New York featured a rush-hour crisis—not out on the roads, but inside office tower lobbies. There weren’t enough elevators to handle the peak crowds. Complaints were mounting. “One solution…
  • First New England Security Day at UMass Amherst

    RENeW
    2 Sep 2015 | 2:08 pm
    On September 17, 2015, the first New England Security Day (NESD) will take place at UMass Amherst.It will be a full day event and will take place in the Computer Science building from 8:50AM until 5PM with a free lunch but registration is required. You can come for part of the day since some may be teaching or taking classes.The website is here.The keynote speaker will be Jeremy Epstein of the National Science Foundation, who will speak at 9AM.The confirmed speakers are from major research institutions in the northeast, including Rutgers, Stevens Institute of Technology. SUNY Stony Brook,…
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    Michael Trick's Operations Research Blog

  • Complete Enumeration Arguments Deemed Harmful…

    Michael Trick
    21 Aug 2015 | 12:25 pm
    … or “The Traveling Salesman Problem is Not That Hard”. When I talk to people about what I do for a living, I often face blank stares (or, worse, rapidly retreating backs) when I describe problems like the Traveling Salesman Problem. Me: “Well, suppose the dots on this napkin represent cities, and you want to find the shortest route that visit them. How could you do it?” Them: Quick scribble through the dots. “There! So you spend the day drawing lines through dots?” Me: “No, no! Suppose there are 1000 cities. Then…. well, there are…
  • State of Operations Research Blogging

    Michael Trick
    19 Jul 2015 | 10:04 am
    It has been almost a year since I had a blog entry here.  Not that I don’t have a lot to say!  I am using twitter more, and I do have ideas for blog entries in cases where 140 characters is not enough.  But there is limited time. But I think something more fundamental is at work.  What is the state of blogging, and, in particular, the operations research blogging world?  It doesn’t appear all that healthy to me, but perhaps I am not seeing things correctly. I think the blogging world was badly hurt by the cancellation of Google Reader.  At least for me, Google Reader was a…
  • Using Analytics for Emergency Response

    Michael Trick
    4 Sep 2014 | 3:19 am
    I just attended a great talk by Laura McLay at the German OR Society meeting in Aachen.  In her semi-plenary, Laura talked about all the work she has done in Emergency Medical Response.  Planning the location and operation of ambulances, fire trucks, emergency medical technicians, and so on is a difficult problem, and Laura has made very good progress in putting operations research to use in making systems work better.  She has been recognized for this work not only in our field (through things like outstanding paper awards and an NSF CAREER award) but also by those directly involved in…
  • Taking Optimization With You After Graduation

    Michael Trick
    7 Aug 2014 | 9:06 am
    In the Tepper MBA program, we use versions of Excel’s Solver (actually a souped up version from Frontline Systems)  for most of our basic optimization courses.  Students like this since they feel comfortable with the Excel interface and they know that they can use something like this in their summer internships and first jobs, albeit they are likely to the more crippled version standard with Excel.  For those who are particularly keen, we point them to an open source optimization system that can allow them to stay within the Excel structure. In our most advanced course, we use AIMMS…
  • The Baa-readth of Operations Research

    Michael Trick
    6 Aug 2014 | 12:47 pm
    At the recent International Federation of Operational Research Society (IFORS) meeting in Barcelona (a fabulous conference, by the way), I had the honor of being nominated as President of that “society of societies”.  If elected, my term will start January 1, 2016, so I get a bit of a head start in planning. I was looking through one of the IFORS publications, International Abstracts in Operations Research.  I am sure I will write about this more, since I think this is a very nice publication looking for its purpose in the age of Google.  This journal publishes the abstracts…
 
  • add this feed to my.Alltop

    Punk Rock Operations Research

  • waiting is torture, but it’s not so bad if there are mirrors or trees

    Laura Albert McLay
    21 Aug 2015 | 8:33 am
    Operations research is the discipline of making better decisions. We have to solve the right problem to better inform decisions, and sometimes solving the right problem doesn’t involve math. One of my favorite stories about solving the right problem comes from MIT Professor Dick  Larson (Dr. Queue!). He summarized his story in an article in Slate about queuing theory [Link]: Midcentury New York featured a rush-hour crisis—not out on the roads, but inside office tower lobbies. There weren’t enough elevators to handle the peak crowds. Complaints were mounting. “One solution…
  • aviation security: there and back again

    Laura Albert McLay
    24 Jul 2015 | 8:45 am
    This week I attended the CREATE/TSA Symposium on Aviation Security at the University of Southern California campus. Center for Risk and Economic Analysis of Terrorism Events (CREATE) and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). It was a nice conference attended by academics, those at government agencies (TSA, DHS, Coast Guard, etc.), and those in the private sector. It was a good mix of attendees and speakers, and no one was shy about raising interesting and provocative ideas. Many issues were discussed in the conference from multiple viewpoints, including: Are we more…
  • punk rock OR featured on math podcast “The Other Half”

    Laura Albert McLay
    22 Jul 2015 | 9:07 am
    One of my blog posts about starting a fire at a gas station was featured on the math podcast The Other Half called “The Road Trip” by podcasters and professors Dr. Annie Rorem and Dr. Anna Haensch [Listen here] The podcast is about taking an optimal road trip (the Traveling Salesman Problem (TSP)) and rare risks associated with travel. In The Road Trip, Anna and Annie look into the math that undergirds the great American summertime tradition of rolling down the windows, turning up the stereo, and touring the countryside by automobile. Randy Olson has made the planning part easy by…
  • Life was simple before World War II. After that, we had systems.

    Laura Albert McLay
    16 Jul 2015 | 11:56 am
    I recently discovered one of Grace Hopper’s quotes: Life was simple before World War II. After that, we had systems. This reminds me of the origins of operations research in military planning in World War II. Coincidence? I think not. Operations research became a formal discipline at the same time it was desperately needed for real problems. To be fair, systems go way back beyond World War II — I immediately thought of Ancient Rome’s bureaucracy and engineered systems of aqueducts and roads. But I appreciate what Grace Hopper implied: we continue to live in a world…
  • just write, damn it: the dissertation edition

    Laura Albert McLay
    9 Jul 2015 | 7:16 am
    One of my recent blog posts entitled “just write, damn it” got a lot of hits and positive feedback. All the feedback was for just writing and none was in favor of planning first. I was surprised that my methodological and analytical readers preferred to cannonball into writing without a lot of planning. Someone told me about an approach to writing a dissertation that was somewhere in between just writing willy nilly and planning. It’s called the One Draft PhD Dissertation [pdf] by John Carlis, a professor of Computer Science and Engineering at Minnesota. His approach is…
  • add this feed to my.Alltop

    RENeW

  • First New England Security Day at UMass Amherst

    2 Sep 2015 | 2:08 pm
    On September 17, 2015, the first New England Security Day (NESD) will take place at UMass Amherst.It will be a full day event and will take place in the Computer Science building from 8:50AM until 5PM with a free lunch but registration is required. You can come for part of the day since some may be teaching or taking classes.The website is here.The keynote speaker will be Jeremy Epstein of the National Science Foundation, who will speak at 9AM.The confirmed speakers are from major research institutions in the northeast, including Rutgers, Stevens Institute of Technology. SUNY Stony Brook,…
  • Co-Hosting Disaster Management Expert from Europe @UMassAmherst

    31 Aug 2015 | 1:46 pm
    September 2015 is National Preparedness Month and, propitiously, the first speaker of the year in our great UMass Amherst INFORMS Speaker series will be an expert on emergency preparedness and disaster management from Europe! His name is Dr. George M. Karagiannis from the University of Crete. I met George last summer at the Dynamics of Disasters conference that  I co-organized with Professors Pardalos and Kotisireas and his talk was fabulous. When he told me hat he would be coming to Boston in September to speak at the coastal disasters conference  I had to figure out a way of…
  • Having Your Operations Research INFORM Policy

    30 Aug 2015 | 7:27 am
    One of my favorite quotes on Operations Research is by INFORMS President-Elect Ed Kaplan of Yale University. It appears in  a paper that he wrote that was published in Omega, "Adventures in Policy Modeling! Operations Research in the Community and Beyond,"and says: Modeling need not be “off the shelf”—rather, modeling with OR techniques should be a celebration of creativity.His paper is a very provocative and stimulating read  and shuts down naysayers.The paper also is filled with examples as to how Operations Research has informed policy and associated decision-making. The…
  • The Joy of Sending Your Book to the Publisher

    27 Aug 2015 | 4:10 pm
    Last week, I uploaded the finished manuscript of  my latest book, "Competing on Supply Chain Quality: A Network Economics Perspective,"  to my publisher's (Springer's) website. The book is co-authored with Dong "Michelle" Li, my former doctoral student, who is now an Assistant Professor at the College of Business at Arkansas State University.The book will appear in the Springer Series in Supply Chain Management, whose Founding Editor is Professor Chris Tang of the UCLA Anderson School of Management. He has been very supportive throughout this project and we acknowledge him warmly in…
  • Just Some of the Very Cool Accomplishments of Isenberg Faculty This Summer

    21 Aug 2015 | 4:20 pm
    One of the best aspects of the Isenberg School of Management in addition to, of course, our great students, is the faculty, who are my colleagues.This summer there have been so many accomplishments at a time when the public think that we are just "on vacation" that I thought they would merit a blogspot. Besides being intellectual leaders, my colleagues are terrific educators and also genuinely nice and very interesting people.My readers know that in late June and July I was in Greece co-organizing the Dynamics of Disasters conference with Professor Pardalos of the University of Florida and…
 
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    OR at Work

  • HR Analytics: Breaking through the wall in HR measurement

    31 Aug 2015 | 5:34 am
    Data and analytics are key to solving all kinds of business problems. Already, many organisations are using data and analytics to gain insights on their performance and use mathematical models to find viable directions for improvement while keeping track of the gains of this fact based way of decision making. Organisations apply analytics to all kinds of challenges in business areas like Operations, Customer Services and Marketing & Sales. The business area that seems to lag behind in using these advanced methods is Human Resources (HR). Of course a lot of HR related data is being…
  • Prescriptive analytics, the next big step?

    21 Jun 2015 | 9:49 am
    Now that you have hooked all the data of your organisation to your KPI dashboard to monitor every day performance and are busy estimating forecasting models for order intake and customer satisfaction, you’re wondering what will be your next step in analytics. Should it be prescriptive analytics? It’s the most advanced, most promising variant of analytics, at least that’s what vendors of analytics software are saying, but it is also the most demanding.  Reviewing the literature on analytics you deduct that the only way to be able to use prescriptive…
  • There is more to analytics than just fishing in the data lake

    25 May 2015 | 8:58 am
    We live in an era in which we celebrate technology, we live for the latest gadgets. Data is now longer a scarce resource, expectations about what can be done with it are rising fast. On the other hand, lakes of data are overwhelming and frustrating people while hard- and software vendors are inviting us to go on a data fishing trip. They tempt us to spend many Euros on data warehouses, hardware, and state of the art analytics software. However, no matter how many Euros you’re spending, if people who work with the data don’t know how to make sense of it or are unable to clearly…
  • What’s stronger than Moore’s law?

    25 Apr 2015 | 6:58 am
    Moore’s law turned 50 this week.  In a now famous paper from 1965 Gordon Moore predicts that every 1-2  years the number of transistors on an integrated circuit will double, lowering production cost and increasing its capabilities. Even more, in the same paper Moore predicts that “integrated circuits will lead to such wonders as home computers, automatic controls for automobiles and personal portable communication equipment”. Can you imagine today’s world without them? This technological progress has boosted computational power enormously and enabled us to solve larger…
  • Do numbers really speak for themselves with big data?

    5 Apr 2015 | 11:31 am
    http://xkcd.com/1289/Chris Anderson, former editor in chief of Wired was clear about it in his provocative essay “The End of Theory: The Data Deluge Makes the Scientific Method Obsolete”. He states that with enough data, computing power and statistical algorithms we can find patterns where science cannot. No need for theory, formal methods to test validity and causation. Correlation is enough, according to Anderson and with him many others.How would this work in practice? Suppose we would like to create a prediction model for some variable Y. This could for example be the stock price of a…
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