Operations Research

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  • Spam gets a personal touch: Human 1, Machine 1

    ThinkOR - Think Operations Research
    Dawen
    22 Nov 2014 | 8:46 pm
    Blogging and spamming practically come hand in hand. The obvious ones have been pretty well controlled by the major blogging platforms' spam filters, thanks to advances in text analysis and machine learning algorithms. However, it is not perfect, or is it - you be the judge in this case.This could be an example of how creative spammers are at combating algorithms.Or, it could be an example of a business owner trying to do his own selective SEO (search engine optimization).An old post on mandatory school uniforms got the following spam:I think school uniforms must be compulsory in schools…
  • Thinking about getting a PhD? Here are some good resources.

    Punk Rock Operations Research
    Laura McLay
    21 Nov 2014 | 9:16 am
    Part of my job is to help students figure out if grad school is for them. Over the years, I’ve accumulated a few great resources for students thinking about a PhD. Here are some of my favorites. Here is a link to the first of a series of ten blog posts by Jean Yang, who decided to leave Google to attend grad school in CS at MIT. Philip Guo released an e-book on the PhD experience called The PhD Grind and has a 45 minute lecture on why to consider a PhD in CS. He has a bunch of other good posts about academic life as both a student and an assistant professor. He has a post…
  • A Happy White Thanksgiving and Operations Research

    RENeW
    27 Nov 2014 | 6:36 am
    For many in the US, Thanksgiving is a favorite holiday during which we celebrate history, give thanks, surrounded by family and friends and nourished by delicious food from the turkey and all the trimmings to sumptious desserts.The 2014 Thanksgiving in the northeastern US will be especially memorable due to the snowstorm that hit with travel disrupted from planes to road travel and with many in our area of western Massachusetts and beyond without electric power.I took the photos below this morning because the sun was shining and I had to venture out to see the white landscape that was…
  • Let the data do the talking

    OR at Work
    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…
  • In Praise Of Consistency

    The Operations Blog
    Marci Reynolds
    25 Nov 2014 | 4:24 am
    In my personal life, I tend to be drawn to consistent experiences. When I want something really good to drink, I go to Starbucks and get a Grande Soy Latte. It tastes the same everywhere I go. When I want a really delicious dessert, I head for the warm, chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream- rarely a bad choice!  I have my favorite brands of yogurt, wine and coffee so when I consume them, I get that consistent, good experience. I am a big fan of consistency, and it is just as important in my personal life as it is in the business world. 1) Hold The Happy Dance You may have heard the phrase…
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    ThinkOR - Think Operations Research

  • Spam gets a personal touch: Human 1, Machine 1

    Dawen
    22 Nov 2014 | 8:46 pm
    Blogging and spamming practically come hand in hand. The obvious ones have been pretty well controlled by the major blogging platforms' spam filters, thanks to advances in text analysis and machine learning algorithms. However, it is not perfect, or is it - you be the judge in this case.This could be an example of how creative spammers are at combating algorithms.Or, it could be an example of a business owner trying to do his own selective SEO (search engine optimization).An old post on mandatory school uniforms got the following spam:I think school uniforms must be compulsory in schools…
  • What I learned from a sabbatical year

    Dawen
    10 Feb 2014 | 5:10 pm
    I spent 2013 'overlanding' through South America with my partner. 1 year, 1 continent, 1 simple car, 2 people, 13 countries, 40,000 km. After moving from Canada to the UK 5 years ago, and setting up a new life there, we gave up our jobs, salary, friends and all the comforts of life in one of the greatest metropolis in the world. A lot to let go, but we gained so much more.Above all, I learned how little I need to live on to be happy, material-wise. We converted the back of our little van into a bed, so we slept in it a lot of the nights. Wild camping at some bizarre and cool spots, like…
  • Finally Some Sense on Analytics & Data Science Job Ads

    Dawen
    23 Jan 2014 | 3:03 pm
    After yesterday's post on the state of the debate on building data science teams (individual vs team approach), it's so refreshing to stumble onto this careers page of Civis Analytics. Great example of Analytics & data science job ads done right. This page alone makes me want to apply to work there!They actually divide their jobs into: data scientist, engagement analyst, project manager, software engineer!How sensible. I like it! Nothing like the typical data science job posts, asking for "everything and the kitchen sink". This article was originally posted on ThinkOR.org. Share…
  • Building Data Science Teams: Individuals vs Team - State of the Debate So Far

    Dawen
    22 Jan 2014 | 2:59 pm
    Since my last article on "Hiring 1 Data Science unicorn is hard enough, a team is impossible. To scale means to specialise", similar ideas have been expressed by InformationWeek, McKinsey/HBR, and KDnuggets (here, here, here and here).There has a been a ton of great discussion. I attempt to summarise the viewpoints so far: Data Scientists are supposed to have some pretty deep expertise in some pretty hard areas (see diagram). Is it possible to close this talent gap when we seem to be chasing after superheroes or unicorns? (there are some, but very few)Some (44%)…
  • Hiring 1 Data Science unicorn is hard enough, a team is impossible. To scale means to specialise.

    Dawen
    16 Dec 2013 | 7:25 am
    The Data Scientists need a large set of skills, including business know-how, modelling and mathematics, plus programming. They are as hard to find as unicorns, or superheroes. I know this talent shortage first hand. Is the solution to create more unicorns, or can we devise better solutions?In my last role as a managing consultant in the Operations Research and Analytics team of a large global consultancy, I also ran recruitment. Having spoken to or met 150-200 of such candidates personally, and my recruitment team saw multiples of this number, I can tell you not many of those…
 
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    Punk Rock Operations Research

  • Thinking about getting a PhD? Here are some good resources.

    Laura McLay
    21 Nov 2014 | 9:16 am
    Part of my job is to help students figure out if grad school is for them. Over the years, I’ve accumulated a few great resources for students thinking about a PhD. Here are some of my favorites. Here is a link to the first of a series of ten blog posts by Jean Yang, who decided to leave Google to attend grad school in CS at MIT. Philip Guo released an e-book on the PhD experience called The PhD Grind and has a 45 minute lecture on why to consider a PhD in CS. He has a bunch of other good posts about academic life as both a student and an assistant professor. He has a post…
  • how to seat guests at a wedding

    Laura McLay
    18 Nov 2014 | 10:51 am
    How to optimally seat people at a wedding. SAS started an operations research blog [Link]. Matthew Galati’s first entry is how to optimally seat people at a wedding given assignment preferences. He provides a model that maximizes the total happiness of his guests. His blog post has code, data, and a pictures of a quirky family member or two. It’s a great post worth checking out. I’ve written about optimization for weddings before. I blogged about a paper entitled “Finding an Optimal Seating Chart” in the Annals of Improbable Research by Meghan L. Bellows and J. D.
  • how to forecast an election using simulation: a case study for teaching operations research

    Laura McLay
    4 Nov 2014 | 10:16 am
    After extensively blogging about the 2012 Presidential election and analytical models used to forecast the election (go here for links to some of these old posts), I decided to create a case study on Presidential election forecasting using polling data. This blog post is about this case study. I originally developed the case study for an undergraduate course on math modeling that used Palisade Decision Tools like @RISK. I retooled the spreadsheet for my undergraduate course in simulation in Spring 2014 to not rely on @RISK. All materials available in the Files tab. The basic idea is that…
  • election analytics roundup

    Laura McLay
    4 Nov 2014 | 5:22 am
    Here are a few election related links: Eva Regnier at the Naval Postgraduate School has a bootstrapping forecast model for the US Senate election. Her model uses forecasts from Simon Jackson and Drew Linzer. Information about the upcoming election (usually polling results) becomes available over time, and this information produces a sequence of probability forecasts for each race. Eva writes, “I suspect that these probability sequences are not optimal, i.e. they could perform better with respect to single-period probabilistic scoring rules, using the information they have available. I…
  • thoughts on a PhD development course, part 1

    Laura McLay
    30 Oct 2014 | 6:25 am
    I am teaching a 1 credit hour PhD development course for industrial and systems engineering students at the University of Wisconsin Madison. I am teaching the course with librarian Ryan Schryver, who is using the course to replace his office hours that students never came to. He found that students were not asking the questions that they needed to ask. Additionally, the department has a goal of exposing students to research and people across the department, but we have found that our students work in their labs with few interactions with students in operations research, manufacturing, human…
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    RENeW

  • A Happy White Thanksgiving and Operations Research

    27 Nov 2014 | 6:36 am
    For many in the US, Thanksgiving is a favorite holiday during which we celebrate history, give thanks, surrounded by family and friends and nourished by delicious food from the turkey and all the trimmings to sumptious desserts.The 2014 Thanksgiving in the northeastern US will be especially memorable due to the snowstorm that hit with travel disrupted from planes to road travel and with many in our area of western Massachusetts and beyond without electric power.I took the photos below this morning because the sun was shining and I had to venture out to see the white landscape that was…
  • A Great Transportation Class Field Trip to the Arbella Human Performance Lab and Driving Simulator

    25 Nov 2014 | 5:30 pm
    Today the students in my Transportation & Logistics class and I  had the pleasure of taking part in our second field trip of the semester and just in time before they all headed away from campus for the Thanksgiving holiday. Tomorrow UMass Amherst is closed because of the pending snowstorm, which should make for some interesting travel experiences so do be extra cautious!The field trip was to the Arbella Human Performance Lab in the Engineering 1 building at UMass Amherst, which is way across campus from the Isenberg School of Management. The weather was perfect and the temps in the…
  • Historic College Rivalry Takes Over NYC

    24 Nov 2014 | 11:42 am
    There are many college rivalries - you probably have your favorite - from Harvard vs. Yale, Army vs. Navy,  Amherst College vs. Williams College, or USC vs. UCLA, but I will be writing about another one - a truly historic one and, yes, indeed, it has been played out in sports, especially football.The past 3 days I spent in NYC taking part in the iconic #rivalry150 events surrounding the 150th meeting of  Lafayette College and Lehigh University in a football game in none other  than Yankee Stadium to a sold out audience on Saturday of over 48,200 ticket holders!I admit my…
  • Cybersecurity Research and the Isenberg School of Management

    24 Nov 2014 | 9:16 am
    There is tremendous interest in cybersecurity issues at UMass as well as at the Isenberg School of Management.For example, on December 2, 2014, there will be a Cybersecurity Network Workforce Summit taking place at UMass Boston with participation from the UMass system President Dr. Robert Caret and the UMass Amherst Chancellor Dr. Kumble Subbaswamy.And, just this past September, along with my Isenberg School of Management colleagues, Professor Mila Sherman of Finance and Professor Senay Solak of my Operations and Information Management Department, we, together with Professor Wayne Burleson of…
  • Net Neutrality and Opening Up the Black Box

    19 Nov 2014 | 8:49 am
    I very much care about fairness, equity, and making sure that there is no discrimination and that also is the case for the Internet.Net neutrality is a topic that is now being fiercely debated on the news and talk shows and has many taking political sides.To many consumers, and even businesses, the Internet is a “black box,” which has revolutionized the way in which economic and social transactions and interactions are conducted, entertainment is obtained and experienced, communications are done, and numerous educational activities participated in. If one were to ask Internet users to…
 
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    OR at Work

  • 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…
  • CAP® Certified!

    1 Oct 2014 | 9:14 am
    I just returned from taking the Certified Analytics Professional assessment which I…..(drumroll).… passed! YEAH! Nailed it! Want proof? Here is the confirmation from INFORMS:You might think why does someone with nearly 25 years of experience in using analytics/operations research techniques to solve all kinds of business problems want to get certified? Isn’t experience enough and wouldn’t the assessment be a simple tick in the box for someone like him? Well, it isn’t. As I sat down at the computer of the Kryterion testing centre in Arnhem, I felt very uncomfortable. What if I…
  • When data gets Big, it becomes complicated

    30 Jul 2014 | 2:48 am
    It goes without saying that we live in a data-rich era; data is no longer a scarce resource. The number of devices connected to the internet is growing every day, increasing the growth rate of data even further. Technology providers urge organisations to invest in IT infrastructure and software to capture all that data with the potential of generating new insights, competitive advantage and increased revenues. To capture these advantages, data needs to be transformed into actionable insights and requires organisations to develop the right analytical capabilities. However, technology and…
  • Balancing today’s decisions against tomorrow’s conditions

    30 May 2014 | 11:15 am
    As organisations move up Tom Davenports’ analytics maturity curve, they encounter new challenges in using the insights from data analysis and optimisation models.  Today, the majority of organisations use descriptive analytics to create insights on what has happened. Also the use of diagnostic analytics to understand why things have happened is becoming more common. Moving up the curve towards predictive and prescriptive analytics is more difficult and requires the development of more advanced analytical capabilities. Gartner surveys indicate that about 13% of the companies are using…
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    The Operations Blog

  • In Praise Of Consistency

    Marci Reynolds
    25 Nov 2014 | 4:24 am
    In my personal life, I tend to be drawn to consistent experiences. When I want something really good to drink, I go to Starbucks and get a Grande Soy Latte. It tastes the same everywhere I go. When I want a really delicious dessert, I head for the warm, chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream- rarely a bad choice!  I have my favorite brands of yogurt, wine and coffee so when I consume them, I get that consistent, good experience. I am a big fan of consistency, and it is just as important in my personal life as it is in the business world. 1) Hold The Happy Dance You may have heard the phrase…
  • 5 Best Practices To Build Trust With Employees

    Marci Reynolds
    26 Dec 2012 | 11:37 am
    When I look back at the successes and challenges of 2012, one of the key concepts that had a strong presence in my day-to-day activities and that I learned a lot about/from was “building trust with employees”. It can take one sentence, one conversation or one seemingly innocent action to completely lose the trust of your employees or colleagues. Conversely, it will take multiple conversations, consistent actions and time (and more time), to build the trust of your employees and colleagues. When it comes to building trust, there is no magic bullet, no special pill and no one week contest.
  • It’s Customer Effort, Not Just Customer Sat

    Marci Reynolds
    26 Sep 2012 | 3:53 am
    We spend a lot of time talking about customer satisfaction but a lot less time talking about customer effort. Said another way, how much effort do your customers have to invest to actually get the satisfaction they are looking for? How easy is it for customers to find your self service portal? Once they get there, how is easy is it for them to navigate and find the actions they are seeking? After they open up a customer service ticket, how well do we do keeping them informed of the progress, or do we rely on them to continually check in? When we improve our products, offer new versions or…
  • Wow!! Customer Service On My Trip To India

    Marci Reynolds
    7 Sep 2012 | 5:26 am
      Every once in awhile we get the chance to witness a feat of incredible customer service that reminds us that the stars are aligned, people are nice and that the world is a wonderful, dreamy place. This just happened to me on a business trip to India. Over a ten day period, I flew from the U.S. to Mumbai, then Pune and then Bangalore, India, to attend a customer conference and then to meet with our local customer service team members.  The trip was a huge success, with the exception of my laptop glitch. Like most business travelers, I traveled with my laptop. And like most business…
  • Not In My Backyard? Check Again…

    Marci Reynolds
    21 Jul 2012 | 5:49 am
    It is probably human nature, but when asked about the reason for a dip in performance results, the responses that I often hear are about something or someone else and the responder forgets to look in their own backyard. If we changed this tendency and did look internally first, we would solve problems and improve organizational results at a much faster pace. Here’s what I mean…. I worked in sales organizations for many years and when employees were not meeting their sales quota the most common reasons given were that their sales quota was too high or that their sales territory was…
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