Operations Research

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  • A Business School Perspective on Top 5 Analytics Predictions for 2015

    RENeW
    16 Dec 2014 | 6:05 am
    INFORMS has a great new communications social networking platform for its members called INFORMS Connect and today I enjoyed the question posed by Barry List, the Communications Director of INFORMS, to Glenn Wegryn, the President of the INFORMS Analytics Section. Specifically, Barry asked Glenn what are the top 5 analytics predictions for 2015?  I found Glenn's answers thought-provoking and terrific so I have reprised them below along with some commentary.The comments are timely since, just yesterday, we had our end of the semester faculty and staff meeting at the Isenberg School…
  • 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…
  • great mathy popular science books

    Punk Rock Operations Research
    Laura McLay
    10 Dec 2014 | 6:04 am
    At the end of the semester, I often recommend fun popular science books to my students about how to approach problems and make better decisions using math, operations research, and critical and quantitative reasoning. My list is growing. Here is my list in no particular order. Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game by Michael Lewis. This is a great introduction to building models, collecting data, finding “bargains” in the market, drawing conclusions from the models, and differentiating between a good process and good outcomes. Everyone should read Moneyball. Scorecasting:…
  • Bits and Pieces

    greenOR
    or4green
    30 Nov 2014 | 7:47 am
    Here are a few interesting bits and pieces I have come across recently: Check out the “Gestión de Operaciones” website.  It is a blog on operations  management and operations research in Spanish, written by Francisco Yuraszeck, professor in Operational Research at the Universidad Santa Maria in Viña del Mar, Chile.  The purpose of the site is to expose students from Spanish speaking countries to the basics and most important topics in these fields. A while back I posted a bit about “The Toaster Project” in which Thomas Thwaites attempted to build a toaster from…
  • The Age of Algorithms started on a diet

    OR at Work
    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…
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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

  • great mathy popular science books

    Laura McLay
    10 Dec 2014 | 6:04 am
    At the end of the semester, I often recommend fun popular science books to my students about how to approach problems and make better decisions using math, operations research, and critical and quantitative reasoning. My list is growing. Here is my list in no particular order. Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game by Michael Lewis. This is a great introduction to building models, collecting data, finding “bargains” in the market, drawing conclusions from the models, and differentiating between a good process and good outcomes. Everyone should read Moneyball. Scorecasting:…
  • some students don’t learn a whole lot in college

    Laura McLay
    9 Dec 2014 | 7:02 am
    A few years ago, researchers Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa released a book called “Academically Adrift” that claims that many students don’t leave college with new knowledge and new skills [Link to an article in the Chronicle]: Here is what they found: Growing numbers of students are sent to college at increasingly higher costs, but for a large proportion of them the gains in critical thinking, complex reasoning, and written communication are either exceedingly small or empirically nonexistent. At least 45 percent of students in our sample did not demonstrate any…
  • 5 links about women and girls in STEM

    Laura McLay
    4 Dec 2014 | 11:52 am
    A new report called Women in Academic Science: A Changing Landscape suggests that women who persevere and stay in a STEM field will find a level playing field. Why do women undergraduate students change major after taking Calculus I? Not for the same reasons as the men. The share of women in computer science started falling at roughly the same moment when personal computers featuring games marketed almost entirely to men and boys started showing up in U.S. homes in significant numbers. The number of high schools offering AP computer science courses have fallen 35% in recent years. The…
  • 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.
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    greenOR

  • Bits and Pieces

    or4green
    30 Nov 2014 | 7:47 am
    Here are a few interesting bits and pieces I have come across recently: Check out the “Gestión de Operaciones” website.  It is a blog on operations  management and operations research in Spanish, written by Francisco Yuraszeck, professor in Operational Research at the Universidad Santa Maria in Viña del Mar, Chile.  The purpose of the site is to expose students from Spanish speaking countries to the basics and most important topics in these fields. A while back I posted a bit about “The Toaster Project” in which Thomas Thwaites attempted to build a toaster from…
  • Upcoming Talk on Carbon Emissions Game

    or4green
    21 Oct 2014 | 4:04 am
    The Carbon Game On October 30, I will be giving a talk on a carbon emissions game I developed with Bob Day from the University of Connecticut.  I have run the game in numerous classes at the Coast Guard Academy and it has also been run by a professor at West Point.  Bob and I are working on a paper about it and as that wraps up, I hope to post more about it here over time including the rules and materials needed to run the game. Here is more information about the talk: Title:  On Decision Making in a Carbon Emissions Game Abstract: This talk describes a carbon emissions game we…
  • Battery Recycling

    or4green
    28 Sep 2014 | 1:56 pm
    I recycled this image from an earlier greenOR post. It is nice to see a battery recycling program in the works in my state of Connecticut. I learned of this from a recent article in the Danbury (CT) Republican American by Paul Singley: Connecticut environmental officials are working with battery manufacturers to come up with a bill that will be introduced in the 2015 legislative session. Connecticut and the battery industry hope it will be a model for the rest of the country. The law would cover single-use alkaline batteries as well as rechargeable ones. “This increases recycling, it…
  • How to Recycle a Stroller?

    or4green
    28 Aug 2014 | 7:38 am
    How do you recycle an entire stroller?  Here I describe how I went about it, inspired by concepts in The Upcycle and Cradle to Cradle.  We had been storing some old strollers and car seats we no longer used in a shed in our yard.  Some were slightly broken.  The shed roof had been leaking and so some of the items were further damaged.  In the process of fixing the shed, the time came to get rid of the strollers.  The water damage had resulted in mold on the stroller fabric.  So the strollers could not be readily reused by another family. I looked into recycling programs in my city and…
  • The Upcycle

    or4green
    26 Jun 2014 | 11:20 am
    I recently finished reading The Upcycle by William McDonough and Michael Braungart.  It is the follow-up to their inspiring 2002 book Cradle to Cradle, which I wrote about in one of the first posts on this blog in 2007. The Upcycle extends some of the key concepts from Cradle to Cradle such as its critical take on recycling as “downcycling”, the elegant notion of designing materials to be easily separated back into “biological nutrients” and “technical nutrients”, and more.  It takes the philosophy of the earlier book about solving sustainability challenges through design…
 
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    RENeW

  • A Business School Perspective on Top 5 Analytics Predictions for 2015

    16 Dec 2014 | 6:05 am
    INFORMS has a great new communications social networking platform for its members called INFORMS Connect and today I enjoyed the question posed by Barry List, the Communications Director of INFORMS, to Glenn Wegryn, the President of the INFORMS Analytics Section. Specifically, Barry asked Glenn what are the top 5 analytics predictions for 2015?  I found Glenn's answers thought-provoking and terrific so I have reprised them below along with some commentary.The comments are timely since, just yesterday, we had our end of the semester faculty and staff meeting at the Isenberg School…
  • Getting Great News While on the Train - You are a Fellow!

    14 Dec 2014 | 9:50 am
    When one gets some very good news (or bad), one remembers that very moment - from what you were doing when you heard the news to where you were when you received it.Nowadays, much good news comes via email and, with smartphones, the messages can be received almost anywhere.While on a recent trip to NYC, via the MetroNorth train from New Haven, I was engrossed in my New York Times and enjoying the journey. I love riding trains. My husband reached for my smartphone and decided to check my email and said, "You have a message from Oxford University."I suspected that this was a decision on my…
  • Holiday Cookie Supply Chains - Putting Operations Research into Practice

    11 Dec 2014 | 2:12 pm
    This morning I gave the final exam to my Logistics & Transportation students and also collected their project papers, which I am enjoying reading very much.The field of Logistics & Transportation has so many great applications!And, since this is the holiday season, it is a perfect time for putting Operations Research into practice by executing my holiday cookie supply chain.I must admit, since my students have been so good this semester, I spoiled them today. The exam was at 8AM so they needed some support. I brought in the holiday cookies below, which I baked last night after a day…
  • The Physical Internet and Supernetworks

    10 Dec 2014 | 6:16 am
    Now is that special  time of the year when surprise packages arrive at your door!Recently, I received such a package with a letter inside from Dr. Russ Meller, well-known in logistics and transportation circles. The letter started with:Dear Supporter, (crossed out with "Anna" handwritten over it) Along with this note you'll find a copy of the first book published on the Physical Internet (The Physical Internet: The Network of Logistics Networks). There were only 100 published - so, hang onto this collector's item!The image of the book is above and it  is co-authored by Eric…
  • A Terrific UMass Amherst INFORMS Student Chapter End of the Semester Party at the Isenberg School

    7 Dec 2014 | 8:40 am
    It seems to be a truism that the busiest people also get the most done!This past Friday was the last day of classes at UMass Amherst for the Fall 2014 semester with final exams beginning this week.There are final exams to study for and papers to  complete so students are especially busy now as are the faculty.But great memories are made of special experiences and it has been the tradition of the UMass Amherst INFORMS Student Chapter to always host an end of the semester party.This we did (I am the Faculty Advisor of the chapter) on Friday, after also hosting Professor Tilman Wolf in our…
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    OR at Work

  • 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…
  • 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…
 
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    The Operations Blog

  • Touch Point Leadership.. Do you inspire or repel?

    Marci Reynolds
    15 Dec 2014 | 3:05 am
    For a number of years I have been involved in initiatives to improve employee morale and engagement, and create a more positive working environment. In my gut, I have always felt like the big, complex projects or events have a much lower impact on improving this area, versus the small  things we can all do day in and day out. So, I was pleased when I came across the book called “TouchPoints: Creating Powerful Leadership Connections in the Smallest of Moments” by Douglas Conant and Mette Morgaard. A short aside… I came across this book while perusing the business section of my…
  • 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…
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