So much to see, so little time…

by Rob Ende on April 11th, 2012

I can’t wait to get to Huntington Beach.  I’m looking forward to connecting with colleagues and friends, both old and new.  And this conference is one of the best “idea generators” I’ve ever found.  I always come back with pages full of ideas (most of which I unfortunately never pursue!).

If you’re anything like me, the biggest challenge with any good conference, like this one, is deciding which presentations to attend.  I’ve been attending the INFORMS Business Analytics (Practice) Conference for about 10 years, and the presentations seem to get better every year.  But that only makes it harder to decide which ones to see.  I spend most of my time doing Supply Chain work, but I’m often just as interested in topics outside of the Supply Chain tracks.  In fact, there’s hardly a time slot without two, three or even four presentations that I’d really like to see.  It certainly helps that we can see the presentation slides in advance (thank you INFORMS!).  They’re a good (not always great) indicator of presentation quality.  Clear writer = clear speaker?

Here’s an optimization problem to ponder.  Wouldn’t it be great if each attendee could rate each presentation in terms of likely interest, and then have a scheduling algorithm create a schedule to maximize the total utility, i.e., people get to see the most presentations they’re interested in?  I know that might wreak havoc with the track structure.  In a simpler scenario, you could maintain the integrity of the tracks (which presentations go in which tracks), but just vary the scheduling of tracks and of presentations within tracks.  What do you think?


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1 Comment
  1. Kean permalink

    Hi Rob:

    I am presenting on Tuesday, and if you are interested in my (supply chain) topic and can’t make it to my session, I’d be happy to share with you the highlights.

    See you at the conference!