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Last day of the conference…

by Burcu Keskin

Last day to make the best out of it. Even though the last day of the conference is typically treated as the stepchild of the whole conference, there are a number of good talks on a number of interesting areas, both sponsored/invited and contributed.  Since I am more interested in supply chain optimization, I wanted to highlight the ones I like:

WA08– Joint Session Location Analysis/Minority Issues Forum: Public Sector Facility Location

WA12– Tactical and Operational Issues in Supply Chain Management

WA72– Joint Session TSL/SPPSN: Aiding Disaster Relief Through Optimization

WB03– Environmental Legislation, Carbon Trading and Supply Chain Management

WB08– Location Modeling Applications

WB12– Emerging Topics in SCM

WB21– Green Supply Chain Management

WC11–Supply Chain Issues and Sustainability

WC12– Retail Supply Chain Management

WC72–Facility Logistics Interactive Session: Distribution Center Operations

WD11– Green Supply Chain

WD24– Joint Session SPPSN/TSL: Decision Support for Emergency Response

WD65– Supply Chain, Shipping and Transportation

I guess “session-hopping” will be inevitable once again! Enjoy!

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Honored presentors - WA49 WD24

by Mary Crissey

I wish I could have stayed on wednesday to catch these two sessions in particular.  I’m highlighting them because I know the speakers will entertain and enlighten you since they are easy to listen to (strong communicators) and also are  intelligent creative gifted analysts.

First session WA track 49 is held in C - level 2 room 10

The  machine learning and Business Intelligence session includes a paper by KDD cup winner and Edeleman finalist Claudia Perlich. Dr Perlich is an active participant in the data mining workshop held the saturday before our annual meeting officially starts.   Even if machine learning is not your “niche” , You will gain from listening to this ANALYTICS talk as you spice up your INFORMS conference.

The last session of the day  WD 24 features decision support analysis for public safety and emergency response - Also in the Convention center - level 4 room19A.

Doug Samuleson will be giving a quick tutorial on agent based simulation and show his model with visual  3D graphics.  One of Dr Samulson’s invention is the Predictive Dialing model which has been implemented in call centers across the globe.   This is your opportunity to see the man behind the words displayed in the story on the last page of ORMS Today - ORacle

The plenary given by Dr Paul Jensen on Spreadsheets and OR will be an eye opener for many.  This INFORMS fellow and retired UT professor is enjoying life in “retirement”  by updating Operations Research Models and Methods.  This website has downloadable Excel Add-Ins and Demo files with data and solutions to accompany the mathematical descriptions for over 40 different modeling techniques - and the # continues to grow!

To be fair - there are MANY many good presenters and valuable talks going on this last day.  in Fact - we could say that the BEST were saved for the last.

Enjoy every last minute of the conference!

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INFORMS Tweetup

by Mike Trick

There are lots of ways to get out information on the INFORMS conference.  This blog is one of them, and it has been great to see the variety of views of the conference.  Of course, with more than 4300 participants, there will be lots of variety in how the conference is seen.

tweetup2010For an even more immediate view of responses to the conference, be sure to track the “#informs2010″ tag on Twitter.  A bunch of us who tweet and use that tag had an impromptu get together this afternoon.  Look for more tweets during the armadillo racing tonight!

Here are the twitter ids (I think! Corrections welcome): @mlesz1 (@informs2010), @dianam, @wjcook, @johnangelis, @miketrick, @polybot, @SDamask

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Presentation to the Chairs

by Ken Chelst

I thought we would give you all a quick update of what we have been doing while at the Informs conference.

Bob Young (NC State) and I provided updates of Project MINDSET to more than 50 chairs of IE and operations research departments. The presentations were enthusiastically received. The chairs recognize that were project MINDSET to reach thousands of high school students each year in their states, it would change the dynamic of how students are attracted to our profession. A number of the chairs from Florida, Washington, Indiana, and South Carolina, to cite a few, are looking forward to returning home and exploring how to bring Project MINDSET to schools in their region. We recommended that they first identify and partner with a leading mathematics educator in a school of education. Such individuals have broad social networks that are critical in engaging local teachers and school administrators. The immediate goal would be to offer a one-day Project MINDSET workshop for local area teachers.  If you or someone you know is interested in becoming an advocate in your State, you can contact project manager Jay Johnson at j.johnson@wayne.edu!

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Operations Research in Chile

by Ken Chelst

Andres Weintraub of the University of Chile had a team translate into Spanish and adapt to their environment the book Does This Line Ever Move? Everyday Applications of Operations Research. This has served as a foundation for a broad outreach effort to bring OR into high schools and to the attention of current and future high school math teachers. The project is called Comunindad Ingenio. They have an impressive website, http://www.comunidadingenio.cl/html/nodos-el/index.php

I recently completed an intensive 10 day trip to Chile to provide advanced training for high school teachers. I taught a two day workshop for 30 participants that included professors of math education, experienced teachers and teachers in training. The trip included meetings with representatives of the ministry of education, senior math professors, leading academics as well as press interviews. There is tremendous excitement about quickly incorporating the MINDSET curriculum as an elective course in high schools and developing a complementary course to be included in the curriculum taught to future math teachers. Andres Weintraub will describe these efforts in more detail at our panel session at 1:30 pm Tuesday (TC 36).

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immigration policy limits innovation

by Mary Crissey

Even though you might not have the BLOGGER name badge on - you are welcome to comment on an entry - or suggest a new topic for an article title.     After observing so many international attendees at our annual meeting come by the job fair, one suggestion given to me was a blog topic citing the topic of citizenship, sponsorship or green cards rulings vs the  necessity to  becoming gainfully employed.

National Security Agency, NSF, CNA and several other governmental contracting firms clearly limit the applicant pools to US citizenship only.  This needs to be one of the first questions applicants and interviewers discuss before moving on to other topics.  Namely - can you reside and stay in the US once school is complete?

With the bright minds and % of graduates from the international communities , Is it a shame that we must decline their talents to opt to continue waiting for an adaquately trained US citizen to come on board?  What have you found in your job search?  should this policy be changed?

What do you think?

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Are you a session-hopper?

by Burcu Keskin

Given the number of parallel sessions and the number of good/interesting talks at the same time slot, to maximize our take from the conference, we all “hop” from one session to another one in the middle of the session time slot. I don’t know if anybody can say “I don’t ‘hop’.”

However, I believe there should be a conference etiquette for “hopping.” For instance,

  • do not “hop” if you are the session chair or one of the presenters. Everybody in one session should listen to each other as a mutual respect.
  • do not “hop” in the middle of the talk, despite how boring it is. It is very distracting to the audience and to the speaker. Most of the time, one of these speakers could be a graduate student who is giving his or her first talk. We should be a little bit more courteous to them.
  • after “hopping” into a session, do not “hop” out right away. Again, please wait for the switch of the speakers.

These are some of my observations. But some other colleagues have agreed with me. Just wanted to share. Please share your comments and observations if you would like to add more to the “conference etiquette.”

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The best student chapters…

by Burcu Keskin

Tomorrow at the Chapters/Fora breakfast, we will recognize the following student chapters as the most active student student chapters of 2009.

Summa Cum Laude

Arizona State University

Magna Cum Laude

University of Massachusetts

University of South Florida

Cum Laude

Texas A&M University

North Carolina State University

University of Illinois - Chicago

Florida International University

University of California - Berkeley

Oklahoma State University

University of Alabama

It is amazing to see the activity level of these student chapters. As our students have something to learn from us, we have somethings to learn from our students…

I would encourage any student member to join their universities student chapter, participate and volunteer for its activities. If you do not have a student chapter, you can contact me to learn about how to setup one.

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The “Junior Faculty” with the best paper is…

by Burcu Keskin

This is an addition to my earlier posting about the JFIG paper competition.

The results for the JFIG paper competition are in. For those of you who have missed the JFIG luncheon,

  • The first place is: Felipe Caro (UCLA-Anderson School of Management) and Victor
    Martinez-de-Albeniz (IESE Business School, Spain), “Product and Price Competition with Satiation Effects.”
  • The second place is: Ying-Ju Chen (University of California- Berkeley), “Optimal Dynamic Auctions for Display Advertising.”
  • The third place is: Achal Bassamboo (Northwestern University) and Ramandeep Randhawa
    (University of Southern California) , “On the Accuracy of Fluid Models for Capacity Sizing in Queueing Systems with Impatient Customers. “

Congratulations!

We appreciate the efforts of all of the judges and our paper competition chair, Hayriye Ayhan!

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Avoiding bunches of buses

by Mike Trick

While the INFORMS conference is big enough to stay within a narrow research area, it is also a great place to get inspiration outside your focus.  I hopped in to see a talk given by Don Eisenstein on work he has done with John Bartholdi on “scheduling” buses.  Don and I were in graduate school together, and we each had John as our advisor, but we work in completely different areas.

Don talked about a system they have put in place to handle buses, trollies, and other transportation systems that have multiple vehicles going over the same routes.  I am sure we have all had the frustration of waiting a long time for a bus, only to have three buses (all running the same route) appear in quick succession.  This phenomenon is common enough to form the title for a popular mathematics book.  Upon reflection, this situation is not mysterious.  If buses are scheduled on a route at, say, 10 minute intervals, then any delay in one bus (a slow entering customer, a traffic jam, and so on), will cause that bus to run even later.  Once delayed by two minutes, more passengers will arrive in the now-12 minute gap, further slowing down the bus.  Meanwhile, the bus following the delayed bus will go faster than normal due to a dearth of passengers for it.  Very quickly, a small increase in the gap will turn into a large gap ahead of the delayed bus and a small gap behind it.

This bunching behavior is very common, and very difficult to schedule around.  In fact, as buses try to keep to the schedule, drivers may resort to dangerous or illegal driving, particularly if drivers are evaluated by their ability to keep to a schedule.  This situation is made worse if a bus suffers a mechanical failure, leading to a large gap in the schedule until the bus can be replaced.

Overall, trying to keep a bus system running smoothly is a very difficult problem.  Lots of people have tried to create better, more robust schedules, but such systems are often complicated and difficult to implement.

John and Don propose a very simple method for handling such a system.  The idea is to have a small number of checkpoints in the system (in the example they chose, they had a checkpoint at each end of the route, with the bus going back and forth along the route).  When a bus hits a checkpoint, the system checks how far behind the next bus is.  If the next bus is expected to hit the checkpoint in 10 minutes, say, then the current bus waits a fixed fraction of that 10 minutes (say .6 times the following time, or six minutes in this case) and then departs.   There is a variant when a bus waits at least, say, 3 minutes after the preceding bus had hit the checkpoint.  That is the entire system!  Ignore schedules, but simply wait a fixed fraction of the time before the next bus arrives.

This simple system has the amazing property that it will self-organize into a nicely spread-out arrangement of buses, and will reorganize itself in the face of bus delays (or speed-ups).  If a bus goes out of operation, nothing special needs to be done:  the system will automatically move the buses into a evenly spread-out pattern (albeit longer apart, since there are fewer buses).  Of course, it also gives up on a fixed schedule, but for systems that arrive often enough, the schedule is generally not relevant to passengers (and in the example they gave, only known to the drivers, not to the passengers).

This research follows their previous work on self-organizing manufacturing systems.  The thing I like very much about this entire research direction is how well it includes robustness.  While simple, these self-organizing systems respond extremely well to changes in the environment, much better than many optimization approaches.

The presentation was very convincing, and Don and John promise a paper “in a few weeks”.  I look forward to reading it in more detail (and perhaps correcting any errors in interpretation I have of their work).

This was just one of the thousands of talks at this conference.  I was very glad I went outside of my normal research range to see this talk.

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Healthcare Operations

by Guillaume Roels

I am very pleased to see that one of the key themes of this conference, besides energy, is healthcare operations. There are indeed talks on healthcare across the board, in the M&SOM cluster, the Service Science cluster, the Data Mining cluster, the Decision Analysis Cluster, among others, and of course in the Health Applications Sponsor.

This is very timely, and much needed. Although much of the political debate has resolved around healthcare policies, I believe that the healthcare system can also be improved by having a closed look at its operations. This is a great opportunity for OR and the talks presented in this conference reflect that well.

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job fair impressions

by Mary Crissey

As the up and coming PhD’s meet face to face with reps from universities across the globe in search for academic research positions, ll over half the tables were occupied by industry and government players.  This year in addition the  long time firms who continue to rely on INFORMS to fill their optimization, routing and scheduling positions - FedX, UPS, Disney, BNSF Railway — there were several first timers on the employer side of the Job Fair.

The word is getting out that INFORMS has talent to solve the tough problems and firms from a variety of industries are looking to effectively and efficiently analyze the growing mounds of data.

As I walked around on Sunday with my blogger badge on , the employers I met all expressed pleasure with the quality of candidates and high amount of talent present in Austin this year.

A common thread among the applicants this year, was the broad exposure to analytics with an eager attitude  to make a difference (or an impact).  While some firms sent HR reps, many of the interviews were handled by fellow OR colleagues who could ask the analytical insightful questions and ensure interesting discussions.

Analytics/OR shops are growing - while other departments are enduring cutbacks .  Especially in this current economy, the pressure is on for efficiency and improved performance.

Starting  spring 2011 ,  INFORMS will host ANOTHER  job placement fair this time at the chicago conference.    Just wehn the ANALYTIC initiative comes center stage,  JPS  will rise to the opportunity to help match talent up with businesses.  OR methods will be implemented to demonstrate impact and deliver positive enhancements to the bottom line.

Energy level was high - with descriptions of job opportunities and pride in the applicants for past  accomplishments - as both players look forward to a brighter 2011.

Perhaps we did “fall back” with the time change ending daylight savings time, but there was definitely a forward push occurring in the job fair section of the exhibit hall 3 in the convention center!

I best sign off now - so i can rise early and get to the 0700 breakfast business meeting with CPMS.  Enjoyed seeing old friends and meeting new ones.

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MINDSET Workshop

by Ken Chelst

On Tuesday, the Informs Public Awareness Committee in conjunction with the creators and supporters of MINDSET will be presenting a workshop for local Austin high school teachers.  The workshop will cover concepts from the MINDSET textbooks including linear programming, Excel solver, queuing, decision trees, and more.

A similar workshop was delivered in San Diego last year, which lead to a teacher taking up the call and implementing an entire MINDSET course in the San Dieguito School District.  80+ high school students in California were introduced to operations research, along with the few hundred in both Michigan and North Carolina which is part of the original scope of the MINDSET project.

The workshop will be lead by MINDSET authors Dr. Kenneth Chelst, Dr. Thomas Edwards, Dr. Robert Young, and MINDSET supporters R. Jean Ruth, and Dr. Dave Goldsman.

Wish us luck!

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Interviews

by Ken Chelst

You may have seen two people (Jay Johnson and R. Jean Ruth) around the conference interviewing some of the attendees.  What are they doing, you ask? They are interviewing the conference attendees to get different perspectives of why people are attracted to operations research.  The questions are pretty simple:

1. What made you choose operations research as a feild of study or work?

2. What types of real-world problems have you solved or are you interested in solving?

3. How do you use or see operations research principles in your every-day life?

The video interviews will be used to create an exciting tool to spread operations research to high school students, as well as the outside world!  So, if you see R. Jean and Jay around with the camera, please stop by and offer your perspective.  The interviews are less than five minutes long, and will help high school students understand the relevance and application of OR.

Don’t be shy, the camera awaits you!

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TSL Society business meeting preview

by Alan Erera

On the agenda tonight at 6:15 in Hilton Salon K is the business meeting of the Transportation Science and Logistics Society.  Although “business meeting” sounds a bit dry, this is a great networking event for those of us who focus in on the transportation and supply chain application domains.  The membership of the society has grown substantially recently, and I think the group is in the 800-900 member range.  Arrive early (i.e. on time) for wine and cheese!

In addition to usual meeting activities, including the presentation of the TSL Society Best Dissertation and Best Paper awards, we will also discuss the new annual society research workshop.  Mike Ball has planned the first one for summer 2011, to focus on congestion management.  The idea is to bring ~80 researchers together annually at Asilomar in California for a single-track, single-theme workshop.  I can’t wait to hear how things are progressing, and to hear ideas for future themes!

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COIN-OR Events

by Matt Saltzman

COIN-OR users, members, fans, and other interested folks, don’t forget to join us for the COIN-OR Users Meeting, 12:15-1:15 today in Conference Center 19B, Level 4.

Come by the booth in the exhibit area, pick up a few chocolate coins struck  with the visage of Fearless Leader (ret.) John Forrest, and talk shop with COIN-OR developers and leaders.

And see what COIN-OR is up to in the 40 track, Convention Center 9C, Level 3.  Yesterday afternoon included fascinating tales from the history of computational LP from John Forrest, John Tomlin and others.

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COIN-OR Cup

by Matt Saltzman

Congratulations to Pietro Belotti of Clemson and the Couenne development team, who received the 2010 COIN-OR Cup for his work on the Couenne MINLP solver.

The goal of COIN-OR Cup prize is to reward effective utilization of COIN-OR or valuable contributions to COIN-OR. This year’s Couenne submission for the prize can be cited for both!  Couenne effectively utilized several COIN-OR projects and contributed to their development. It has the advantage of an extensible solver library/framework and is available as a part of COIN-OR.  Finally, it is quite valuable as a general MINLP solver with the performance on par with other state-of-the-art solvers in this class, as testified by several users in distinct application areas.

See http://projects.coin-or.org/Couenne for more information.

The ForrestFest/COIN-OR 10th Anniversary Fest/COIN-OR Cup Fest at the Iron Cactus was a great success.  A good time was had by all  Thanks to Robin Lougee and Alan King for yeoman work organizing all the activities.

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Membership on my mind

by Alan Erera

The INFORMS conference is always a whirlwind for me…  seeing old friends, catching up with former students, meeting new people… zipping around between sessions and meetings and meals…. A large part of the problem is trying to jam all of this activity into two-and-a-half days: with two little kids at home, staying longer is hard to justify!

But, this year I will be adding one more responsibility: helping to facilitate the discussion at the Student Reception and Focus Group, Monday night from 7:30 to 9 in Hilton Salon C.  Student members and non-members alike are encouraged to attend, and provide input to the INFORMS Membership Committee to help us better understand how to serve our student communities better.

Understanding the “value proposition” of INFORMS membership can be tricky.  While we all enjoy the conferences, it is not always clear what else we get out of being official members.   I’m a member because, as a faculty member, my career is enhanced by providing service to my professional society, and to do so I need to be a member.  Less clear is the value of INFORMS membership to the practitioner community.  When student INFORMS members take jobs outside of academia upon graduation, what could compel them to retain their INFORMS membership?  I think we’ve got a long way to go to provide meaningful value to OR/MS practitioners…

If you’ve got ideas to share with the membership committee in this regard, please let me know.  I certainly hope to hear some good ideas tomorrow from the student members who will form the future nucleus of INFORMS…

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Highlights from the first day – the job fair, food, music, and rumors

by Erica Klampfl

The job fair today was very successful!  Those seeking jobs were out in full force from 12-5.  It was great to see so many qualified candidates, as well as so many companies and universities hiring again.  Just seeing this gave me more confidence in the direction our economy is taking. If you weren’t able to stop by today but are interested in finding out what’s going on at Ford, come check out my talk in session WA18 on “OR at Ford.”

 

After the job fair, I was too hungry to wait for the food at the reception, so I went to get something to eat.  Anyone who likes Cuban food and mojitos should check out “Habana” on 6th street.  The food was authentic & delicious, the service was great, and there is outdoor seating to enjoy the nice weather.  Some things I especially liked were the Mofongo, empanadas, the lechon asado, and of course, tres leches.

 

Once again, the Minority Issues Forum Reception tonight had good food, an open bar, and lots of great posters where the graduate students were available for discussion about their work.  Also being discussed, although of much less interest to me, was the outcome of the Texas A&M and Oklahoma game yesterday where it seems that A&M won – some of the A&M professors claimed it had something to do with optimization methods employed, but I guess I don’t know enough about football to have made the connection.  If you missed this reception this year, put it on your list to go to next year!

 

For those of you who could hear the music from the convention center, that was the Fun Fun Fest going on in Waterloo Park.  Looks like today was the last day for it, so hopefully some of you were able to take a break and enjoy the music.  Not sure what else is going on in town this week, so if you know, add a comment to this blog.

 

For any Rice Alums who are attending the conference, you might have noticed that the Frost Bank tower looks kind of like an owl. I had heard a rumor that this was designed by an architect that had gone to Rice University. However, it turns out that this rumor is really about the main building at the University of Texas. 

 

Frost Bank Tower

 Frost Bank Tower

Main Building at the University of Texas, Austin

Main Building of The University of Texas

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Introducing MINDSET

by Ken Chelst

chelstWelcome to the Informs blog for the 2010 annual conference! My name is Dr. Kenneth Chelst and I am a Co-PI on Project MINDSET. Project MINDSET seeks to bring Operations Research to high school students, and is a collaborative project between Wayne State University, North Carolina State University, and the University of North Carolina Charlotte. The project was funded by the National Science Foundation, and we are currently in our 4th Year. We have developed two full text books; one book is based on deterministic modeling and the second is based on probability. Both books use real world applications to show how Operations Research is used in industry and government, and each book is a stand-alone semester of course work for high schools. The courses are being piloted in more than 20 classrooms throughout Michigan and North Carolina, and significant interest has been shown nationally and internationally.

Our posts for the Informs Conference will focus on MINDSET and bringing Operations Research to high schools. Stay tuned for our next post which will discuss my recent trip to Chile, where they have translated and are using, Does This Line Ever Move? Everyday Applications of Operations Research. This book was co-authored by Dr. Thomas Edwards and myself. It was the starting point for Project MINDSET.

Of course, if you want to learn more about Project MINDSET or meet some of the contributors, you are invited to join us during our Informs session which occurs on Tuesday at 1:30pm – TC36. Room 8B, Level 3. Dr. Robert Young (Co-PI of Project MINDSET), Dr. Dave Goldsman (Faculty, Georgia Tech), Dr. Andres Weintraub (Faculty, University of Chile), and I will discuss how Operations Research should be a key component in high school education and our efforts to make it a reality. Hope to see you there! Check out our website for sample material http://www.mindsetproject.org/

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COIN-OR/ForrestFest Sunday

by Matt Saltzman

Alan King and Robin Lougee write:

Don’t miss John and John (Forrest and Tomlin) as they struggle to answer

searching questions on “Self-documenting Code and Other ‘Tricks’ of the

Trade”!

SD40 Panel Discussion: Sunday Nov 07, 16:30 - 18:00 C - Room 9C, Level 3

Chair: Robin Lougee

….AND….

PARTY TIME!!!!  8-10pm Iron Cactus Grill and Tequila Bar (606 Trinity

Street — 6th and Trinity)

Coin Cup award presentation and reception.  Free food and drink and

conversation!

Host: IBM

Be there or be infeasible!

Alan King and Robin Lougee

Co-chairs, J Forrest-fest | COIN-OR 10th Anniversary Cluster

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Welcome to the Annual Meeting!

by Erica Klampfl

Hope everyone is enjoying the beautiful weather in Austin as much as I am.  There were snow flurries in Michigan as I was leaving, so its nice to be back in a Michigan-like summer.

If you are interested in a carreer in OR, don’t forget to visit the Job Fair today from 12-5.  Lots of companies and universities are here, including Ford.  So stop by and visit me!

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Overbooking, Revenue Management, and Data Mining

by Mike Trick

Fellow blogger Guillaume Roels wrote that the hotel he reserved overbooked, so he has been exiled to a remote location and he bemoaned the lack of customer service in this transaction.  Something similar was obviously going on in my hotel, the Hilton (the main hotel for the conference).  Throughout the checkin yesterday, the desk clerks were looking for volunteers to be exiled, offering various incentives (”Free transportation! A drink vouncher! Big, big discounts, just for you!”) for people to move.  They weren’t getting any takers while I was there, so I fear the late check-ins were similarly sent off to the boondocks.

I bet the hotels got into a mess because they misestimated the number of people who showed up (or overestimated the “melt”: people who canceled in the final week or two).  If they simply took an average “no show” or “cancel in the last week” rate, I bet conference participants do so at a much lower rate.  After all, the vast majority of us have preregistered for the conference, so late cancellation means forfeiting some or all of the conference registration fee.  We have great incentives to figure out early whether we are going to be here or not.  And, perhaps people in OR or other analytic fields tend to not cancel or cancel earlier due to the organized, steel-trap-like minds we all have!  We know what we are doing, so we don’t cancel in the last week.

Of course, whether or not that is true is an empirical question, and one that can be best answered by data mining methods.  Over the course of drinks last night, a senior researcher for a large business analytics firm pointed out the disconnect we have in our field between data mining and optimization.  Often (though not always), these are seem as two phases of the “operations research process”.  Instead, there is a need for much better integration between these approaches.  Data mining should be constantly in use predicting cancellations and melt, driving the revenue management optimization approaches.

For those who were bumped by the hotels last night, you have my sympathies.  Perhaps during your rides into the conference, you can plan how to integrate data mining and revenue management better in order to let hotels avoid these issues in the future.

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Inbound notes

by Matt Saltzman

(1) Encountered backscatter X-ray screening for the first time at Charlotte Douglas Airport.  This may or may not be a big advance in terms of protecting us (google Bruce Schneier and “security theater”), but it certainly seems like a step backward in terms of security line efficiency.  First, you need to divest yourself of more stuff in order to enter the screening area.  Not only shoes, but things that would have slipped through traditional metal detectors–such as non-ferrous belt buckles, wallets, etc.  Then you have to stand stock still, hands over head,  in front of the detector for seven seconds.  Then you have to wait for your image to be cleared before you can proceed to pick up your personal items and dress.  Total time to clear, somewhere around 15 seconds.  Total time to clear a traditional metal detector, about 4 seconds.  And if you’re embarrassed by the thought of getting X-rayed, you can request an alternate screening anyway.

Paul Krugman notes on his blog that we can be thankful for one security line efficiency feature that is deployed in the US but not so often elsewhere–namely, tables in front of the X-ray machines.  Imagine having to wait for each individual to unpack his or her personal posessions (including all the stuff we didn’t have to worry about before) as well as clear the machine.

(2) I’ve been defeated by the time change.  Between picking up an hour on the trip and another hour switching to standard time, I was up at 4 this morning.

(3) Excellent prix fixe Mexican dinner on Saturday at Manuel’s at Congress and 3rd.  $25 for appetizer, main course, and dessert.  A very popular spot, though.  Go early.  There’s not much bar space for waiting, but there’s a pleasant wine bar called Cork & Co. next door.  They maitre d’ said they’d come get us there when our table was ready, but they were overwhelmed by the crowd and forgot about us.  Everything worked out in the end, though.

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Revenue Management in Action

by Guillaume Roels

I haven’t received my conference badge yet, and I am already experimenting the power of Operations Research, and in particular of Revenue Management,… unless it is Poor Management?

The Hilton Garden Hill, in which I was supposed to stay, overbooked its rooms for tonight and had to relocate me in a remote hotel. I am personnally open to this kind of tactics (I am doing research on revenue management after all, and the airline industry has done a great job at educating us that this was “normal”). What I find disappointing was, however, the poor service recovery when the hotel registration clerk realized that the hotel was overbooked. Although RM has done a great job at maximizing hotels’ revenues, there is still room for improvement in terms of customer service. Perhaps putting the customer experience back into service operations would be the next hot topic of this conference?

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Drumroll please for the Junior Faculty with the Best Paper…

by Burcu Keskin

39 papers are submitted for this year’s competition and each one is evaluated based on the importance of the topic, appropriateness of the research approach, and the significance of research contribution.  The competition is chaired by Dr. Hayriye Ayhan. After careful review, the judges have picked 6 finalists:

  • Achal Bassamboo, Ramandeep Randhawa: On the Accuracy of Fluid Models for Capacity Sizing in Queueing Systems with Impatient Customers;
  • Jiaqiao Hu: A Stochastic Approximation Framework for a Class of Model-Based Optimization Algorithms;
  • Juan Pablo Vielma, Daniel Dadush, Santanu Dey:The Chatal-Gomory Closure of a Strictly Convex Body;
  • Ying-Ju Chen: Optimal Dynamic Auctions for Display Advertising;
  • Jingchen Liu, Jose Blanchet: Efficient Importance Sampling in Ruin Problems for Multidimensional Regularly Varying Random Walks; and
  • Felipe Caro, Victor Martinez de Albeniz: Product and Price Competition with Satiation Effects.

The finalists will be presenting their papers in SA07 and SB07 (C-Ball Room F&G, Level 4).

The winner will be announced during the JFIG luncheon at 12:30-2:00pm (Hilton- Salon C, 4th Floor). There are still tickets available for purchase on site. Please join us for a Texas-size, buffet style lunch and celebrate these distinguished junior faculty.

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Doing Good with Good OR Student Competition

by Jim Cochran

This promises to be a great conference in a fun city. I am looking forward to the two sessions on Sunday that will feature the finalists for the Doing Good with Good OR Student Competition (that John Fowler and I co–chaired this year). The sessions are scheduled for 1:30 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m. in Salon A of the Hilton Hotel. This is a terrific opportunity to learn about and be inspired by the efforts of several students to apply ORMS to socially important problems.

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Packing my bags, putting together a schedule

by Mike Trick

I’m off to Austin tomorrow, and looking forward to this conference even than most.  Partly, this is due to Austin, a city I have never been to before.  I particularly like the “Keep INFORMS Weird” page:  this looks like it is going to be a fun place to be!

But I also like a lot of the things on the program.  I was asked to put together some sessions on professional issues (which meant calling up a few people and saying “Wouldn’t a session on X be cool?”:  the session chairs did all the hard work).    You can check out the full list of sessions at the cluster list.  The first session is particularly interesting:  Social Networking and Operations Research organized by Laura McLay (of Punk Rock Operations Research Fame).  8AM on Sunday:  looks like I will have to keep my weird under control on Saturday night in order to be awake for this session.

See you in Austin!

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Packing For the Conference…

by Burcu Keskin

Clothes, shoes, toiletries.. Check!

Laptop.. Check!

Laptop/Cell phone charger.. Check!

Clicker.. Check!

Presentation files, Chapter/Fora/Subdivision documents.. Check!

Things to read/grade/review.. Check!

Baby and baby stuff.. Check! This is going to be my daughter’s second INFORMS conference, and she just turned 10 months old!  It is one thing to get ready for a conference as a professional, it is another one to pack a baby along.. I guess that is one of the challenges we, as working mothers, need to face in terms of how to make it work.

I would invite everybody who is facing similar challenges to the panel discussion on “Balancing Life and Work.” The panel is sponsored by JFIG and WORMS and it will be on Sunday (SD07, C - Ballroom F & G, Level 4 ).  If you are looking for answers, come and listen to our successful panelists. If you already do have answers, please come and share with us!

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All the information you need before you go……

by Gary Bennett

AV: BRING YOUR LAPTOP
LCD (computer) projectors will be available in every technical session room. Please note that you must bring your laptop (or share with another presenter) and AC power adaptor. Technical assistance will be available for any AV problems.

LOCAL TRANSPORATION TO HOTELS
Complete information on transportation from the airport to local hotels is here. If you take a taxi or shuttle from the airport, be sure to specify the full name of your hotel because INFORMS is using a large number of downtown hotels. SuperShuttle is offering attendees a group discount from 11/03/10 – 11/13/10.

FROM YOUR HOTEL TO CONVENTION CENTER
Click here for a map showing all the INFORMS hotels and the Convention Center. Use the main entrance of the Convention Center on Trinity Street.

AVOID THE LINES: REGISTER NOW!
If you haven’t registered yet, do it now and avoid lines at on-site registration. Online registration here is open through Thursday, November 4 at 11:59pm EST; after that, you must register onsite. Please note if you have a balance due when you arrive, be sure to stand in one of the “On-site” registration lines.

REGISTRATION HOURS, LOCATION
Registration will be located at the Austin Convention Center, inside Exhibit Hall 3 (use the Trinity Street entrance). Hours are: Saturday – 2:00-7:00pm; Sunday-Wednesday, 7:00am-5:00pm.

GOING GREEN?
If you chose to not receive a hard-copy printed program in Austin, you can print out sections of interest before you travel. You can also use the ITINERARY tool in the Program Search. Details here, select “Print PDFs of the Program.” This year we have added tracks with 30 or more sessions to the list of printable PDFs. All registrants will receive a summary brochure in Austin. This “Quick Reference” includes the master track schedule, maps and floor plans, speaker information, listings of special events and community business meetings, and abbreviated information about the major social events.

INFORMS COLLOQUIA, CIST, DM-HI WORKSHOP
Registration for these events takes place in the Hilton, Sat. Nov. 6, 7:00am-2:00pm in the Ballroom Foyer, 4th floor (Colloquia registration on Friday is also located on the 4th floor, Salon A foyer).

SATURDAY VENDOR WORKSHOPS
If you are arriving early, take advantage of the free workshops scheduled for Saturday, 9:00am-5:30pm. Click here for descriptions and schedule. All Vendor Workshops are located in the Convention Center. You do not need your badge to attend the workshops. Enter the Convention Center on the 4th Street entrance and go to Level 4.

MEMBERSHIP MEETING -SATURDAY
The INFORMS Board encourages members to bring your ideas, opinions and suggestions: Saturday, 5:00-6:00pm, Hilton, Salon B, 4th floor.

NEW MEMBER ORIENTATION
New INFORMS members are invited to attend a welcome and orientation session, Sunday, 4:30-6:00pm, Hilton, Salon C (4th floor). INFORMS leaders will provide information on membership benefits, communities/subdivisions services and tips on how to navigate the INFORMS meeting.

WELCOME RECEPTION- SUNDAY
The perfect venue to meet colleagues, visit the exhibits and enjoy light refreshments: Sunday, 7:30-9:00pm, Convention Center, Exhibit Hall 3.

COMMUNITIES MEET & GREET-SUNDAY
Going to the Welcome Reception? Then stop by the Communities Meet & Greet event. Communities (aka Subdivisions) “cut INFORMS down to size” and allow you to collaborate, network, and make friends with peers who care about what you care about. You will find clearly marked tables staffed by Community representatives who are ready to welcome you. Tables will be color coded to help you navigate the “Meet and Greet” event.

AWARDS CEREMONY-SUNDAY
Celebrate the achievements of your colleagues: Sunday, 8:30-9:45pm, Convention Center, Ballroom G, Level 4. A dessert reception will be served following the ceremony, open only to guests who attend the Ceremony. Doors will close at 8:45pm.

GENERAL RECEPTION TUESDAY EVENING- 7:30pm-10:30pm
Convention Center, Exhibit Hall 5
Take a trip to the Wild West! Entertainment includes armadillo races, an Old West photo booth, mechanical bull, line dance lessons, and the live band “Texas Unlimited.”

COMMUNITY/SUBDIVISION MEETINGS
INFORMS Communities encourage members and interested attendees to attend their meetings and receptions. Here is a complete listing.

FREE INTERNET ACCESS IN EXHIBIT HALL
Free wireless Internet and an email center will be located in the Exhibit Hall (Hall 3, Convention Center), at the back of the hall. Name badges must be worn for admittance. Email access will be available Sunday-7:00am-5:00pm; Monday & Tuesday - 9:00am-5:00pm; Wednesday – 9:00am-1:00pm. Please note: there is no complimentary wireless available at the Hilton.

2010 TutORials – FREE ACCESS to MEETING REGISTRANTS
All attendees receive free access to the INFORMS 2010 TutORials in Operations Research online book concurrently with the Meeting. For access go to http:/www.informs.org//Journal/Tutorials-in-OR/2010-TutORials-in-Operations-Research-ONLINE and enter your INFORMS member username or password. For more information, visit INFORMS booth 46-47.

INTERACTIVE SESSIONS
Be sure to stop by the Interactive Sessions on Monday and Tuesday, 12:30-1:30pm in the Exhibit Hall. On display will be 80 posters and laptop demonstrations on diverse ORMS topics. Authors will be on hand to describe their work during these times.

PRINT-READY PROGRAM ONLINE
You can print out sections of the program before you travel to Austin. Click here. You will find PDF files for all four days of the meeting, plus other important information.

DAILY eNEWS COMING TO YOUR INBOX
Don’t miss the third year of eNews Daily, with feature articles, previews of can’t-miss events, photos, reminders and more! Each morning of the meeting, attendees will receive in their email inboxes this convenient and useful publication.

KEEP AUSTIN WEIRD
The Daily eNews will direct you to “Keep Austin Weird,” an online site listing all the unique and fun things to do in Austin, where you can link up with others who want to take in the same show or event. This special Austin feature has been developed by the Austin Organizing Committee, so it provides an authentic local look at the Austin scene.

BADGE REQUIRED FOR TECHNICAL SESSIONS
Your Austin registration badge must be worn to all meeting events. All attendees, including speakers and session chairs, must register and pay the registration fee. Lost badges can be replaced at the Registration Desk ($5 fee).

25+-YEAR MEMBER RIBBON
If you have been an ORSA-TIMS-INFORMS members for 25 or more years, stop by the INFORMS booth in the Exhibit Hall to pick up a ribbon designating your 25+-year membership. We salute our long-time members!

AUSTIN VISITOR INFORMATION
You can stop by the visitor information booth at the Convention Center, Exhibit Hall 3 for brochures and advice on what to see and do in Austin.

WEATHER
Austin in November can be warm during the day and cool in the evening. Get the latest forecast at: http://www.wunderground.com/US/TX/Austin.html. Be sure to bring a sweater or light jacket, since meeting rooms are often cool.

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INFORMS comes to Austin, the city of Live Music and Great Food!

by Liwen (Brandon) Chen

by Liwen (Brandon) Chen

To me, there are three very exciting things to look forward to for the rest of the year: starting my new job as an Assistant Professor in Marketing at City University of Hong Kong in July; having another baby boy in August; and returning to Austin for INFORMS Annual Meeting in November! I have been in Austin for almost eight years since I came to the U.S. It is difficult to even think of leaving Austin after so many years of happy times.

You may have already obtained a lot of information about Austin from the conference website. Now I am going to provide you some secret information about food in Austin from a student’s point of view.

The must-try food in Austin is, of course, the Texas BBQ. Every time people ask for recommendations for food, Texas BBQ comes to my mind at once. Salt Lick is on the top of my favorites list. However, it’s a bit far away from town. You need to drive about 40 minutes all the way to middle of nowhere. The best thing about Salt Lick is that you can bring your own beer and enjoy live music while you are waiting for your seats. Usually May is the peak time. Families coming for graduation celebrate there. If you don’t have time to try the original Salt Lick BBQ, you may try a mini version at the Austin airport. County Line is also a good place to go. Their homemade bread is most people’s favorite. But again, it’s not that close to town. So the best choice for INFORMers will be Iron Works at 100 Red River. It’s pretty close to the Convention Center. It is famous for its delicious beef ribs. Rudy’s “Country Store” is another very popular place for Texas BBQ. I have a question for people who will visit it: you will see some plastic bags full of water hanging on the roof there. What’s the purpose of those bags?

Now, Chinese food. People who know me know my answer for this category. My favorite is Asian Market. It was a very small place months ago, located inside a small Chinese grocery store. But now it has moved to next door and there are more seats available. But still, it’s very popular all the time since it is the only authentic Sichuan cuisine in town. If you are a fan of Sichuan cuisine, it is a must-go in Austin.

For Tex-Mex, I know a place called Abby’s which is famous for its average 40 minutes waiting time. I believe there is a lot of space for improvement from an operations researcher’s point of view. Try it and talk to the manager; there may be a consulting project waiting for you.

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