INFORMS Practice Conference

April 18-20, 2010 | Hilton Bonnet Creek, Orlando, Florida INFORMS



Final Thoughts

by Michael McCoy

Yesterday was a travel and catch up day.  Starting early in the morning packing and getting ready, I caught a flight early enough to come into the office and spend a couple of hours catching up on e-mail and expense report and such.  After leaving the office, I ended up going home and crashing.  It has been a long weekend.

Today, I’m sorting through the contacts I have made at the conference.  Some of them require a follow on contact and some of the people I met asked for documents and other information.  I have asked them to send me an e-mail to remind me of what it is I’m to supply.  My memory is not what it used to be, so any help in that area is always welcome.

My final impressions on the conference.  I felt the conference was very well organized and I had a great time attending.  The papers were top notch and I really enjoyed the Plenary sessions.  The contact I made were excellent and the work we did in defining Analytics and helping the INFORMS organization analyze what this is, was very exciting.  I believe this is an area we can excel in.  One of the first objectives of the Certification committee is to try to define what is included in Analytics.  We will be doing this for a little while and comparing what we come up with to Capgimini’s concepts.  Then we can resolve that and develop a body of knowledge in this important area. 

I would like to thank everyone who has followed this blog.  As I pointed out in the beginning, this is my first experience doing this and I hope this has been of interest.  I think it does give the people who cannot attend a feel for what the experience is and a summary of all of the things that can happen at a conference, especially the networking that can be accomplished.  Thank you for following this blog.

The Best of Practice2010

by Adam Clark

Overall I was very satisfied with the Practice conference.  Clearly I didn’t attend ALL of the presentations, but I wanted to pitch my nomination for this year’s “Best Of”.  If you presented but don’t see your name here – just assume that I must not have attended yours.  :)

Most Interesting New Idea:  ”Better, Smarter Electricity Markets” Richard O’Neill – Apparently my future refrigerator will talk with power grid about the best time to defrost – how cool is that!

Most Entertaining Presentation: A TIE between “Fueled By Randomness” by Sanjay Saigal and “The Balance Beam Process” by Donald Buckshaw. Who says O.R. Analyst don’t have a sense of humor?

Most Educational: “Solving the World’s Simplest Problem” by Homie Razavi.  All of the small diversions on why the data was shaped the way it was contained bits of trivia I never knew I didn’t know.

Best Networking Event: The Posters.  I would have thought that one of the lunches would be better for this – but the noise was so loud that I could only talk to those right next to me. However, while the poster displays were a bit tight – it was much easier to have a conversation and learn about someone’s work.

Best Badge Ribbon: The Neon-Yellow “Blogger” ribbon could be seen from across the room.  There was one report that London would start allowing planes to leave due to a break in the ash-cloud – only to learn that the light was really coming from these bright ribbons in Orlando.

Best Memory from the Conference: INDEVAL winning the Edelman Award. The immediate celebration by the winners was so infectious that I felt like joining in the dancing.

Til next year!

Tuesday’s Activities

by Michael McCoy


Again I started the morning meeting friends for breakfast.  As we ate, others joined us and we had some very interesting conversations about the application of Operations Research in different areas.  These conversations are very interesting and sharing our experiences, a major part of attending the conference, helps us understand how OR is applied in other areas of application.  Also, our conversation drifted to Analytics .  As we gain a better understanding of the application areas for Operations Research we also understand how Analytics is understood and employed in different companies.  This may prove very useful as we attempt to define the Body of Knowledge for Analytics and a taxonomy to relate various aspects of Analytics.

The next major activity I attended was the Capgemini workshop to help organize their efforts for the up coming study to define the demand for Analytics and perform a cost benefit analysis.  This was a very interesting session scheduled from 9 till 11 in the morning.  Initially, lots of questions were asked and conversation about the various aspects of Analytics.  Several teams were assigned topics and questions to discuss and brainstorm.  These questions centered on trying to determine  what the demand for Analytics would be, what is communities should be surveyed.  Also, one of the questions was centered around what the practitioner’s really wanted.  We our table concentrated on the new hires and determined that a roadmap of career development would be the most beneficial.  This wa s an interesting discussion and we determined that that roadmap would include recommended training and education.  Experience is another area that needs to be considered.  As we discussed the issue, certification came up.  It seems that certification would provide a mechanism for determining where the person resides in the roadmap, a gap analysis if you will, that allows the practitioner to determine what new training, education or job rotation might  help them progress up the roadmap to career advancement and promotion.

The meeting went a  bit long because the discussions were animated and highly interested.  All of the people in the workshop found the discussions interesting.  Capgimini  showed extraordinary progress in the first three weeks of working the effort and I have great faith that they will come up with a good solution and guidance for the Informs organization.

Next was lunch.  I was asked to facilitate the Military/Government tabled.  The table seated several participants from the Marine Corp. Systems Command, Jeppesen, Kroger, US Department of Homeland Security and U. S. Navy.  The conversation was excellent.  All participants shared their title, position and duties along with sharing live experiences with the others at the table.  Also, non of the members of our table won any of the door prizes

Next was the Plenary session on Better, Smarter Electricity Markets: How Better Optimization Software Can Save Billions, by Richard O’Neill.  This was a very interesting presentation on work being performed by the Federal Engery Regulatory Commission.  The attendance was great and the talk was excellent.

A forum for debate?

by Peter Buczkowski

I attended a talk yesterday morning that sparked some controversy and debate.  The actual speaker and topic isn’t important, but the speaker spent some of the time during his talk downplaying the premises of other talks during the conference.  While I didn’t agree with his tactics, I started to contemplate if there is a forum that encourages healthy debates among individuals or groups.  We have outlets for networking, specifically the lunches and birds of feather, but people usually have a common ground on the topic. 

What are your thoughts on this?  How can we encourage healthy debate on topics where we don’t agree on a side of the issue?  (Note: I think its healthy for the audience to ask challenging questions of the speaker at hand, but I don’t think the speaker should use the podium to downplay others work by name.)


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Congratulations to the Edelman finalists

by Srinivas Bollapragada

The Edelman finalist presentations on Monday had exceeded my expectations.  I had fun attending the talks, chairing the winner selection meeting and then participating in the extremely well run Gala and banquet. The committee of 10 judges had a tough time of picking a single winner out of six excellent entries but ultimately I am happy with our choice of the team from INDEVAL as the first place winner. A lot of effort went into organizing this competition. I thank all the judges, coaches, the rest of the Edelman award committee, the Edelman Gala committee and the INFORMS staff for their contributions in successfully running this competition. All the six finalists are invited to reprise their talks at the INFORMS Annual Meeting in Austin, TX. If you missed some of the talks, you may have another opportunity to attend them in November.

Thoughts from Monday

by Ann Bixby

I had a really enjoyable day at the conference yesterday.  The networking lunch and the birds of a feather discussion were great opportunities to meet some new people and talk about our profession.  I also got a chance to attend 3 of the Edelman finalist talks.  I saw some really high quality presentations and was especially impressed with the work from INDEVAL, so I was very excited for them when they won the award last night.  Congratulations!  The Edelman Gala continues to be a great event (although being on the committee I will admit to some bias…).  If anyone has any feedback on the gala, please comment.

And on a completely different note, I managed to enjoy the outdoors yesterday despite the occasional rainfall:

Congratulations to INDEVAL

by Adam Clark

The Edelman Award banquet is one of the best events of the conference.  The year’s best O.R. successes vying for the professions top recognition – and the committee sure knows how to build up the anticipation. Kudos to those who helped put the banquet together. Congratulations to all of the finalist – all of the projects were fascinating and all of them showcased the power of Operations Research.  And of course – Congratulations to INDEVAL, this year’s Edelman Award winner!


Walt’s wORld – Edelman Awards Dinner

by Walt DeGrange

Warm boxes

So, my next “behind the scenes” adventure in search of OR was to the massive kitchen of the conference center. Bernard, the head chef, was kind enough to give me a tour. The Edelman Award dinner requires 500 salads, main dishes and desserts. The salads and desserts are prepared earlier in the day and stored in a chill box (giant refrigerator).

The main course is prepared and plated just before the event.  Sixteen cooks plate 45-50 plates every 10 minutes for 50 minutes (talk about exponential service rates). After this incredibly fast step, the plates go into a warmer box. Bernard said most dishes can remain in the warmer box for up to 30 minutes with no ill effects.  The servers then remove the plates and serve their tables.

Everything happens fast and furious — but the staff sure makes it looks easy. Serving great food really fast to a formal event is as much art and hard work as it is science.

Salads on the way!

Monday’s Activity

by Michael McCoy

I started off today meeting a few friends for breakfast at 7:00.  We had an enjoyable time discussing Analytics and certification (they are on the certification committee).  Breakfast went very quickly and we did meet a number a others who joined us and talked about what they did in their perspective jobs.

After the breakfast, I went to the Plenary session on Changing Analytics: A Disney Perspective, by Mark Shafer.  This was a fascinating presentation that showed many of the applications of Operations Research at Walt Disney.  The presentation was very well received and informative.  Then I followed that up with attending “Storytelling through Simulation: Case Studies at Disney Parks by Peter Buczkowski.  Again, this was a very information and interesting presentation.  This presentation showed a number of applications of simulation  and how it is used in different applications within Disney.

During the next session, I had an entertaining conversation with Susan, a professor in Industrial and Systems Engineering.  We talked about the Analytics, multidisciplinary applications of Operations Research and the value of continuing education.  We also talked about how Management Science seems to not have many student chapters.  I was wondering how we can reinvigorate that concept.

After that I attended Track 6 “Industrializing Analytics at Cisco Advanced Services by Rahul Saxena and Anand Srinivasan.  Rahul is on our certification committee and we have been working with him on defining Analytics so this presentation was a very interesting summary.  In attendance was Tom Davenport also.  I got to meet him and told him about our effort to define a Body of Knowledge for Analytics.  I asked if he would be interested in seeing what we come up with and help refine it.  He said he would be very interested.  So we are going to try to keep him in the loopl.

At lunch, I was a facilitator for a group of people in Table 34.  We had a very interesting mix of industry, government and academia discussing different issues.  At first, I started with specific questions like introducing each other with name position, company and area of application.  Then we standard questions to give to each of the participants.  However, it did not take long until the table was socializing very well and we no longer had to resort to questions to facilitate the conversation.  It was an enjoyable lunch.

After lunch Rahul, Anand, Walt and I got together to start brainstorming a taxonomy for analytics.  We defined several dimensions to explore to include: Techniques (Sim, Opt, Stat, Data Analysis, …); Industry (Aerospace, Automobile, Communications, Health Care, Military,….); Practice or Application Area (Risk Management, Supply chain Mgt. Revenue Mgt. Business Analytics, Engineering, etc…); People skills (communications, Math, Critical Thinking,….); and Real time vs. non real time.  Rahul is taking the work we have developed and setting it up to put into our Wiki.  This is the beginning of developing an Analytics Wiki.  It will be shared with the rest of the committee during your next meeting scheduled in early May.

Next,  I attended  track 2 for a paper entitled “Solving the World’s Simplest Problem: How Many People Will Have Hepatitis C in Ten Years” by Homie Razavi.  Again this was a very interesting presentation where he was using innovative methods to predict the spread of Hepatitis C.  This just shows that this conference has many extraordinary papers and there is not enough time to get to see all that I would like to attend.

After the sessions, I attended the Birds of A Feather on Analytics.  There was a lot of good discussion on where Analytics lies with respect to Operations Research, Systems Engineering and other disciplines.  It seems that we will have a challenge in defining the details about Analytics to insure that it is not just renaming Operations Research yet does not encompass  all disciplines.  As Tom Davenport pointed out this morning, some people think Analytics is everything.

The Edelman Awards Gala and Banquet was spectacular.  There was great attendance and all of the finalist teams show why they were finalists.  The meal was outstanding as well.  This was a great way to end the evening.  Good food, good wind and good company while recognizing the finalists for this years awards and the winner.


A Good Monday

by Kathy Lange

I have been attending INFORMS meetings consistently since 2005.  I have always enjoyed the Practice Meeting, hearing about the innovative ways that people apply OR to a wide range of business problems.  In the past few years, I have tried to attend the presentations of the Edelman award finalists and try to predict who the winner will be before it’s announced.  Today, I attended the presentations of the Delaware River Basin Commission, Deutsche Post DHL, Procter & Gamble, and Indeval.  I missed the Sasol presentation as it overlapped with the plenary speaker this morning and I was late to the New Brunswick Department of Transportation presentation this afternoon (and was locked out), so I have to make a prediction with more uncertainty than I’d like.    

I was a facilitator of a lunch discussion today and we had a lively debate about analytics and operations research.  Is one a subset of the other?  Are the terms synonymous or are they overlapping?  Where does data and text mining and forecasting fit in?  When we talk about analytics or operations research, do we just mean the math or is it the entire decision analysis process, that includes data access and integration, data quality, and presentation of results?  I’d be interested in your opinions on this and the role of INFORMS as a professional organization to address any and all of these things.

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Song of the Day

by Adam Clark

[To the tune of "We didn't start the fire" by Billy Joel]

Disney owns nine tenths of the nation; The FFMP aides trout protection;

Chevron analyzes negotiation; Sanjay is fueled by SIP notation;

Lunch was craved; R&D Saved;

Posters at the Dessert Bar;

I didn’t present a paper, though I thought about it, I didn’t flout it;

I didn’t present a paper, but to be clear, I think I might next year.



Walt’s wORld – Name Tag Doohickeys

by Walt DeGrange

So what the heck are the things hanging off the Practice Conference nametags?

I went to the registration booth and asked what the official name was for these colorful pieces of cloth. Evidently they are called ribbons. There are at least 10 different types. Any guesses what ribbon has the most wearers this week? How about the least?


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First Impressions

by Jeff Camm

I arrived late Sunday afternoon so had to miss what looked like a wonderful day of Technology Workshops. I did make it in time for the outstanding reception. I love this conference where the folks from industry seem to outnumber the academics 10 to 1. It is an ideal venue for the editor in chief of Interfaces (always hustling interesting, applied papers). If you have an idea for an Interfaces paper, please let me know. I am especially looking for papers on “lessons learned in the field.”

First impressions – - outstanding hotel (kudos to the meetings staff!) and great crowd, especially given the economic times. Perhaps OR is a leading indicator and things are looking up.

Today is the World Series of OR, the Edelman competition. It looks like another outstanding group for this year’s competition. I have served as judge and coach in the past and the winner is almost always a team I did not pick going in. So, I won’t predict a winner! Good luck to all of the teams and kudos to the judges. It is an exhausting day for competitors and judges. Tonight we’ll know the winner!


So Far, So Good

by Allen Butler

Although the conference doesn’t really get started until tomorrow, Sunday was a packed day for me. As the member representative for my company, Daniel H. Wagner Associates, I spent the day in the INFORMS Roundtable meeting. The Roundtable comprises the Institutional memberships in INFORMS and currently consists of around 40 companies, ranging from small consulting firms like my own to somewhat larger companies, like Intel, IBM and General Motors. The theme of this meeting was “Why Math Isn’t Enough,” and even though I am a proud mathematician, I must admit the truth in that statement for OR practitioners.
We also heard a presentation from Randy Robinson, the chair of CPMS, the Practice Section of INFORMS. He told us a little about the history of the organization and the work they do to represent the practitioner within INFORMS, including conducting the Edelman competition. As this is the Practice Conference, one would think the attendees would include a large number of CPMS members and this is most assuredly true. Each of YOU automatically becomes a CPMS member when you register for the conference – congratulations! Watch for the CPMS newsletter coming your way soon.
Finally, if you stand in the main hallway (Floridian something or other) and look out the large glass windows, you’ll see a beautiful golf course, with immaculate greens, surrounded by water. As picturesque as this view is, I assure you that the sight of those sloping banks is not nearly so lovely when you’re standing in the fairway with your last Pro-V1 golf ball and a five iron in your hands.


Show me your O.R. Credentials

by Adam Clark

Wow!  What a great first day.  As I warned, I sat in on the Soft Skills workshop today.  While some of the soft skills were addressing issues only encountered by a Decision Analyst, considered as a whole, anyone would benefit from the workshop.  The discussion on how to elicit data (probabilities to be exact) from Subject Matter Experts was especially interesting and applicable to anyone who has ever had to work with probabilistic data.

The highlight of the workshop was the main example that continued through all the lectures – Should there be Operations Research Certification (presumably from INFORMS) for O.R. professionals?  Apparently this is a real discussion going on – though it seemed that most of the workshop attendees didn’t know anything about it.  My initial feelings on an OR Certification is that it would be great for the profession. Yet many questions linger…

  • Would there be a test?
  • Would there be a minimum experience level?
  • Would it be for “OR” in general or for specific OR fields?
  • Would there be a really cool suffix for your signature block?  For example; Adam Clark, MS, ORMS/MODA/SIM/LP

I’m interested in hearing any and all comments about this.

Sunday Activity

by Michael McCoy

We had a very successful Credentialing meeting this afternoon.  Five members attended in person and another four called in on the telecom.  We discussed the Analytics Body of Knowledge that we are beginning to develop along with the potential collaboration between the Credentialing committee and the Continuing Education Committee.  More work has to be done on this subject.  We are developing a Wiki to work out the Body of Knowledge and begin shaping this concept.  This will be a major effort for this committee for the next couple of months.  Rahul Saxena actually made it on time from India.  We really thought he would have a lot more trouble making it to the conference because of the flight problems in Europe.

We also have three members attending a meeting with CapGemini who is contracted to identify the demand for Analytics within the community and INFORMS.  This meeting will be on Wednesday morning.

After the meeting several of us attended the INFORMS Welcome Reception and Exhibits.  It was a very nice event with good attendance and a great social networking event.

Walt’s wORld – Conference Scheduling

by Walt DeGrange

If you are like me, you have attended your fair share of conferences. There are the really large conferences (like the INFORMS Annual Conference) that have elaborate tracks and cluster sessions with people in charge of recruiting speakers and scheduling presentations.  The Practice Conference is a little different. So how is the schedule created?

I went right to top for the answer by talking to Bill Klimack, Council Chair for the Practice Conference Advisory Council. Evidently, about 50% of the presentations do follow the traditional track system. The Council tries to identify any hot topics for those tracks. The other 50% of the presentations are selected from the Call for Presentations.

Presentations are selected and then the scheduling begins. Bill has the final review of the schedule and uses a proprietary “top secret” heuristic to deconflict any briefs with the same subject being presented at the same time.

So — no fancy linear programming scheduling program to be found! I will continue to look for OR supporting OR…

New Applications

by Ann Bixby

Something interesting I just heard at the Gurobi workshop–about 30% of the academic licenses for Gurobi are being used outside of OR departments, for example in the area of cryptography.


by Michael McCoy

After a little problem at the airport, I arrived successfully on Sunday. I was able to register quickly and everything is going well. I have a Credentialing telecon scheduled for 4:00 Eastern time in the Brevard Room. After that, I’ll check out the schedule and comment on how the evening goes.

Franz Edelman Award for Achievement in Operations Research

by Srinivas Bollapragada

It has been my privilege to chair the 39th annual international competition for the Franz Edelman Award for Achievement in Operations Research. Six finalists will make presentations showcasing their projects that had major impacts on their client organizations in the Collier/Columbia/Citrus room on Monday April 19th, 2010 starting at 8AM. The competition will conclude that evening with the gala awards ceremony and banquet, where the first-place winner and other finalists are honored.

The Franz Edelman Award competition is jointly sponsored by INFORMS and CPMS. The purpose of the competition is to bring forward and recognize outstanding examples of ORMS practice. This year’s Edelman award process began with a call for abstracts in early September of 2009. A committee of roughly three dozen experienced OR practitioners and academics reviewed the applications and selected around 15 semifinalists in November. After a thorough verification process, the committee chose six finalists.

The finalists this year cover a wide range of industries, functions, and countries around the globe. The first entry to present on Monday demonstrates the use of simulation models to save around $230 million over a ten-year period at Sasol Synfuels coal-to-liquids conversion facilities in South Africa.  The second entry describes the OR analyses and the politics that led to the implementation of optimization-based water release policies by the Delaware River Basin Commission. The third entry from Germany shows how OR models were used to increase the brand value of DHL by over a billion dollars in five years. The fourth discusses the use of single stage and multi-echelon inventory optimization techniques to reduce the investment in inventory at Proctor & Gamble by $1.5 billion. The fifth demonstrates the use of OR by INDEVAL, Mexico’s Securities Depository and Settlement System, to decrease daily liquidity requirements by $130 billion. The sixth entry reflects the development and deployment of OR-based tools at New Brunswick Department of Transportation to save over $70 million per year in maintaining 18,000 kilometers of roads. I look forward to their lively presentations on Monday.

Soft Skills Workshop

by Adam Clark

In Denver

T-2 days until the Soft Skill Workshop.  This year I decided to do a little extra and try the workshop.  While I am certainly interested in doing rigorous hard analysis, the idea that there is an appropriate  time and place for the soft skills speaks to me.  I am already wondering – how will I measure up in this area?  Will I find that I am proficient or in dire need of help (strongly suspect the latter).  I’ll be sure to pass on all the great advice that I receive!

Walt’s wORld

by Walt DeGrange

Hello my name is Walt DeGrange. I practice OR in the Navy and this is my second Practice Conference. My first one was two years ago in Baltimore. Enough about me…

I am going to try and take a little different angle on this year’s conference. I am going to attempt a behind the scenes look at the conference and see if there is any attempt to practice OR. Now I am not saying that we should use OR to analyze every task (although I am working on an optimization for tying my shoes) but rather open the aperture. Some of the stuff I intend to look into:

  • Conference scheduling – I am getting to the bottom of why everything I want to see is always on the morning of the second day.
  • Table serving during the Edelman Awards Ceremony – Surely there is a shortest path algorithm or traveling salesman somewhere.
  • The “Last Session” – I will attend one of the last sessions and see who the presenters are and who is attending (and why).

If anyone else has any ideas of stuff you want me to look into then comment below. I will try to honor all requests as time permits.

Hope everyone has safe travels and see you in Orlando!

Searching for OR

by Kevin Geraghty

There is always something new to play with on the Web. Once you are tired of your hamster gadget you can generate content with Google’s new search stories video generator.

Operations Research Practitioner

but it can’t touch this …

Hammer on Analytics

First Stop in the nortorious BFD world tour

by Mary Grace Crissey

Greetings to my friends at INFORMS – regretfully i will not be joining you in orlando Monday and Tuesday.  None the less, Allow me to introduce you to my coworker – Mike Gilliland who will be giving a keynote talk on Tuesday.  

Mike brings his 15 years experience as a business forecasting practitioner and consultant along with his good humor .   His first job was an Operations Research Analyst at Oscar Mayer Foods  see – he’s one of us :) .   After 10 years of developing forecasting, planning and reporting systems in the food industry, Mike spent two years as Global Forecasting Manager at consumer electronics maker Iomega Corporation (during the heyday of the Zip and Jaz drives), and then three and a half years as Director of Demand Management Solutions at the consulting company Answerthink. Mike returned to industry in 2002 as Director of Forecasting at Sara Lee Intimate Apparel (now Hanesbrands). He joined SAS in 2004. The title of my blog post here - does in fact relate to Mike’s talk on forecasting.  To see why, simply go to the post he has on the SAS blog


This may be his first INFORMS meeting, so please give him a hearty welcome.  He’s come a long way since his OR modeling for the foot-long hotdog company.   I’ve told him you are a friendly bunch - so please back me up on this!

3 days and counting…

by Peter Buczkowski

Hard to believe, but the kickoff for the Practice conference is less than 72 hours away.  The final program is quite impressive, and I’m struck by how vast and interesting our profession is.  During every timeslot I’d like to attend multiple talks!  I certainly hope you enjoy the conference and your time in my hometown.  The weather forecast is quite nice – high around 80 the whole week with a slight chance of rain.  Picture perfect conditions to spend some time in our parks before/after the event (sorry for the shameless plug). 

Here’s to a great conference!


Ready to Reconnect

by Adam Clark

There are many aspects of the INFORMS meetings that I look forward to.  I enjoy seeing how other professionals are solving problems.  I get to learn about their business and learn about O.R. as well.  I always wonder “If I were in their shoes – would I have thought of that method or solution?”  Maybe I would have, Maybe not – but now if I see a similar problem – I just might have another idea on how to solve it.

Even though I really enjoy learning, the piece I look forward to the most is reconnecting with folks from jobs past and building upon my network with folks that I will meet.  Because even though I may not always remember the details of the ‘cool application’ I will remember who I met and who I talked to.

Just a couple of weeks

by Ann Bixby

The 2010 meeting will be starting in less than 2 weeks and I’m really looking forward to some exciting presentations–especially from the Edelman finalist teams.

What keeps you up at night? Here’s your chance to vent, learn, and get some sleep.

by Gary Bennett

The INFORMS Conference on O.R. Practice has a pretty well-earned reputation for providing good opportunities to network and discuss common areas of interest in a casual setting.  The “birds of a feather” gatherings, as the organizers like to call them, allow you to sit down with snacks and a facilitator and focus in on topics you care about.  The organizers have come up with some interesting birds of a feather topics such as (1) selling and implementing O.R., (2) serving the general analytics market, (3) health care and humanitarian O.R., (4) O.R. in the hospitality, entertainment and other service industries, and (5) the job market for O.R. professionals.   Not bad, but I wonder if they have missed some hot topics.  What keeps you up at night?  Do you have something you’d like to get off your chest and find out how others are dealing with it?  Let us know what you’d like to see the birds take on.


by Shirley Mohr

We’re delighted that you will be joining us for the INFORMS Conference on Practice in Orlando, April 18-20.  Please review this important information to help make the most of the conference.

Hilton Bonnet Creek Hotel

All conference events will be held at the Hilton Bonnet Creek Resort at 14100 Bonnet Creek Resort Lane, Orlando, FL 32831; 1-407-722-3456.

Getting from the Airport to the Hotel

Mears Transportation provides shuttle service from the airport to the Hilton Bonnet Creek: $20 one-way, $33 round trip. Taxi service is about $55-60 one-way. Check here for information on Mears shuttle, a discount voucher and a link to make online reservations.

Registration Opens Sunday, 8:00am-7:00pm

When you arrive, please come to the INFORMS registration desk at the Conference Center of the Hilton (Lobby Level) to pick up your badge and registration materials. You’ll receive the final program, as well as a CD with speakers’ presentation slides. Registration hours on other days: Monday, 7:00am-6:30pm; Tuesday, 7:00am-3:00pm.

Pre-Conference Technology Workshops

Fourteen technology companies will offer half-day workshops on Sunday; these are free to conference registrants. If you haven’t signed up yet and would like to attend, come by the INFORMS registration desk to see if space is still available. Details at:

Soft-Skills Workshop, Sunday

This program provides information and practice in using the “soft skills” needed to work with business decision makers and analytics users. If you haven’t signed up yet and would like to attend, come by the INFORMS registration desk to see if space is still available. Details at:

Conference Schedule & Full Program Book

You can download and print out a PDF of the final conference schedule, showing the day and time of all sessions and events, and/or the full program brochure. Go to: For the schedule, click on “Program Matrix.” For the full brochure, click on the picture of the brochure. For information on speakers:

Panel on Supply Chain Management: View from the Executive Suite

Four senior executives will share their perspectives on issues and opportunities in supply chain management in this lively panel discussion on Monday afternoon. Don’t miss it!

NEW Poster Sessions

We’re serving up a delectable afternoon dessert each day …along with real-world case studies of O.R. in action. 25 poster presentations each day will give you an inside look at analytics work across a wide range of industries, problems and solutions. For details:

Networking Events

We’ve built many opportunities for networking into the program. Roundtable discussions, facilitated by INFORMS leaders and conference speakers, will be held during lunch on Monday and Tuesday.  A birds-of-a-feather session on Monday afternoon focuses on specific topics (this is one of the most popular aspects of the conference). Bring plenty of business cards!

New Attendee Reception

If this is your first INFORMS Practice Conference, we encourage you to stop by the New Attendee Reception for a brief orientation to the conference and the opportunity to connect with other first-timers and conference “veterans” in a small setting. Sunday, 5:30-6:30pm in the Orange Room (ground level of the Conference Center). This event is immediately followed by the Welcome Reception, 6:30-8:00pm, on the lobby level of the Conference Center.

Edelman Award Ceremony and Banquet

This gala celebration will honor the very best in applied operations research, as we salute past Edelman competitors, the 2010 finalists and announce the 2010 winner. The INFORMS Prize and Daniel H. Wagner Prize winners will also be announced. All seating will be reserved. You will receive a voucher in your registration packet, which you must exchange for a ticket during the day on Monday. At that time, you’ll also be asked to select a table. We’ll provide all the details on how to do this at the conference.

Exhibits and Software Tutorials

A listing of exhibitors is online now at

Software tutorial descriptions can be found at

What to Wear

Dress during the day and for the Sunday Welcome Reception is business casual. For the Edelman Awards Gala & Banquet on Monday evening, jacket and tie is preferred for men; women should dress for fine restaurant dining. We are counting on the weather in Orlando to be beautiful!  But no matter how warm it may be outside, hotel meeting rooms can be chilly – so bring a sweater or light jacket.  For an up-to-date weather report:

Please let us know if you have questions. We look forward to seeing you in Orlando!; 800-343-0062 or 401-722-2595 x200
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