And now for something completely different
Each of the last two days I essentially did a word search through the program for anything finance-y and put it up on the calendar. I got largely what I expected, a great deal of elaborate machinations through PDE’s, simulation algorithms and pricing routines that were, by and large, quite nice. By the end of the day yesterday, however, I was one more Laplace transform away from my head exploding; it was time for something new. So, last night I looked at the listings and decided to get out of my comfort zone; I put Open Source Solvers and Modeling Languages into my 11 am slot and Selling Analytics: A Multi-Industry Panel Discussion in at 1:30 pm.
While I appreciate open source projects and software development (I’ve contributed to a project here and there in the past), I’m more or less a hack and my research is certainly not “optimal implementation” based. Sitting in on a discussion of advances in open source contributions was definitely not what I envisioned when I arrived on Saturday, so it fit the bill as a change of pace. By the end of the 90 minutes there was no doubt in my mind that it was the most entertaining session I sat through. The work being done was impressive, the presenters were quite good and the tools were all interesting and helpful. A former coworker of mine who was the network admin for the company said that developers do their most inspired work for free and used open source contributors as well as hackers as his examples. Today I add the 11 am session to proof of this notion.
Second least important award of INFORMS: Best Session According to Rob is … “Open Source Solvers and Modeling Languages”
The panel discussion in the afternoon was just as entertaining. While I was more observer and less contributor to the discussion (shyness) I enjoyed listening to insight that I certainly could have used 4.5 years ago when I started my brief stint in industry. There are lots of people who need analytics and very few who know it. The panel that was assembled was a group experienced in the ways of gently getting people to see the light. The audience was largely practitioners who shared my former plight of having to build trust in the math among nontechnical users. All in all, it was an enjoyable session.
Newbie’s second lesson: Mix it up. You’ll end up reading the papers in your field anyway, so branch out and learn something new.
Now it is time to do the final edits to my slides and get ready for the reception. Oh, and grade some homeworks.