Wagner Prize and Final Thoughts
It’s almost time to go home, which means it’s time for my last post. I made the mistake of leaving my laptop in the suitcase I stored at the hotel, so I’m writing from my phone, and I apologize in advance for any typos and bad formatting.
I had a great time at the conference this year: I engaged in productive work with co-authors, attended high-quality presentations, and met so many new people! My network of contacts has increased dramatically. Above all, I was very impressed with the attendance at the regular sessions. Almost packed rooms were the norm. That’s very encouraging for both session chairs and speakers.
Yesterday, before visiting the NASCAR museum, I had a chance to learn about MDP models for ambulance dispatching, location, and relocation, and finally got to shake hands with Laura McLay. I enjoy seeing non-deterministic problems being reduced to equivalent, deterministic ones, and I’m looking forward to reading Laura’s paper when it comes out. (I also need to learn more about MDPs in general.)
After that, I met with some tweeps on my way to photograph some NASCAR cars (strange sounding expression), and had the pleasure of shaking hands with Bjarni (INFORMS VP of IT), also for the first time. Bjarni’s energetic attitude is going to take INFORMS to the next level, where it deserves to be, so I want to congratulate him on his success so far.
I attended the Wagner plenary presented by Intel and I was very impressed by the complexity of their problem and the way they devised a multi-technique approach to tackle it. If anyone had any doubts about the effectiveness of genetic algorithms in practice (I never had), Intel’s successful implementation should dispel the remaining doubts. Here are a couple of interesting quotes I picked up from the presentation:
“We can fit 6 million transistors in the period at the end of this sentence, but not this monster period on the projector’s screen; think of the period at the end of a sentence on a printed newspaper article.”
“Intel became a fifty-billion-dollar corporation using spreadsheets for a lot of its decision making!” (I feel better about my MBA teaching tools now :-)
Well, not any more. The integrated decision support system that they developed is gradually changing Intel’s decision making from distributed local views to a more global and collaborative approach, with increased what-if analysis capabilities. Congratulations to this year’s finalists, and especially to Intel!
I still have some interesting talks to see in sessions WD15, WD19, WE20, and WE24, but for those of you who need to head home early, have a safe trip! See you next year in Phoenix!