It was a very good Monday, ladies and gentlemen. I know I’m a bit (a lot) late with this post, but after enjoying the Traveling Salesman movie yesterday night, I was too tired to blog about my Monday activities. But here it is; better late than never!
I really enjoyed attending MA22: Generic Branch-and-Price Solvers. I didn’t know there was so much activity in that direction. The good thing is that the community of developers can learn and benefit from each other. On the other hand, as someone who is planning to use one of these packages in the near future, it will take me a while to sort through all the packages and pick the one that suits me best. So here goes a suggestion to the developers of GCG, DIP/DipPy, SAS Decomposition Solver, BaPCod (and others): would it be possible for you to build a comparison table? One row for every feature, one column for every package, and a checkmark in cell (i,j) of this table if package j implements feature i (with added footnotes to clarify technicalities when appropriate). I believe this would be very helpful.
BTW: You gotta love Ted Ralphs‘s choices of acronyms. “DIP and CHiPPS” was a clever one! I already know what my wife will say when she reads this: “You’re so food motivated…” I know! Speaking of food, after having a tough time eating a decent lunch on Sunday, I changed my strategy: have a large breakfast like the one on the left, and a quick small lunch.
Then came Bill Pulleyblank’s plenary. George Nemhauser introduced Bill and showed two interesting photos. The first was this one, of a young Pulleyblank:
After which George said (approximate quote): “Look at those eyes…you can tell he was already thinking about graphs and matchings.” I have to agree. You can tell the intellectual curiosity is there. The next photo, which I don’t have, is of Bill acting in a movie called “Wolf Boy”. I had no idea Bill was an actor, but it quickly became clear he’s very talented in front of an audience. His presentation had the perfect combination of interesting information and witty jokes.
Although most of us know what Erdos numbers are, not many people know about the Bacon number. It works just like the Erdos number, but rather than indicating how many co-authors one is away from Erdos in terms of published papers, it indicates how many co-actors one is away from Kevin Bacon in terms of movie appearances. By now you know where I’m going. The big question is: what is Bill Pulleyblank’s Erdos-Bacon number? (the sum of the two numbers). By using this site, I discovered that Bill’s Bacon number is at most 2. And this site tells me Bill’s Erdos number is 2. Therefore his Erdos-Bacon number is at most 4! Amazing! I want a finite Bacon number. Suggestion to INFORMS: can you please make a movie in which Bill Pulleyblank is the main actor and everyone else has a non-speaking part?
My next visit was to session MB29: the panel discussion on Bringing OR into the 21st Century with Social Networking and Web 2.0 Tools. If you’ve watched my video, this is the session I refer to in the second segment. I really enjoyed this session too. There were some very interesting tips, tricks, and perspectives from a number of different bloggers on their use of Twitter, WordPress, OR-Exchange, Facebook, LinkedIn, and more, with pros, cons, do’s and don’ts. Bjarni videotaped the session, so, if you missed it, he’s probably going to make the video available online somewhere. If you’re already part of this online world, or are thinking of joining it, this is a very useful resource. Interestingly, after the session, everyone started trying to guilt me into organizing next year’s edition of it. I’m not sure why.
This post is getting too long, so let me wrap it up. I also attended MC22, Tools and Techniques for Modeling with Python, which I’ve been considering getting into. It looks like Python makes a lot of things much more effortless than C++. I just have to gather some courage and take the plunge. Last but not least, I checked out MD17, Business Analytics Curriculum in Higher Education. I’m trying to put together an elective MBA class on Data Mining, which could perhaps be the first step of a broader analytics curriculum at my school. It was interesting to see what other schools are doing and what their curricula consist of. I now have some interesting pointers that I can further investigate after I return to the sunshine state (though there’s plenty of sunshine here as well).
To conclude, I want to leave you with two interesting/thought-provoking slides from Bill Pulleyblank’s plenary. Enjoy!