This year, INFORMS Annual Meeting is overlapping with the presentation of the Nobel Prizes. It’s exciting to see each award come out, and as many of you know, the Nobel Prize in Economics has occasionally had an Operations connection. But it also has me wondering; in what ways is Operations connecting with the dominant trends in the greater world of science?
For example, at INFORMS, one of the talks I attended was on genetics. It was given by Nicos Nicolaou. He and several colleagues had written a 2008 Management Science paper on “Is the Tendency to Engage in Entrepreneurship Genetic?.” This paper had won an award from the Technology Management Section, and Nicos was explaining further work done in the field. The work also received favorable attention in articles appearing in Forbes, Money @CNN, and other popular online business portals.
I was glad to see some work in genetics represented at INFORMS, given the way that genetics seems to be advancing so quickly as a science. I’m now also curious as to whether advancements in neuroscience hold any promise for Operations research. In your opinion, what scientific advancements or fields do you think could benefit Operations work? I like using Wednesday blogs at INFORMS for more whimsical, futuristic ideas. I’d be curious as to what some members think on this topic.
Jim Cochran mentioned the inaugural speed networking event. I attended, and I sure hope it is repeated next year. (In a bit of irony, I connected with a potential collaborator minutes before setting out to the event, but by next meeting I will likely be “in the market” again.) Speed networking is more challenging to manage, due to multiplicity and complexity of criteria for matching, than is speed dating (a bipartite matching problem). I anticipate there will be some process tuning before the next run, but I am confident that the feedback was positive, and I really believe it can provide a valuable service. Meanwhile, I enjoyed the session – time well spent.
As part of the pre-INFORMS festivities, I took in a talk by Barry Kudrowitz, a professor of product design at the University of Minnesota, on the role of play in innovation. Part of the presentation involved an audience challenge where we were asked to figure out as many uses as possible for a paper clip. Barry went on to survey us on whether we had seen the exercise as work or play. As you might have guessed, those who saw the exercise as work had fewer ideas than those who saw it as play. However, would the detailed work needed for operations benefit from a playful approach?
There seems to be a disconnect between words like “play” “creativity” “improvisation”, and the STEM fields. We certainly know colleagues (or ourselves) who are filled with joy when they discuss their research, or show great passion in the classroom. But, there’s also a sense that improvisation is the enemy of rigor and the scientific method. Perhaps, as well, words like “play” sound too immature and informal.
So then, what are your thoughts on playfulness and creativity in Operations? Have you found that a more light approach to your research and teaching improve your work, or lower your efficiency?
Terrific day – the workshop for high school teachers was filled with enthusiastic participants, the INFORM-ED session at 1:30 was great, and the new speed networking session put together by the WORMS, MIF, and JFIG was very well attended and received. I look forward to the INFORM-ED panel on teaching data mining tomorrow morning at 8:00 a.m. (and to the meeting next year in San Francisco).
The senior math specialist for the state of MN attended our workshop today.
As a result of teacher reaction and her own observations, she feels there will be enough interest to run a 4 day training workshop in summer 2014.
Many of today’s teachers already plan on replacing the sterile LP examples in all of their texts with our more complete examples and utilize Solver to handle more realistic sized examples. A number will begin exploring what it will take to launch an entire semester course in their school within the next 2 years.
I talked with one of Purdue IE faculty, Ji Soo Yi, about his work and I attended his talk today.
Even though I missed the first half of his talk, I found what he and his team did could be a great help to professors who teach mathematical programming, especially linear programming, in undergraduate.
This is still a beta version but, it has some cool features for instructor. You can create your own problems, and send them out to your students as homework. (save your time or make your homework look more fancy)
The link is the following
or google ‘Purdue POET’
You will be asked to create an account and need to sign in as an instructor, in order to create new problems and/or homework.
I am going to release the solution of homework I gave to my students thru this tool, so that students can find the solution by trying to type in the right answer.
Take a look and you will see how you can utilize this in your class.
Jim is a long time friend from the INFORMS ROUNDTABLE. He brought a business perspective about the value of OR in his previous position and Land O’ Lakes. He could talk about the challenges of thousands of suppliers, products and customers and the huge impact OR had when integrating a new acquisition. He answered questions about the skills that industry is seeking in new hires.
We wish Jim all of the best in his recent career change to FICO.
Two of my doctoral students, Mani and Mahdohkt, met with Dick to discuss developing a blended activity involving MCDA. The video would start with the tossing oranges and apples while wondering who says you cannot compare Apples and Oranges. The core example in the activity will be around selecting an individual to join some team effort. The specifics will be worked out within the next few months.
Mani and Mahdohkt committed to delivering a finished product next May.
This is the start of cross fertilization between our efforts and MIT’s Blended Learning program BLOSSOMS.
Jim ran the second part of the HS OR program. He began by sharing his world wide experiences as part of “Statisticians without borders” He is currently working on reducing infant mortality in displaced person camps in the Sudan.
He introduced them to linear programming with a hands on lego example. This activity is critical to helping students concretize the concepts of decision variables, objectives, and constraints (the number of lego pieces). He also demonstrated shadow by offering to sell one more Lego piece for 2 dollars. He then introduced a more complex example involving skateboard production and engaged them in discovering the corner point principle. He also showed why an integer constraint makes the problem more difficult.
Carl and I spoke extensively about our different but complementary missions in bringing elements of our profession to the high school community. Their focus is on working with students directly and around the broad area of decision making skills. Their material is supplementary to a standard curriculum. We focus on teachers and bring OR into a standard HS math curriculum. We compared and contrasted our relative successes. We look forward to future collaborations between our respective groups.