INFORMS Annual Conference  

INFORMS Annual Meeting 2012, Phoenix, AZ, October 14-17

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Some Cool Things I Learned on Sunday

by Tallys Yunes on October 15th, 2012
  • Because cancer tumors typically are not well vascularized, chemotherapy can sometimes be ineffective (not enough blood vessels to take the drugs where they need to be). One idea is to load magnetic nanoparticles with drugs and use two body-sized magnets on each side of the patient to move these particles (and therefore the drugs) inside the patient’s body. Some of the research questions are: what should be the direction and duration of the magnetic fields?
  • Some companies have created web sites on which they display products they’re considering making (but aren’t making yet) and allow customers to vote for them (e.g. clothing and furniture). Some of the research questions are: how long should voting be kept open? And should the company offer monetary incentives (e.g. discounts) to elicit more votes?
  • On some web sites where those large banner ads appear at the top of the page, companies run real-time auctions behind the scenes to determine which advertiser will earn the right to show their ad. It all happens so fast that four such auctions can be conducted during the time it takes you to blink.
  • Robert Vanderbei’s work on high-contrast imaging for planet finding is AWESOME! How to design filters to be placed in front of telescopes so that stars (whose light makes them 10 billion times brighter than the planets close to them) don’t get in the way of our seeing the planets? NASA is likely to use his work in their next generation telescope!
  • One of the most challenging problems in humanitarian logistics is the last-mile delivery of goods. In addition, although a lot of research has been conducted on preparedness and response to disasters, the post-response recovery phase has received a lot less attention (e.g. debris management, restoration of infrastructure).
  • There is now a proof that every LP formulation of the TSP (and a few other problems) must have super-polynomial size. (No need to wonder about a bunch of “proofs” of P=NP any more.)

Not nearly as cool but relevant:

  • It’s very rewarding when people approach you and say they read your blog on a regular basis and had fun watching your goofy video. Thank you all for your support and encouragement.
  • The chairs in room C-West 207 are *very* comfortable.
  • The water in my hotel room isn’t very good at rinsing soap.
  • One hour for lunch isn’t nearly enough if you don’t know where you’re eating in advance, especially because long lines form quickly. Add vegetarianism to that equation for an extra layer of fun.