The optimization community had some big losses this year with the passing of giants such as Shabbir Ahmed and Egon Balas. I only met Shabbir in person in some of the conferences that I attended during my doctoral years. I still remember how much time he spent talking to me the first time that I presented a poster at the MIP workshop. He was always accessible, engaging, and willing to offer some advice.
When a big conference is about to start, Shabbir comes to my mind because of his word clouds of abstracts. For example, precisely two years ago he observed that model was used more often than data in the INFORMS 2017 abstracts:
model > data in a cloud of specific words from the @INFORMS2017 abstracts pic.twitter.com/nKFZ79ZHrw
— Shabbir Ahmed (@Shabbir0Ahmed) October 21, 2017
Thanks to some help from Mary Leszczynski and WordArt.com, I came up with a word cloud for talk titles at INFORMS 2019. This year, “model” showed up 363 times and “data” showed up 420 times. However, if we also account for “models”, the tally goes up to 551. Therefore, Shabbir’s observation that model > data also holds for INFORMS 2019.