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The Baa-readth of Operations Research

At the recent International Federation of Operational Research Society (IFORS) meeting in Barcelona (a fabulous conference, by the way), I had the honor of being nominated as President of that “society of societies”.  If elected, my term will start January 1, 2016, so I get a bit of a head start in planning. I was […]

Optimization, Operations Research and the Edelman Prize

This year, I have the distinct honor of chairing the committee to award the Franz Edelman Award, given out by INFORMS for the best work that “attests to the contributions of operations research and analytics in both the profit and non-profit sectors”.  This competition has been incredibly inspiring to me throughout my career.  Just this […]

Easy and Hard Problems in Practice

David Eppstein of the blog 0xde has a list of his top 10 preprints in algorithms in 2012.  One particularly caught my eye: Clustering is difficult only when it does not matter, Amit Daniely, Nati Linial, and Michael Saks,  arXiv:1205.4891. […] this represents a move from worst-case complexity towards something more instance-based. The main idea […]

The Plight of the Traveling Politician

Bill Cook, Professor at Georgia Tech, has an article in the “Campaign Stops” blog of the New York Times outlining the plight of the candidates vying for the Republican nomination for the U.S. presidency currently campaigning in Iowa.  It is a quirk of American politics that  a small state can take on outsized importance in […]

Grizzlies, Pandas, and Optimal Ecological Structures

Last year, a group of students in one of my classes did a project on designing a grizzly bear habitat, inspired by the work at Cornell’s wonderful Institute for Computational Sustainability. In that project, the goal was to pick out a collection of geographic areas that formed a contiguous zone that the grizzly’s could move […]

The Importance of Accurate Data

I have been spending the last couple of weeks assigning faculty to courses and helping staff think about scheduling issues. I wish I could say that I have been using operations research techniques to do this sort of work. After all, most of my work has been in some form of timetabling optimization. But that […]

Explaining Operations Research to, and being, a Muggle

In J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books, “Muggles” are people who have no magical ability, and, indeed, no knowledge of the magical world.  The term “Muggle” is not exactly a compliment, and veers towards a pejorative.  From the first book: Hagrid: “I’d like ter see a great Muggle like you stop him,” Harry: “A what?” Hagrid: […]

Algorithmic Pricing

The Twitterverse is giggling over some of the absurd pricing for some used books at Amazon (Panos Ipeirotis and Golan Levin were two  who tweeted on the subject).  There are books at Amazon where the price is in the millions of dollars!  How can such a thing happen? While I love the picture of an […]

The Appeal of Operations Research and Sports

For a more recent comment on MLB scheduling and the Stephensons see my response to the 30 for 30 video. The relationship between operations research and sports is one topic that I return to often on this site.    This is not surprising:  I am co-owner of a small sports scheduling company that provides schedules to […]

New Article at the OR Forum

There is a new article at the the OR Forum (part of the journal Operations Research) on High Leverage Interventions: how can operations research have more impact? David Lane of the London School of Economics describes three historical cases and draws some conclusions from them for today’s issues. You can read the paper and the […]