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{ Category Archives } Sports

Touring the Rio Olympics

I’m a sportswriter who is bound for the Olympics, and I’m writing an article about maximizing the number of events I see in a particular day. I thought the input of a mathematician with expertise in these matters would be helpful to the story. This was an interesting start to day a month ago.  I […]

Russia really owned this podium

Back in 2010, Canada’s  goal was to “own the podium” at the Winter Olympics.  What “owning the podium” meant was open to interpretation.  Some argued for “most gold medals”; others opted for “most overall medals”; still others had point values for the different types of medals.  Some argued for normalizing by population (which was won, […]

Scheduling Major League Baseball

ESPN has a new “30 for 30” short video on the scheduling of Major League Baseball.  In the video, they outline the story of Henry and Holly Stephenson who provided Major League Baseball with its schedule for twenty-five years.  They were eventually supplanted by some people with a computer program.  Those people are Doug Bureman, […]

The Pirates have not clinched a non-losing season

The newspapers here are full of news that the Pittsburgh Pirates (Major League Baseball) have broken a twenty-year reign of mediocrity by guaranteeing a non-losing season.  Since they have won 81 games in a 162 game season, that seems self-evident. But those of us in operations research know enough to check out the details before […]

The Golden Ticket

I picked up Lance Fortnow’s new book The Golden Ticket: P, NP and the Search for the Impossible.  Lance is chair of the School of Computer Science at my alma mater Georgia Tech (I got my PhD there in Industrial Engineering) and the co-author of the excellent Computational Complexity blog. The title of the book comes […]

Operations Research and a Baseball Job

Analytics is getting to be more and more important in sports, and sports teams and leagues are looking to people with analytical skills to fill key roles in their organizations.   The MIT Sports Analytics conference is a big deal, attracting more than 2000 attendees, with an active job placement service.  The MBAs at my […]

Owning the Podium: Summer 2012 edition

During the last winter Olympics, I had what I thought was a pretty good idea.  There are many ways to rank countries during the Olympics:  you can rank them by total number of medals, or you can rank them by number of gold medals, or by some point scheme (5 for gold, 3 for silver, […]

Sports with a vague Operations Research connection

It is pretty clear that academic administration and blogging are perfect substitutes, at least in regard to time, if not satisfaction.  After having an easy period earlier in the year when I racked up a dozen blog posts, administrative needs sucked up all my time, leading to the buildup of dust-bunnies at Ye Olde Blog. […]

Benchmarks: Coloring, Sports and Umpires

I have always felt strongly that operations research needs more libraries of instances for various problem classes, along with listings of current best solutions.  By tracking how well we solve problems over time, we can show how we advance as a field.  It also makes it easier to evaluate new work, making both authors and […]

Operations Research: The Sort of Decisions That Will Get You Fired

I just saw an ad for “Moneyball”, a new movie based on the book by Michael Lewis. A baseball manager (Billy Beane of the Oakland Athletics) used analytics (“Sabremetrics” in the baseball world) to choose players who were undervalued by the rest of the baseball world.  Beane had a constrained optimization problem:  he had to […]