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The Magical Places Operations Research Can Take You

Art Benjamin of Harvey Mudd College has an article in this week’s Education Life section of the New York Times where he gives ten mathematical tricks.

I first met Art in the late 80s at, I believe, a doctoral colloquium sponsored by ORSA/TIMS (now INFORMS). Art was clearly a star: he won the Nicholson Prize (Best Student Paper) in 1988. If he had stuck with the “normal path” of being an academic researcher, I have no doubt that he would now be well known in operations research academia.

But his real passion was lightning calculation and other forms of mathematical magic and in keeping with that path, he has made himself even better known to a much broader audience. He has published three books aimed at the general audience, including one that was a Book-of-the-Month Club selection (is this unique in operations research?). He has an amazing act that he performs for a wide range of audiences.

His research has moved out of operations research  into combinatorics and combinatorial games (though these areas have a lot of overlap with OR), where he publishes prolifically and has two books aimed at professionals. His book “Proofs that Really Count” (along with Jennifer Quinn) is a great introduction to combinatorial proofs.

Art is another example of the variety of paths you can take after an operations research degree.

{ 1 } Comments

  1. Brian Borchers | January 3, 2010 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

    I’ll just add that he’s outstanding speaker- if you get a chance to see one of his presentations at a conference, go!