As I sit in a jet-lagged haze in a Beijing hotel,thoughts naturally turn to …. more travel! The opportunity to travel all around the world is a great bonus of academia. And while I think I have taken this bonus to extremes (I am not sure academics should really be at the highest tiers of frequent fliers), it is nice to visit new places, see new sights, and meet new people.
In operations research, we have a tremendous number of conferences all around the world. It is clear from things like the INFORMS Conference Calendar that a suitably enthusiastic, and financed, researcher could simply spend his or her life bopping around to conferences. For me, this is limited by a couple of things: first, I have an administrative role now, and if I am not around then …. well, I’m not sure what happens, but I feel I should be around. Second, my family already asks for my business card when I return to remind them of who I am. I do not want to make this even worse.
But I do have a few trips planned:
- INFORMS Business Analytics and Operations Research (April 14-16). A great conference, worth the higher-than-average cost. I’m a judge at the Edelman’s again which has the plus side that I get to watch the Edelman presentations from a front-row seat, and I have read the papers beforehand. On the downside, I don’t get to attend many of the other presentations. I always come back with a class or two of material for my courses.
- EURO 2012 (July 8-11). I like the EURO conferences: they are like INFORMS conferences, though somewhat smaller. This year’s conference is in Vilnius, Lithuania, so I get to visit a new-to-me country. Further, I am on the committee for the 2013 conference in Rome, so this conference is not really optional. On the downside, getting to Vilnius is not the easiest! I wish I had booked some flights when I first looked a month ago: those flights are now full and the real power of revenue management is coming to bear on the other flights. How much can airlines squeeze out of 2000 operations researchers?
- MOPTA (July 30-August 1). Held at Lehigh University, this conference has the advantage that I can drive to it (take that, revenue management maximizers!). Held for a number of years at McMaster University in Canada, this conference has moved to Lehigh and brings together continuous, discrete, and stochastic optimizers in both theory and practice. I’ll be talking about some of the optimization we use in sports scheduling.
- Matheuristics (September 16-21) at a beach outside of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. It’s a beach, it’s Rio, it combines mathematical optimization with heuristics. Need I say more?
There are a lot more conferences that I would like to attend, both big and small. INFORMS Beijing would be great to attend, but I was in Beijing in November and again right now (for academic administration reasons) so a third trip in 8 months would be too much. PATAT (Practice and Theory of Automated Timetabling) is a series I like very much and is in Oslo, a city I like to visit, but it occurs this year at the start of term so I have to stay in Pittsburgh so that …. again, I’m not sure why I need to academically administrate at that time, but it appears I do. CPAIOR (Constraint Programming, Artificial Intelligence, and Operations Research) is in Nantes, France this year (May 28 – June 1) but is not close enough in timing to the Vilnius EURO conference. Similarly, it is hard not to attend the big International Symposium on Mathematical Programming Symposium in Berlin, but it too is too long after Vilnius and too close to the start of school.
And there are a few conferences in the fall that I am thinking about: Constraint Programming is in Quebec City (a trés bon place to visit!) October 8-12. Computational Social Choice is another interest of mine and will be held in Krakow, Poland September 11-13. Chances are pretty good I’ll be at the main INFORMS Conference in Phoenix October 14-17 (hmmm… I wonder how the flights are from Quebec City to Phoenix): I never miss the chance to get together with 4000 of my closest friends!
I think I’m going to need some optimization models to help choose conferences!