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Aurelie Thiele on Operations Research

Aurelie Thiele of Lehigh has a wide-ranging blog on “Thoughts on business, engineering and higher education”. Many of her posts are on operations research. I particularly liked her thoughtful piece on the role operations research plays in the Grand Challenges in Engineering. The leadership of INFORMS put together a white paper on the subject, which I wrote about a while ago. Aurelie takes issue with the fragmented aspect of the proposed role:

The applications-driven paper lacks the unifying theme that a focus on information management would have provided, and instead OR comes across as an add-on to other people’s expertise – certainly valuable, but not critical. I’m not sure why anyone would want to be portrayed as jack of all trades but master of none… The authors also miss the opportunity to portray operations researchers as the center of inter-disciplinary teams bringing scientists from various disciplines together, drawing from their experience in one area to help researchers in another. When I finished reading the paper I wasn’t particularly excited to be working in the field, but I give the authors credit for trying – marketing OR is an uphill battle, given the aversion to math of most regular folks, and every little thing helps.

I have been struggling with many of this very issue during my year in New Zealand (since I have had the opportunity to give a number of “big picture” talks). Is OR just a collection of tools that we jealously guard or is there more commonality amongst us? And are we critical, or just a bit of sprinkle on top of the ice cream sundae? Of course, I remain excited by the field, and reading the rest of the blog, I think Aurelie does also.

Aurelie has been blogging since March: I can’t believe it took me so long to stumble across this excellent blog. Check it out!

{ 2 } Comments

  1. Aurelie Thiele | November 1, 2007 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

    This morning I noticed a lot of traffic coming to my blog from yours, so I couldn’t resist checking what was going on… Thanks so much for the post!
    -Aurelie

  2. Michael Trick | November 1, 2007 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

    You are welcome! We need more OR blogging.