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Stephen Baker on Operations Research

Stephen Baker, the author of the Business Week cover story on how Math Will Rock Your World, is rapidly becoming a highly visible writer about Operations Research. His May 4 blog entry, entitled “Why journalists don’t cover how things work” had some comments on his experience at the INFORMS Practice Conference:

At the O.R. conference (the association is called INFORMS), there were far too many interesting presentations for one person to cover them all. The people behind operations at Intel, IBM, the Army, Ford and plenty of others provided inside looks. Beat reporters of those companies could have feasted on these lectures. But they weren’t there.

Why? The press covers news, stocks, companies and personalities. But try pitching a cover story on operations. People think it’s … boring. Trouble is, if we want to know where things are going, we have to understand how they work. And when the process is transformative, as it often is in OR, there’s nothing boring about it. The winner of the annual Informs Franz Edelman award, by the way, was the Warner Robins Air Logistics Center. They overhauled the maintenance of jumbo C-5 transport aircraft, reducing repair time by 33%. This means that these monsters, which cost taxpayers $2.3 billion each, spend more time in the air and less time in the shop.

If Stephen keeps this up, we may see lots more press coverage.

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  1. […] all the ways mathematics is affecting business and even mentioned operations research by name. He attended our conferences, and worked some of our stories into the bestselling book “The […]