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{ Monthly Archives } July 2009

Careful with Wolfram|Alpha

Wolfram|Alpha is an interesting service. It is not a search engine per se. If you ask it “What is Operations Research” it draws a blank (*) (mimicking most of the world) and if you ask it “Who is Michael Trick” it returns information on two movies “Michael” and “Trick” (*). But if you give it […]

How to Design a Contest: The Netflix Challenge

It looks like the Netflix people made some good decisions when they designed their million dollar challenge. In particular, it appears that they kept two verification test sets: one that was the basis for the public standings and one that no one ever saw the results from. It is the success on the latter set […]


INFORMS 2009 San Diego, CA October 11-14, 2009

Constraint Programming 2009

CP 2009 Lisbon, Portugal September 20-24, 2009

Three City Traveling Salesman Problem Solved by Bacteria!

A Guardian (London) article has the provocative title “Bacteria make computers look like pocket calculators” (thanks Hamish for the pointer). They report on how bacteria can be used to search through feasible solutions to the traveling salesman problem to find optimal solutions: The research, published today in the Journal of Biological Engineering, proves that bacteria […]

Usage and Reddit

For the most part, I don’t live or die on the number of readers of this blog.  I’m not making money off this, so extra readers don’t  have a direct effect.  Of course, I am gratified that people want to read this:  since one of my goals is to make operations research more famous, it […]

P=NP …

… or not. About 20 years ago, I attended a summer program at RUTCOR (the OR center at Rutgers) called, I believe, ARIDAM (Advanced Research Institute in Discrete Applied Mathematics?  Something like that).  It was a great few weeks:  I learned a lot and met a number of people for the first time who I […]

OR Forum Paper on Retailing

The OR Forum (part of the journal Operations Research) has just put out a new paper:  Marshall Fisher on “Rocket Science Retailing”: In the May-June, 2009 issue of Operations Research, Marshall Fisher, UPS Transportation Professor for the Private Sector at the Wharton School, discusses his experiences with the Consortium for Operational Excellence in Retailing. This […]

The Perils of “Statistical Significance”

As someone who teaches data mining, which I see as part of operations research, I often talk about what sort of results are worth changing decisions over.  Statistical significance is not the same as changing decisions.  For instance, knowing that a rare event is 3 times more likely to occur under certain circumstances might be […]

IFORS Distinguished Lecturer Christos Papadimitriou

Christos Papadimitriou of UC Berkeley was the IFORS Distinguished Lecturer at the EURO Meeting yesterday (in the fuzzy picture, he is getting his award from IFORS President Elise del Rosario), and gave a very fine lecture on “Computing Equilibria” (and Sex, though that was not in the formal title).   The starting point for his lecture […]