Does your library have all the INFORMS Journals?

INFORMS is running a grass-roots effort to get more libraries to carry INFORMS journals. They have a neat setup that you can check if your (university) library carries every journal. You can even email your librarian to encourage subscriptions.

Most libraries are cutting back on journals, partially due to some extremely high prices on journals. INFORMS journals, being published by INFORMS, are quite reasonably priced, but of very high quality. Every library should have them!

Initial Plans for INFORMS 2006

Now that INFORMS 2005 New Orleans/San Francisco is over, it is the Pittsburgh crowd’s turn to put together INFORMS 2006. We are well on the way planning, with a list of tutorials and invited sessions that I think will be very good.

The theme of the conference in OR Renaissance, and we hope to highlight some of the exciting new directions and applications for OR/MS. We’ll have some new things in store for 2006 including

1) A new Tuesday reception, planned for PNC Park, the site of the 2006 MLB All-Star game.

2) “Renaissance Sessions”, highlighting the best of where OR will be in 5 years.

3) Plans for a revamped awards ceremony.

The Monday General Reception will be at the wonderful Carnegie Museums: the Museum of Art and the Museum of Natural History (they are connected).

The conference will be November 5-8, 2006. If you have some thoughts on how INFORMS conferences could be made better, I’d love to hear them. Comment here or mail to me.


I just got back from the INFORMS Award ceremonies. Some of the highlights:

1) John von Neumann Theory Prize went to Robert Aumann, who also won the Nobel Prize in Economics this year. The committee picked Aumann before the Nobel Prize was announced. Pretty good year for Robert!

2) The Lanchester Prize (best publication in English) went to Garrett van Ryzin and Kalyan Talluri for their Revenue Management book.

3) Peter Bell of the University of Western Ontario won the INFORMS Prize for the Teaching of OR/MS Practice. Peter has worked a lot on cases in OR/MS.

There were a number of other prizes. I am sure the INFORMS Prize web page will have these shortly.

Luk Van Wassenhove and IFORS Distinguished Lecturer

Luk Van Wassenhove was the IFORS Distinguished Lecturer at this year’s INFORMS conference. Here he is receiving congratulations from Tom Magnanti (right), President of IFORS.

Luk spoke on “Closed Loop Supply Chains: Past, Present, and Future”. Closed-loop supply chains are those where the supply chain bringing goods from consumers back to suppliers is also important. Luk gave an interesting historical perspective on this rather young field. He suggested that the field has gone through 5 phases:

1) Technical remanufacturing. Research into how to best remanufacture/resuse returned items, with little regard to how they come back or where they go after remanufacturing.

2) Valuing reverse logistics. Research and interest in how items coming back to a supplier can create value for that supplier. These models are more market driven than just waste stream recovery, and address the front end acquisition of items.

3) Coordinating decisions, bringing the forward supply chain together with the reverse supply chain. Once the magnitude of the problem is realized, the reverse chain impacts the forward chain, and vice versa.

4) Closing the loop, with dynamic decisions over the lifecycle of products. One aspect of this is the need to spend money to make money. Consider a “recycled” computer: one that is only a few weeks old is much more valuable than one that is months old. In such a case, investments might need to be made to increase the speed of the reverse supply chain.

5) The final phase of research, which perhaps should have been the first one, is “Is there a market”? While this area has increased in academic stature, and there are visible, but isolated, examples in practice, how can these insights be embedded in real firms. This brings in issues of accounting (how should returns be valued) and marketing (how should cannibalism be handled between original and remanufactured products)?

This was an ideal plenary session: broad, understandable and interesting.

Heading off to San Francisco …

for the INFORMS Conference (originally planned for New Orleans). US Airways cut back their direct flights from Pittsburgh, so it is through Minneapolis I go. I’ll try to post some of the interesting things I see at the conference (if I can get out of the bar long enough: see my comments on social capital below).

Thoughts on fun things to do in San Francisco? I think blues is on the agenda for Saturday evening.

Gary Lorden at INFORMS

Most of the time, I can recognize the plenary speakers at INFORMS conferences, at least by name. The INFORMS San Francisco (nee New Orleans) conference has a guy named Gary Lorden speaking. Gary Lorden? Who the heck is he?

It turns out Gary is the mathematical advisor for the TV show Numb3rs, a crime show whose solution is generally based on mathematics of some sort. I found a review of one of his previous lectures: it sounds like it will be a blast! All the more reason to stay through Wednesday in San Fran.

INFORMS San Francisco

Due to the hurricane, the INFORMS Meeting in November has been switched from New Orleans to San Francisco. It amazes me that a three thousand person meeting can be switched with such apparent ease. I am chairing the 2006 meeting in Pittsburgh: we have been working and planning on things for 2 years now. The thought of having to change everything three months before the conference is very scary. There is a great article in the October, 2005 issue of OR/MS Today on the planning for the switch (it wasn’t as easy as it looks). We almost ended up in Kansas City (which would have been OK, but I prefer SF).