Let’s Energize the Future: INFORMS 2010

November 5, 2010

It’s just been too long since I last blogged.  INFORMS is always very exciting and it’s about to start.  And… it’s in one of my favorite cities this time: Austin, TX.   I’m looking forward to the conference, being in Austin again and seeing my alma mater, professors and friends.

Link to:  Official Conference Blog

A Question: Does anyone know of an app to make your own conference schedule?  Or… Is there a way to add the itinerary one creates using the “Search the Program” and put it in the iPhone (or, other) calendar?  That would come in very handy and also help for a more ‘green’ conference.


Hello INFORMS 2009

October 11, 2009

INFORMS is in full swing.  Check out the conference Blog Central for up close and personal views.

So much talk recently about the Nobel prize.  Did you know that tomorrow (Mon) at INFORMS, you can see a Nobel Laureate speak?   Harry Markowitz .  Here is the session info.

Markowitz is also the recipient of the John von Neumann Prize.  Today, 2009 recipients were awarded: Yurii Nesterov (Catholic University of Louvain) and Yinyu Ye (Stanford University).

See also other awards. Congratulations to all award recipients!

Best Job in America: Systems Engineer

October 9, 2009

According to CNN Money, Systems Engineers have the best job in America! They estimate the job growth in this field at about 45% over the next 10 years. Take a look at the full list of the top 5o jobs. You can examine them in terms of the quality of life, median salary, benefit to society, job satisfaction, future growth potential and more.

Search Trends: Stochastic Programming

July 27, 2009

I am back to playing with Google trends (see an earlier post which has other search trends).  This time, I checked the search trends for ‘stochastic programming‘.  Here are the results:


Once again, the graph is normalized such that the average search traffic for ‘stochastic programming’ is 1.00.

There is no traffic before October 2006!  I am surprised (and disappointed).  Along with periods of non-activity, there seems to be a decrease in the number of searches until about mid-2008. After this point, it seems fairly stable.

What really surprised me was the region listing. Take a look:

SPsearch_by_CountryThe data is again scaled such that the highest number is represented as 1.0.   Looking at this graph it  is impossible not to wonder how come the searches on ‘stochastic programming’ from the US is much lower than from Iran?

According to Google:

To rank the top regions, cities, or languages, Google Trends first looks at a sample of all Google searches to determine the areas or languages from which we received the most searches for your first term. Then, for those top cities, Google Trends calculates the ratio of searches for your term coming from each city divided by total Google searches coming from the same city.

Looks like among all the searches originating from the US (or, Singapore or Iran), that is an estimate of the fraction of searches that are on ‘stochastic programming’.   We can get a better idea of relative interest in this term across countries from the web traffic statistics of www.stoprog.org -the official stochastic programming community home page.  (This is also the first link that comes up on a Google search on ‘stochastic programming’ after some ads.) The measurements on stoprog.org are taken since 11 May 2002.

storprog_origin The fraction of visitors to stoprog.org from the US is highest (35.60%).  The second highest is UK, at about 6% and number 10 on the list is Spain (1.8%).  Approximately 1/3 of all visitors to the site (33.10% to be exact) are outside of these top-10 countries, combined all together as “The rest” in the graph.

Unquenchable: Univ. of AZ prof. on Daily Show with Jon Stewart

July 19, 2009
The blog is beginning to feel like a string of announcements of media appearances by professors, but this is fun (and, serious at the same time).  Last Thursday, Jon Stewart’s guest was U of A professor Robert Glennon, who spoke about his book on the water-supply crisis…   Make sure to check out Jon Stewart’s ingenious ideas on how to solve water-supply problems!

You can find a video here.

My favorite quotes:  JS:  “Should we be mad at you for living in AZ?” …  RG: “That’s in Phoenix!”

As always, I want to mention that operations research has a lot to offer on this topic.  For instance, I have been collaborating with some folks who know a lot more about hydraulics than I ever will on using operations research methods to efficiently use and re-use water.

Andy Philpott on TV & Business Week

July 6, 2009

Learned it from M.Trick’s tweet:    Andy Philpott, one of the 2009 Edelman award finalists, was on TVNZ.   Check it out. This work was also featured in Business Week in late April.

OR/MS Recession? *

July 3, 2009

*:  I borrow the title from a section in the CORS/INFORMS Meeting Newsletter Vol.2, Ed.1.  (It was just too good to change and parts of this post will cite the stuff from this article.)

A little while ago, Mike Trick wrote about the declining membership numbers of the INFORMS society.  Right around that time I was at the CORS/INFORMS meeting and saw the google search trends on OR/MS…  Seeing these back to back was a little scary at first.  I cannot put the graph from the newsletter, so, I did the google trend search myself. Here are the results:

“operations research…
“management science”

Scale is based on the average worldwide traffic of “management science” in all years.   That is, average number of searches on “management science” is scaled to be 1.

Since 2004, there is a decline in the search of these terms although the decline seem to have stabilized in the recent years. Overall, it looks like an “OR/MS Recession”. (This was the tittle of the CORS meeting newsletter article. By the way, I searched online for the conference newsletter which was distributed on the tables in the main room but could not find an electronic version (or, blog)!)

I cannot say I like the trend.  If we want to put a positive spin on it, perhaps it is because people do know about these terms and don’t need to search as much.  But…  Operations research and management science is a hard field to describe.  Is it math?  Is it computer science?  Management science seems somewhat more approachable to me.  Our blogs aim to promote the word (e.g., see the subtitle of this blog).  Heck, we even have an algorithm to describe it.  Perhaps it is a function of the fact that we have yet to agree upon a unified term for describing the field (by ourselves and by others).   Operations research, management science, analytics, numerati, …   INFORMS society has a magazine called “Analytics“.  This word seems to be used more often, especially in the mainstream media. I added ‘analytics’ to the trend search and take a look:

“operations research…
“management science”

Scale is based on the average worldwide traffic of “analytics” in all years.

What happened in later 2005?  Number of “analytics” searches peaked. What made the word so sexy all of a sudden?  Does anyone know?

In search of the answer for the spike, a simple google search on analytics brings up Google analytics (GA).  GA provides website traffic information and statistics for free.  The Wikipedia page on Google analytics states: “The Google-branded version was rolled-out in November 2005”.  Looks like that might be the spike in the graph.

Anyway, I personally prefer ‘operations research’. The more we use it, the more it will stick.

Any thoughts on the decline the OR/MS searches?  Why is it happenning?  (This was a question posed in the newsletter with selected answers at a later issue but I missed it and cannot find it online!)