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Bike-sharing system wins 2018 Wagner Prize

Bike-sharing system wins 2018 Wagner Prize

Daniel Freund, Patricia Neri (Wagner Prize Committee chair), David Shmoys and Shane Henderson (l-r).

As urban populations continue to grow – along with congestion and commuter traffic – eco-friendly alternative transportation options are becoming increasingly popular. In cities around the world, bike-sharing programs have become an accessible method to travel from place to place quickly and efficiently. A team from Cornell University, Uber and Motivate was awarded the 2018 Wagner Prize for its unique application of analytics and O.R. to improve the placement of bike docking stations and create an inventive approach to replenish and rebalance docking stations. The prize was presented at this year’s INFORMS Annual Meeting in Phoenix in November.

The Daniel H Wagner Prize is awarded for a paper and presentation that describe a real-world successful application of operations research or advanced analytics. The prize criteria emphasize innovative, elegant mathematical modeling and clear exposition.

The prize-winning paper, “Analytics and Bikes: Riding Tandem with Motivate to Improve Mobility,” was authored by Daniel Freund, Shane G. Henderson and David B. Shmoys of Cornell University and Eoin O’Mahony of Uber Technologies Inc. The researchers worked with Motivate, operator of the largest bike-sharing systems in New York, Chicago and San Francisco, to develop an initiative to improve the allocation of docks to stations, and then create an incentive scheme to crowd source rebalancing called Bike Angels. Lyft acquired Motivate in July.

Both of the projects have been fully implemented to improve the performance of Motivate’s systems across the country. Motivate has moved hundreds of docks in its systems nationwide, and the Bike Angels program now aids rebalancing in San Francisco and NYC. In NYC, Bike Angels yields improvement comparable to that obtained through Motivate’s traditional rebalancing efforts, at far less financial and environmental cost.

The paper and presentation titled “Combinatorial Exchanges for Trading Fishery Access Rights” by Martin Bichler and Vladimir Fux of the Technical University of Munich; Douglas Ferrell of the Department of Primary Industries, New South Wales; and Jacob K. Goeree of the University of New South Wales received second-place honors in Wager Prize competition.

The elegant and innovative mathematics of this work addresses the environmental concern of overfishing by implementing in New South Wales a first-of-a-kind market design for the reallocation of catch shares and the largest combinatorial exchange to date. The market design addresses previous solution weaknesses of lack of participation and fair payments. The implemented exchange illustrates how computational optimization and market design can provide policy tools to solve complex policy problems considered intractable only a few years ago. The exchange operated from May to July 2017.

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