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Conference Preview: Record turnout expected for 2016 INFORMS Annual Meeting

By Chanaka Edirisinghe

Nashville skyline: The “Music City” will welcome the 2016 INFORMS Annual Meeting on Nov. 13-16.

Nashville skyline: The “Music City” will welcome the 2016 INFORMS Annual Meeting on Nov. 13-16.

Chanaka EdirisingheThe 2016 INFORMS Annual Meeting is shaping up to be one of the largest conferences ever held in Nashville, Tenn. Hosted at the Music City Center and the adjacent Omni Hotel, the conference will include 1,351 sessions, with each 90-minute session featuring four talks for a total of more than 5,000 presentations spread over 74 rooms. If the latest advances in operations research, management sciences and analytics along with the sheer volume of presentations don’t take your breath away, add to that the sizzling combination of American music, Southern hospitality, unbelievable cuisine and a boundless spectrum of enjoyment that the host city has to offer. You do not want to be anywhere else on this planet during Nov. 13-16.

The technical program is designed with an exciting array of academic and practitioner invited presentations highlighting several grand challenges facing the world:

Advanced computing as the driver of technological transformation of our society. Topic-related presentations include an opening plenary lecture on cognitive computing by Guruduth Banavar, VP and chief science officer at IBM; a keynote lecture by Jeff Nichols, director (NCCS) at Oak Ridge National Laboratory; and an invited cluster on High Performance Computing organized by Deepak Rajan of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

Precision agriculture that aims to leverage predictive analytics using real-time data to meet the challenges in increasing the global food production in the face of rising population. Topic-related presentations include an invited cluster organized by Robin Lougee of IBM and Joseph Byrum of Syngenta to bring OR/MS to the forefront of this challenge.


National healthcare issues from both policy-making and informatics perspectives. Topic-related presentations include a keynote lecture by Edmund Jackson, chief data scientist and VP of Healthcare Corporation of America; and an invited cluster on O.R.-informed Healthcare Policies, organized by Diwakar Gupta, University of Minnesota. Join a 90-minute session organized by Sanjay Mehrotra (Northwestern University) that brings together

Nashville, Tenn., home to more than a hundred music venues such as the legendary Ryman Auditorium (inset), will host the 2016 INFORMS Annual Meeting on Nov. 13-16.

Nashville, Tenn., home to more than a hundred music venues such as the legendary Ryman Auditorium (inset), will host the 2016 INFORMS Annual Meeting on Nov. 13-16.

operations research leaders with those from the organ transplant community to learn the complexities and process of influencing model-based policy changes to impact disparity metrics, lives saved, and pre- as well as post-transplant costs.

Exploration of big data and big decisions facing OR/MS researchers and practitioners. Topic-related presentations include a joint plenary lecture by Suvrajeet Sen and Gareth James, University of Southern California; and an invited cluster on Modeling and Methodologies in Big Data, organized by Jiming Peng, University of Houston.

Challenges in identifying and mitigating risk in the financial industry under changing regulations, emerging technologies and heightened corporate responsibility. Topic-related presentations include an invited cluster on Risk and Compliance organized by Akhtarur Siddique, deputy director (Enterprise Risk and Analysis), Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, U.S. Dept. of the Treasury.

The future of global supply chains and the issue of optimizing their efficiencies. Topic-related presentations include a keynote lecture by Jason Murray, VP of World Wide Retail Systems, Amazon; and the IFORS distinguished keynote lecture on hard practical optimization problems that deal with routing bidirectional traffic by Ralph Möhring, Berlin University of Technology.

But Wait, There’s More

The conference will offer a unique opportunity to celebrate the Omega-Rho 40th Year Anniversary through a plenary lecture given by an expert panel consisting of Alfred Blumstein (CMU), John Birge (Chicago), Ralph Keeney (Duke) and John Little (MIT). In addition, several new invited clusters are featured, including business model innovation, energy systems management, social media and entertainment analytics.

Throughout the conference, a group of nine academic and six practitioner speakers will give a series of 90-minute tutorial lectures that will be collected as a written volume. The tutorials, a must-make for beginning and advanced researchers alike, will cover the following high-impact research themes:

Optimization frontiers: reviews of stochastic optimization as the science of sequential decision-making under uncertainty, with applications to asset-liability management and Markov decision processes; optimal learning when information is expensive; robust multi-objective optimization theory and applications in engineering, business and management.

Network modeling: systemic risk due to complex dependence structure of interactions among individual components, including banks, financial services providers and regulators – with tutorials in network sampling, resilience under contagion and analysis under behavior of multiple autonomous agents for online social networks and economic and financial markets.

Risk modeling and decisions: review of mathematical finance with emphasis on the need to avoid and rescind destructive deployment of financial risk models; dealing with unstructured data from corporate filings, expert reports and news headlines for financial text mining for risk factors; valuation and hedging of risk in energy portfolios.

Big data: reviews of dimension reduction techniques, as well as data access methods for efficient analytics.

Healthcare and big projects: review of clinical and health sciences research, rooted in empirical evidence, and the role of analytics in addressing health risks of populations; and an expanded review of research and teaching opportunities in project management, a global economic activity valued at $12 trillion annually.

The conference will include many clusters and tracks organized by the sponsored societies within INFORMS, as well as more than a thousand contributed presentations. The INFORMS Roundtable, Analytics Society, CPMS, Railway Applications Section and other practice-related INFORMS societies will collaborate on a special practice track. Moreover, the presentations of the finalists for the Daniel H. Wagner Prize for Excellence in Operations Research Practice will serve as a Tuesday afternoon keynote.

Last but not least, poster sessions will run on Monday and Tuesday, Nov. 14-15, from 12:30-2:30 p.m. This year we are ramping up interactive sessions with the introduction of the E-Poster Walk – an electronic poster displayed digitally instead of printed on paper as a traditional poster. All poster competition semifinalists will have the option of presenting an electronic version of their final poster to be digitally displayed during the E-Poster Walk Session. A panel of OR/MS leaders, serving as judges, will review the posters entered in the competition, and winners will receive a certificate and be recognized in the INFORMS newsletters and on the INFORMS website, and receive cash awards.

All speakers of invited, sponsored and contributed presentations, as well as poster presentations, must complete paid registration by Sept. 16 or risk the presentation being eliminated from the program.

Something for Everyone

I would be remiss not to mention that Nashville offers everything from an electrifying multi-genre music scene, award-winning cuisine, historic homes, world-class art, a myriad of attractions, unique shopping, college and professional sports and more. There are more than 120 live music venues across the city; you’ll catch pickers and songwriters all over town, in places such as the bluegrass venue Station Inn, the rock venue Exit/In, the honky-tonks on Broadway Street, the song-centered Bluebird Cafe or the legendary Ryman Auditorium.

Nashville is also home to many attractions, from the Grand Ole Opry to the world-renowned Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. Opened in May 2013, the Johnny Cash Museum and the Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum add to the lineup. Nashville is also rich in visual and fine arts. The Frist Center for the Visual Arts is housed in an exquisitely converted Art Deco post office, the Cheekwood Botanical Garden and Museum of Art houses an extensive art gallery, and art crawls, studios and art galleries are all around town.

For more information, visit the conference website.

Chanaka Edirisinghe, professor, Lally School of Management, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, is the general chair of the 2016 INFORMS Annual Meeting in Nashville, Tenn.

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