D. C. Meeting Preview: Operations Research Goes To Washington
INFORMS annual meeting set for Oct. 12-15 in nation’s capital; Air and Space Museum to host general reception.
By Hani S. MahmassaniImages © 2008 JupiterImages Corporation
Like the young Mr. Smith in the classic movie, many graduates from the nation’s elite institutions go to Washington, D.C., with a dream and yearning to make a difference. In an election year where hope and change are pre-eminent themes, there is heightened awareness that many of the policies and programs that affect our quality of life necessarily go through our nation’s capital. Operations research and management science professionals are legion in the D.C. area, though they may not always be labeled as such (the generic “analysts” is much more common around the Beltway, sometimes qualified by systems, data, network, intelligence; not to mention “geeks” and “pointy-heads,” the politicos’ affectionate terms for anyone with a spreadsheet). They populate the national institutes, defense agencies, various mission agencies and myriad small and large companies (“consultants”) that keep the national government humming. By supplying the underlying intelligence, O.R. professionals play a key role in influencing public policy and informing decision-makers about the trade-offs inherent in all complex decisions.
In a year where the manifestation of this fascinating collective phenomenon called democracy may well determine the course of not just the country but the entire world for the next four (and possibly eight) years, it is especially fitting to bring O.R. and the INFORMS annual meeting back to the nation’s capital. Naturally, it will provide an opportunity to showcase some of the ways that O.R. is touching our lives through its influence on the public policy process and emphasize the great impact operations research can have on some of the daunting challenges facing society and policy-makers.
Operations research has the potential to provide a fresh perspective and relevant analytic tools to problems involving global warming, energy independence, fair and secure voting mechanisms, global terrorism, homeland security, transportation system congestion and affordable health care, to name a few. But in Washington, politics takes precedence over O.R., which is why the annual meeting is scheduled earlier than in other years; November in D.C. is all booked up for the general elections.
In addition to its status as the nation’s policy-making capital and lobbying marketplace, Washington, D.C., is an international cosmopolitan city that offers a wide variety of cultural, architectural, entertainment and culinary opportunities. The Smithsonian’s world-class art collections and rich museums around the National Mall provide a uniquely concentrated treasure trove of artistic, cultural and educational possibilities. The national monuments and memorials are prime destinations for a yearlong stream of domestic and international visitors alike. Eating out in
D.C. is an essential part of doing business and a favorite local pastime. From power steakhouses to French bistros, from eclectic nouvelle-fusion foods designed by high-profile chefs to simple Italian trattatorias, and as many ethnic and national foods as there are embassies, the D.C. area has it all for the foodophile and gourmand alike.
The INFORMS meeting will take place at the Marriott Wardman Park and Omni Shoreham hotels in the Woodley Park area, off of Connecticut Avenue in the northwest part of the city. It is within walking distance from the national zoo, as well as from the trail along Rock Creek parkway and through the expansive Rock Creek forest. Several neighborhood restaurants and shops are in the immediate vicinity. The vibrant Dupont Circle and nearby Adams Morgan district are a pleasant walk across the bridge. Getting around D.C. is very easy, thanks to its efficient and clean metro system, with a stop right at the Marriott Wardman.
The INFORMS Annual Meeting Washington, D.C., 2008 will follow the same basic four-day format of previous meetings. Leveraging its Washington, D.C., location, it will feature three “super” plenaries intended to showcase O.R.’s contribution to solving society’s mega-problems: transportation system congestion, public health, as well as energy and environment. Several additional plenary and keynote speakers have been lined up, consistent with the meeting’s overall theme, including Nobel laureate Roger Myerson (of the University of Chicago) and the 2008 Edelman Prize Winner (Netherlands Railways). The program is still being finalized at the time of this writing; updates can be viewed at the meeting’s Web site (http://meetings.informs.org/DC08/).
An outstanding series of tutorials will be presented by foremost authorities in their respective fields, reflecting a balance between methodological topics and those with a more applied flavor in keeping with the meeting’s overall themes. Similarly, an exciting set of invited session clusters has been designed to highlight emerging areas or fields that span several areas normally covered by the societies and special interest groups. The themes of both the tutorials and the invited clusters have again been selected to highlight the connection of INFORMS and its members to public policy. Special practitioner and outreach events have also been planned, in conjunction with WINFORMS, the Washington, D.C., chapter of INFORMS.
We are particularly excited that our members will have exclusive access to all that the Air and Space Museum has to offer during our general reception on Tuesday. We are grateful to the INFORMS staff for their effort to secure this premiere location, which will provide a superb environment for this major event. We are pleased to welcome back some of the INFORMS annual meetings’ core sponsors, especially SmartOps, ILOG and AIMMS, as well as several new ones. The list is still growing at the time of this writing; opportunities for additional sponsoring are still available.
All signs are pointing toward a highly successful meeting that will showcase the dynamism, vigor, breadth and policy-engagement of the O.R. community. The meeting will provide excellent opportunities to show Washington what INFORMS has to offer. Networking opportunities will be plentiful both inside and outside the meeting. The entire program committee is working hard to make this meeting a smashing success and share with our friends and colleagues the many attractions that the D.C. area has to offer. For the most up-to-date information, go to http://meetings.informs.org/DC08/. For more information about the Washington, D.C., area, visit www.washington.org.
Come to the conference and rekindle the excitement that got you into this field in the first place by experiencing firsthand the tremendous impact and potential of O.R. and its members on today’s major challenges. We look forward to welcoming you at the conference; come a day early and enjoy early fall in D.C. – the weather in October should be mild and pleasant.
Hani S. Mahmassani is the general chair of the 2008 INFORMS Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C., and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Doing Good With Good O.R.
The INFORMS Annual Meeting, set for Oct. 12-15 in Washington, D.C., will feature a special series of sessions on “Doing Good with Good O.R.” The sessions are aimed at demonstrating how operations research provides important insights that can be used to inform and shape public policy. The track will focus on three daunting societal challenges: 1) energy and the environment, 2) public health, and 3) aviation congestion. Each focus area will feature a plenary presentation by a leader in the field, followed by a panel discussion involving key stakeholders from government and industry together with academic experts. The discussion is guaranteed to be lively, provocative and have keen interest not only to O.R. analysts and academics, but also to policy makers and the general public.
ENERGY & ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY
Tuesday, Oct. 14
Plenary: 10 a.m.-10:50 a.m.
Panel discussion: 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
The world faces a number of crucial energy and environmental challenges, from oil security and local air pollution to global climate change and sustainable development. These challenges have all moved from being back-page news to front- page news over the last couple of decades, reflecting a growing sense of urgency for the development of solutions sought by both policy makers and the public.
Policy-makers at all levels – local, state, national and international – have long relied on OR/MS-style models to provide insights into the choices they face.
The panel will assess its experience in using models to inform energy and environmental policy-making at the national and international levels. Since we are now moving closer to the carrying capacity of the earth’s most vital life-support systems – the atmosphere, oceans, ecosystems, etc. – the panel will also identify the most important directions for future research for meeting the challenges we face.
Philip R. Sharp, president, Resources for the Future; former congressman from Indiana, U.S. House of Representatives
Philip Sharp became president of Resources for the Future (RFF) in 2005. His career in public service includes 10 terms as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Indiana, and a lengthy tenure on the faculty of the John F. Kennedy School of Government and the Institute of Politics at Harvard University.
Founded in 1952 as an independent and nonpartisan research institute, RFF is the oldest Washington think tank devoted exclusively to policy analysis on energy, environmental and natural resources. Dr. Sharp leads a research and administrative staff of more than 80 persons and oversees an institutional endowment of nearly $70 million.
Prior to his service in Congress from 1975 to 1995, Dr. Sharp taught political science at Ball State University, was a lecturer in Public Policy at Harvard’s Kennedy School and served as director of Harvard’s Institute of Politics. He also was a Senior Research Fellow in the Environmental and Natural Resources Program from 2001 to 2003. Dr. Sharp was Congressional chair of the National Commission on Energy Policy, a panel established by the Hewlett Foundation and other major foundations to make energy policy recommendations to the federal government. The commission issued its findings in a major report, “Ending the Energy Stalemate: A Bipartisan Strategy to Meet America’s Energy Challenges,” in December 2004. The report has been widely recognized as a comprehensive roadmap for future energy policy.
During his 20-year congressional tenure, Dr. Sharp took key leadership roles in the development of landmark energy legislation. He was a driving force behind the Energy Policy Act of 1992, which led to the restructuring of the wholesale electricity market, promoted renewable energy, established more rigorous energy-efficiency standards and encouraged expanded use of alternative fuels. He also helped to develop a critical part of the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments, providing for a market-based emissions allowance trading system. Dr. Sharp is a graduate of Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, where he graduated cum laude in 1964. He spent the summer of 1966 at Oxford University and received his Ph.D. in government from Georgetown in 1974.
Moderators: Jim Sweeney and John Weyant, Department of Management Science and Engineering, Stanford University
- Brian McLean, director, Office of Atmospheric Programs, USEPA Headquarters
- Howard K. Gruenspecht, deputy administrator, Energy Information Administration, U.S. Department of Energy
- Jae Edmonds, laboratory fellow, Joint Global Change Research Institute
- Richard Richels, director, Climate Policy Research, Electric Power Research Institute
Tuesday, Oct. 14
Plenary: 3:10 p.m.-4 p.m.
Panel discussion: 4:30 p.m.-6 p.m.
The United States spends more per capita on health than any other nation, yet has worse health outcomes than many other countries. Moreover, expenditures on health in the U.S. are growing rapidly and are taking up an increasingly larger share of per capita gross domestic product. Elsewhere in the world, some nations struggle with basic health issues such as sanitation and control of infectious diseases, while others are beginning to see epidemics of “Western-style” diseases such as obesity, heart disease and cancer. In all cases, resources for health are insufficient to meet the need for disease prevention and treatment, so difficult resource allocation choices must be made.
In this special “Health Policy” track, we bring together experts from government and academia to present views on how operations research and management science can play a role in understanding and improving decisions about investment in health care. The plenary presentation and subsequent panel discussion will provide perspective on how OR/MS can help improve clinical decisions, health care operations, management of health care technology and healthcare-related public policy – and thus help make the best use of limited healthcare resources both in the U.S. and abroad. The sessions will highlight the potential for operations researchers to”do good with good operations research” in this critically important area.
Carolyn M. Clancy, M.D., director, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Carolyn M. Clancy, M.D., was appointed director of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) in February 2003. Prior to her appointment, she served as AHRQ’s acting director since March 2002 and previously was director of the agency’s Center for Outcomes and Effectiveness Research (COER).
Dr. Clancy, a general internist and health services researcher, is a graduate of Boston College and the University of Massachusetts Medical School. Following clinical training in internal medicine, Dr. Clancy was a Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation Fellow at the University of Pennsylvania. She was also an assistant professor in the Department of Internal Medicine at the Medical College of Virginia in Richmond before joining AHRQ in 1990.
Dr. Clancy holds an academic appointment at George Washington University School of Medicine (clinical associate professor, Department of Medicine) and serves as senior associate editor, Health Services Research. She has served on multiple editorial boards (currently Annals of Family Medicine, American Journal of Medical Quality, and Medical Care Research and Review). She has published widely in peer-reviewed journals and has edited or contributed to seven books.
Dr. Clancy is a member of the Institute of Medicine and was elected a Master of the American College of Physicians in 2004. Her major research interests include various dimensions of healthcare quality and patient, including women’s health, primary care, access to care services and the impact of financial incentives on physicians’ decisions.
Moderator: Margaret L. Brandeau, professor of Management Science and Engineering, and professor of Medicine (by courtesy), Stanford University
- Carolyn Clancy, M.D., director, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality
- Peter Hartsock, research scientist officer, National Institute on Drug Abuse
Wednesday, Oct. 15
Plenary: 10 a.m.-10:50 a.m.
Panel Discussion: 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
The National Air Transportation System (NATS) and the airline industry are vital to the United States, and the economy depends in critical ways on the reliable, smooth functioning of the NATS. Recent studies suggest that the current NATS is on the verge of becoming unstable, with disturbance-induced congestion and delays likely to arrest growth and expansion, rendering the existing system unsustainable. In this special “Aviation Congestion” track, we bring together industry experts from the aviation industry, government and academia to present views on the many challenges associated with the provision of reliable air transportation in an increasingly congested aviation system.
The plenary presentation and subsequent panel discussion will provide perspectives on the critical issues surrounding this topic, and will include discussion and debate on the possible problem resolutions. These sessions will reveal the tremendous complexity surrounding aviation congestion and will serve to underscore the potential for operations researchers to “do good with good operations research” by informing and shaping public policy on this critical issue.
Russell G. Chew, president and chief operating officer, JetBlue Airways Corporation
Russell Chew joined JetBlue as COO in March 2007 and assumed the additional responsibilities of president in September 2007. He is responsible for planning and execution of the airline’s business strategy, as well as the reliable and safe operations of more than 550 daily flights to 53 cities in six countries.
Prior to joining JetBlue, Dr. Chew was COO for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), where he oversaw the operational and financial performance of the U.S. air traffic control system and the FAA’s research and acquisition programs. He joined the FAA after 17 years with American Airlines, serving as a line-qualified captain on the B-767, B-757 and MD-80 aircraft. At the airline’s Technical Flight Operations, he managed daily technical operations and regulatory requirements. His management experience also includes systems development and engineering. In his last position at American Airlines, Dr. Chew managed the airline’s System Operations Control where he was responsible for directing the day-to-day operations at American’s central control center. He also oversaw Strategic Operations Planning, which included the evaluation, acquisition and implementation of new aircraft and ground technologies for airline fleet and operations planning.
Dr. Chew’s service to the aviation community includes serving as chair of the Air Traffic Control Steering Committee for the Air Transport Association and the Flight Operations Committee for the International Air Transport Association. He was also on the Board of Director of ARINC, Inc. and ATN Systems, Inc. His industry activities focused primarily on current and new federal air traffic control system requirements, technologies and global air traffic control modernization programs.
Moderator/chair: Jane F. Garvey, head of U.S. Public Private Partnerships in Transportation, JPMorgan; former administrator, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA); also lecturer and research scientist, MIT Center for Transportation and Logistics
- Russell Chew, president & COO, JetBlue Airways Corp.
- Daniel M. Kasper, managing director, LECG, LLC
- James M. (Jim) Crites, executive vice president of operations, DFW Airport
- D.J. Gribbon, chief council, U.S. Department of Transportation
- David Gillen, Vancouver International Airport Professor of Transportation Policy and Management, Sauder School of Business, University of British Columbia
- Dorothy Robyn, principal, The Brattle Group
Plenaries and Keynote Presentations
Following is the schedule of plenaries and keynote presentations set for the INFORMS Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C., Oct. 12-15:
WELCOME & EDELMAN REPRISE
Sunday, Oct. 12
10 a.m.-10:50 a.m.
Cynthia Barnhart, President, INFORMS Associate dean for Academic Affairs, Civil and Environmental Engineering and Engineering Systems, School of Engineering; co-director, Operations Research Center, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Edelman Competition 2008 Award Winner: “The New Dutch Timetable: The O.R. Revolution” Netherlands Railways – Erwin Abink, Pieter-Jan Fioole, Dennis Husiman, Leo Kroon, Roelof Ybema, Beert Meerstadt; University of Padua – Matteo Fischetti; Erasmus University Rotterdam – Gábor Maróti; CWI – Lex Schrijver; Safiro Software Solutions – Adri Steenbeek
In December 2006, Netherlands Railways introduced a completely new timetable, designed to facilitate further growth of passenger and freight transport on a highly utilized railway network and to improve the robustness of the timetable in order to reduce the number of train delays in the operation. The construction of a railway timetable from scratch for about 5,500 daily trains was a complex puzzle. To support this whole process, sophisticated operations research techniques were used to generate several timetables, one of which was finally selected and implemented.
The costs of a railway operator are mainly determined by the rolling stock and crew schedules. Two innovative O.R. tools were used to come up with efficient schedules for these two resources. The more efficient resource schedules and the increased number of passengers resulted in an annual additional profit of 40 million euros ($60 million). It is expected that this will increase to 70 million euros ($105 million) in coming years.
However, the benefits of the new timetable for the Dutch society as a whole are much higher: more trains are transporting more passengers on the same railway infrastructure, and all these trains run more on time than ever before. As a result, future growth in transportation demand can be handled by rail transport, allowing cities to remain accessible.Moreover,the emission of greenhouse gases can be reduced.
OMEGA RHO DISTINGUISHED LECTURE
Sunday, Oct. 12
3:10 p.m.-4 p.m.
Karla Hoffman, professor, Systems Engineering and Operations Research, School of Information Technology and Engineering, George Mason University
Karla Hoffman is a professor in the Systems Engineering and Operations Research Department of the School of Information Technology and Engineering of George Mason University where she had been chair for five years ending in 2001. She received her B.S. in mathematics from Rutgers University in1969, and an MBA and a Ph.D. in operations research form the George Washington University in 1971 and 1975, respectively. Previously, she worked as a mathematician in the Operations Research Department of the Center for Applied Mathematics of the National Institute of Standards and Technology where she served as a senior consultant to a variety of government agencies.
In 1984, she was awarded the Applied Research Award of the National Bureau of Standards for her research in solving large combinatorial optimization problems. This award is the highest honor awarded to a scientist in the non-measurement sciences and the first time that award was provided to a mathematician. The same year, she received the Commerce Department Silver Medal Award for meritorious service. In 1989, Dr. Hoffman received the Distinguished Faculty Award of George Mason University. In 2002, she received the Fellows Award of the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS).
Dr. Hoffman has many publications in the field of optimization, as well as a variety of publications detailing her applied work. She is co-editor of two texts,”Impacts of Microcomputers and Operations Research” and “Computational Mathematical Programming.” She is associate editor of Mathematical Programming and on the advisory boards of Annals of Operations Research, Computational Optimization and its Applications, and Information Systems Frontiers. Previously, she has served on the editorial boards of the SIAM Journal on Optimization and the INFORMS Journal on Computing.Dr. Hoffman was president of INFORMS in 1999 and had also served as vice president-finance and chairman of the Investment Committee of INFORMS. She has also served as treasurer of the Operations Research Society of America, and has served on the executive committee of the Mathematical Programming Society. She has served as chairman of various committees for each of these societies.
Dr. Hoffman’s primary area of research is combinatorial optimization. She consults to the FCC on auction design and testing for package-bidding auctions and is responsible for the design of a real-time scheduling algorithm for the concrete industry. She has developed scheduling algorithms for the airline industry, consults to the military on a variety of routing and scheduling problems and has advised the telecommunications industry on capital budgeting. Her research focuses on the development of new algorithms for solving large modeling problems arising in industry.
Monday, Oct. 13
10 a.m.-10:50 a.m.
“Perspectives on Mechanism Design in Economic Theory”
Roger B. Myerson, 2007 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences; Glen A. Lloyd Distinguished Service Professor, professor of economics, University of Chicago
Mechanism design has extended the scope of economic analysis by adding incentive constraints to resource constraints in our definition of the economic problem. Incentive constraints provide an analytical framework for understanding failures of allocative efficiency, showing how such failures may depend on the initial allocation of property rights in a society. But mechanism-design theory changes the basic object of analysis from the resource allocation to the social plan or allocation mechanism that specifies how resource allocations should depend on people’s information. Concepts of incentive efficiency can be applied to identify good institutional rules or mechanisms, taking incentive constraints into account. The cases for collectivism or private ownership may depend on trade-offs between different kinds of incentive problems: moral hazard and adverse selection.
Roger B. Myerson was awarded the 2007 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences. He was recognized for his contributions to mechanism design theory, initiated by co-winner Leonid Hurwicz of the University of Minnesota, and which Dr. Myerson further developed with others, including co-winner Eric Maskin of the Institute for Advanced Study. Dr. Myerson has made seminal contributions to the fields of economics and political science. In game theory he introduced a refinement of Nash’s equilibrium concept, called “proper equilibrium.” He has applied game theoretic tools to political science to study and compare electoral systems, and he also developed fundamental ideas of mechanism design, such as the revelation principle and “revenue-equivalence theorem.”
Dr. Myerson also has developed computer software for auditing formulas and for simulation and decision analysis for use with Microsoft spreadsheet software. He is the author of “Game Theory: Analysis of Conflict” (1991) and “Probability Models for Economic Decisions” (2005). Dr. Myerson also has published numerous articles in Econometrica, Mathematics of Operations Research and the International Journal of Game Theory, for which he served as an editorial board member for 10 years. During his 25-year tenure at Northwestern University, Dr. Myerson twice served as a visiting professor in economics at Chicago. He joined the Chicago faculty in 2001. He received his A.B., summa cum laude, and S.M. in applied mathematics in 1973 from Harvard University and a Ph.D., also in applied mathematics, from Harvard University in 1976.
Monday, Oct. 13
3:10 p.m.-4 p.m.
IFORS Distinguished Lecture:
“One-Vote, One-Value: The Majority Judgment”
Michel Balinski, directeur de recherche de classe exceptionnelle, École Polytechnique and CNRS, Paris
Mechanisms of every imaginable type have been invented across the ages to designate the winners and orders of finish among competing skaters, wines, restaurants, universities, beauty queens …and political candidates. The traditional theory of social choice asks: How are the “evaluations” of voters or judges to be amalgamated into a decision of the electorate or jury? It answers: There is no good method (the Condorcet paradox, Arrow’s impossibility theorem, etc.).
A new theory models the problem differently. Arrow’s theorem now says there is no satisfactory mechanism unless there is a common language of measuring the qualities or the performances of competitors. But when there is a common language – and practice shows they exist and can be defined – then one simple, practical mechanism that has been tested and applied should be used: the majority judgment.
Michel Balinski, a Williams graduate, studied at MIT and Princeton. He has taught at Princeton, Penn, CUNY Graduate Center, Yale and SUNY, Stony Brook. Since 1982 he has been directeur de recherche de classe exceptionnelle, CNRS and Ecole Polytechnique, Paris, and director of the Laboratoire d’Econométrie (19891999). He was awarded the Lanchester Prize in 1965 and an honorary degree in mathematics from the University of Augsburg in 2004. He is the founding editor of Mathematical Programming and a past president of the Mathematical Programming Society.
Dr. Balinski is the author of “Fair Representation: Meeting the Ideal of One Man, One Vote” (1982, reissued 2001, with H. P. Young) and “Le suffrage universel inachevé” (2004), and author or co-author of 100 scientific articles (O.R., mathematics and other journals). His principal current interest is the theory and applications of ranking and the design of electoral systems. One of his electoral systems is used in Zürich, Switzerland.
David D. Halverson
Information to come.
Wednesday, Oct. 15
3:10 p.m.-4 p.m.
“Engineering in the Entertainment Industry”
Daniel P. Cook, professor, Entertainment Engineering and Design Program, University of Nevada, Las Vegas
Developments in technology drive, and in turn, are driven by the entertainment industry. Nowhere is this more obvious than in the live theatrical productions created by Montreal-based Cirque du Soleil. Known originally for its acrobatics, Cirque du Soleil has become a powerhouse in the modern theatrical world through the sophisticated integration of automation systems into its shows to control motion, lighting, audio, pyrotechnic and projection effects. This presentation will focus on the show Ka, the $200 million Cirque du Soleil production located at the MGM Grand hotel and casino in Las Vegas, and will give a backstage look at how technology allows Cirque du Soleil to breath new life into familiar stories.
Daniel P. Cook has spent the last three years working extensively with entertainment companies such as Cirque du Soleil as coordinator of UNLV’s new Entertainment Engineering and Design program. He spent the summer of 2007 employed as an on-call stage hand at Cirque’s show Ka in order to gain a first-hand understanding of how technology is incorporated into the modern, live entertainment industry. His more traditional engineering experience includes work for Reynolds Metals, Phillip Morris, Hamilton-Beach, Alcoa and Apple Computer. He holds a B.S. in Metallurgical Engineering from Ohio State and a Ph.D. in Materials Science from the University of California, Berkeley.