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Analytics Magazine

Inside Story: Prediction problems

business analytics news and articles

By Pete Horner

“It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.”

A number of sources have been credited with making some version of that statement, from Danish physicist Niels Bohr to legendary baseball player/philosopher Yogi Berra. Berra and Bohr are both right: Making predictions about the future is tough. But that’s never stopped folks from making predictions, and since we’re knee-deep in the U.S. presidential campaign, modern-day Nostradamuses and political pundits are coming out of the woodwork to make predictions regarding the outcome of the race to the White House between presumptive Republican and Democratic presidential nominees Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

How do you predict a presidential election when one of the presumptive nominees is perhaps the most unorthodox, unpredictable candidate in recent history, when both of the leading candidates have record-high negative polling numbers, and, as of this writing, when both of the presumptive nominees face intra-party strife that could damage or even scuttle their respective campaigns by the time their party conventions are concluded? And what about the impact that independents and third- and fourth-party candidates might have on the outcome?

College professor and quantitative historian Allan Lichtman has correctly predicted the national popular vote outcome of every U.S. presidential election since 1984, and his method barely takes into consideration the candidates, their personalities, their positions on the issues or their poll numbers. Rather, Lichtman’s prediction is based on the answers to 13 key questions – the keys to the White House. Doug Samuelson, a longtime member of INFORMS, interviewed Lichtman for his take on this year’s presidential election, the turning of the “keys” and the science behind the “keys.” For more on the story, see page 28.

Meanwhile, Sheldon Jacobson, another college professor and longtime member of INFORMS, also has his analytical eyes on the race for the presidential prize. Sheldon and his students maintain an Election Analytics website that tracks and analyzes polling data to forecast who will win the presidency and which party will secure control of the United States Senate. The analytics are based on Bayesian statistics and operations research methodologies.

business analytics news and articles

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Andrew C. Trapp, a professor at the Foisie Business School at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI), received a $320,000 National Science Foundation (NSF) grant to develop a computational tool to help humanitarian aid organizations significantly improve refugees’ chances of successfully resettling and integrating into a new country. Built upon ongoing work with an international team of computer scientists and economists, the tool integrates machine learning and optimization algorithms, along with complex computation of data, to match refugees to communities where they will find appropriate resources, including employment opportunities. Read more →

Gartner releases Healthcare Supply Chain Top 25 rankings

Gartner, Inc. has released its 10th annual Healthcare Supply Chain Top 25 ranking. The rankings recognize organizations across the healthcare value chain that demonstrate leadership in improving human life at sustainable costs. “Healthcare supply chains today face a multitude of challenges: increasing cost pressures and patient expectations, as well as the need to keep up with rapid technology advancement, to name just a few,” says Stephen Meyer, senior director at Gartner. Read more →

Meet CIMON, the first AI-powered astronaut assistant

CIMON, the world’s first artificial intelligence-enabled astronaut assistant, made its debut aboard the International Space Station. The ISS’s newest crew member, developed and built in Germany, was called into action on Nov. 15 with the command, “Wake up, CIMON!,” by German ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst, who has been living and working on the ISS since June 8. Read more →

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Jan. 6-8, 2019; Knoxville, Tenn.

INFORMS Conference on Business Analytics & Operations Research
April 14-16, 2019; Austin, Texas

INFORMS International Conference
June 9-12, 2019; Cancun, Mexico

INFORMS Marketing Science Conference
June 20-22; Rome, Italy

INFORMS Applied Probability Conference
July 2-4, 2019; Brisbane, Australia

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July 27-29, 2019; Boston, Mass.

2019 INFORMS Annual Meeting
Oct. 20-23, 2019; Seattle, Wash.

Winter Simulation Conference
Dec. 8-11, 2019: National Harbor, Md.

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Jan. 28–31, 2019, 1 p.m.– 5 p.m. (live online)

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