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Analytics Magazine

Inside Story: Tech saves sabbatical

Vijay Mehrotra, a professor in the business school at the University of San Francisco and the author of the popular “Analyze This!” column in Analytics magazine, recently returned from a seven-month sabbatical stay in Spain. Vijay took advantage of his time abroad to, among other things, try learning a new language, tour the country and soak up its culture, work on a book based in part on his Analytics mag columns and, fortunately for us, author new columns, the latest of which can be found on page 12.

As Vijay recounts in his column, the family’s Spain adventure got off to a rough start when the family dog somehow caught its foot in a moving sidewalk at the airport, resulting in an emergency trip to the vet, a three-day delay, rescheduled flights and assorted logistical problems that had to be solved in real time. Without giving the whole story away, suffice to say that Vijay, his family and the family dog made a nice recovery, thanks in large part to the “magic of 21st century technology.”

Vijay and I go back more than 20 years, when he was among the legion of high-tech start-up entrepreneurs plying their trade in the San Francisco Bay Area. As I noted in a recent Analytics newsletter, at the time Vijay had an idea for a new column for OR/MS Today, the membership magazine of INFORMS. Vijay described the column as “a cross between George Will, George Dantzig and George Carlin. That is, a thoughtful (albeit partisan) look at operations research and management science delivered in a humorous tone bordering on the cynical.”

Given my admiration of the three Georges (especially Dantzig, the “father of linear programming”), I was intrigued. When I received his first column, which appeared in the February 1998 issue of OR/MS Today, I was sold on Vijay’s unique ability to capture in easily understood yet powerful words the often inspiring, sometimes frustrating but always wonderful world of O.R. and analytics.

In 2010, shortly after INFORMS launched Analytics to reach out to the fast-growing number of those with an interest in the word and the field it represented, Vijay jumped his column to the new mag, gave it a new name and described it as, “One man’s imperfect view on the rapidly evolving world of analytics.”

In a totally imperfect and sometimes outright crazy world, I find Vijay’s views make perfectly good sense.

– Peter Horner, editor

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