Friday, July 3, 2015

John Nash's Last Book and the Operations Research Connections via Greece

Our terrific Dynamics of Disasters conference, which took place in Kalamata, Greece, in now over. It was such a pleasure working on this conference with my fellow co-organizers, Professor Panos M. Pardalos and Professor Ilias Kotsireas.

While there, I learned of some quite surprising news,which further supports the small world hypothesis (at least when it comes to our terrfic operations research community).

While at one of our nice get-togethers at the conference (I have posted many photos on the blog in previous posts), we reinisced about John Nash, the Nobel laureate, who tragically died in a taxi crash in New Jersey, along with his wife, after returning from Oslo, Norway, where he was honored with the Abel Prize. I wrote about receiving this shocking news while in Gothenburg, Sweden. 

John Nash greatly influenced so much of my work in competitive supply chains and game theory and he is also referenced many times in the book that I am presently writing.

Professor Panos M. Pardalos of the University of Florida, who is renowned in operations research, told me at one of our get-togethers in Kalamata that he commissioned John Nash's last book for Springer.

The book, "Open Problems in Mathematics," is co-edited by Michael Rassias and John Nash. In fact, Princeton University, in its many tributes to Nash, mentioned the book and this article contains a photo of Rassias with Nash.  Rassias speaks eloquently of the kindness of Nash and how he plans to emulate him. Rassias and Nash had just completed the foreword to their book before Nash left for Oslo. According to the Princeton tribute:

They agreed upon a quote from Albert Einstein that resonated with Nash (although Nash pointed out that Einstein was a physicist, not a mathematician, Rassias said): "Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning."

Professor Ilias Kotsireas of Wilfrid Laurier University in Canada (who worked tirelessly in making our conference a success) shared with me  the photo below of him with John Nash and with Professor Stephen M. Watt, currently the Dean of Mathematics at the University of Waterloo in Canada.


Nash was one of 4 invited speakers at the ECCAD 2008 conference at Shepherd University, Shepherdstown, WV., at which the above photo was taken.

Keeping with the small world theme of this post, Michael Rassias, who is a postdoc fellow at Princeton University, is the son of Professor Michael Themistocles Rassias, who was a co-organizer of the conference in Athens, Greece, in the summer of 2013 on Network Models in Economics and Finance at which I was a plenary speaker.

That conference banquet took place at the magnificent "new" Acropolis museum, with a view of the Parthenon; see photo below. Pardalos was also a co-organizer of that conference.
Our paper, "A Supply Chain Game Theory Framework for Cybersecurity Investments Under Network Vulnerability," A. Nagurney, L.S. Nagurney, and S. Shukla, will appear in the volume, Computation, Cryptography, and Network Security, which is co-edited by M. Th. Rassias, and is in press with Springer.

And, would you believe, that a contributor to the volume of Nash's last book is Professor Stephen Miller of Williams College,  who is married to my Marketing colleague at the Isenberg School of Management, Professor Liz Miller!

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Photos from Our Great Dynamics of Disasters Banquet in Greece

Conferences are places where you reconnect with friends from around the world, make new ones, exchange ideas, and have memories to treasure of new experiences.

Last night we held the gala banquet for our Dynamics of Disasters conference in Kalamata, Greece.

This conference has been taking place during a historic week for Greece because of the financial debt crisis and the euro.

Conversations on this topic have permeated the conference although its focus was primarily natural disasters. This conference brought together researchers and practitioners from the US, Canada, Denmark, Sweden, Greece, Turkey, Austria, Romania,  Russia,  among other countries.

Below are photos taken last night at our banquet. The beauty of the scenery and the great hospitality and camaraderie we will fondly remember. The important work in this domain continues.


Many thanks to my fellow conference co-organizers, Professor Panos M. Pardalos and Professor Ilias Kotsireas for making this conference possible! Thanks also to all the speakers and participants.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Crisis in Greece but Dynamics of Disasters Conference Goes On!

The debt crisis in Greece is top news all around the world. The past two evenings, for example, BBC had over 30 minutes of coverage on the topic beginning at 10PM. The New York Times even has an article on the brain drain in Greece, which I am well aware of, given the outflow of professionals, including academics.

This is also the period that our Dynamics of Disasters conference is taking place in Kalamata, Greece. I thank all of my OR/MS colleagues for messages of concern. It has been a very interesting time (and I have been to Greece for conferences both last summer and the summer before).

It has been fascinating to be in Greece during this crisis. We have walked from ATM to ATM since they have been emptied out with Greeks faced with a limit of 60 euros per card per day since Sunday. I was reminded of Dr. Radhika Kulkarni's (VP of R&D Analytics at SAS) presentation at the Isenberg School of Management this past spring, which included her work on where ATMs should be refilled!The queues at the ATMs with funds are long as the photo we took below reveals.
The conference has been great. I posted some commentary in my previous post along with photos and below I add to the photos and discussion.

Today, in addition to a talk by  a political scientist, we have had presentations from a physicists, from engineers, and also from operations researchers and management scientists. Clearly, we are seeing a need for holistic, systematic perspectives and approaches that can benefit practitioners and disaster management professionals. Today we heard talks ranging on such topics as narrative retrospection - explaining Danish and Swedish political dynamics in wake of the 2004 tsunami (in which 600 hundred Swedes and Danes perished in Thailand - the biggest such loss of life in years of Swedes in a natural disaster, albeit far from home) by Dr. Oliver Rubin, how to model pandemic dynamics by Dr. Edward Thommes of GSK  with Professor Monica-Gabriela Cojocaru (I was pleased to see my research cited here on projected dynamical systems), horizontal cooperation among humanitarian organizations with a focus on the UN (by Professor Fuminori Toyasaki of York University with colleagues), and even tornado detection from radar data with the use of machine learning (of course, presented by a colleague from the University of Oklahoma, Professor Trafalis), and even network criticality and disaster response with results for the 2007 Peloponnese wildfires, given by Professor Mitsakis of the Hellenic Transport Institute. Professor Mitsakis with his collaborators has been applying the Nagurney and Qiang network efficiency/performance measure to identify the importance of links (such as roads) and their rankings. It was great to see how the work that Patrick Qiang and I did is being used now in many different applications and countries. Our Fragile Networks book, which summarized many of our papers on the topic.

It was also great to hear Professor Sakis Migdalas, who is Greek, and is now a Professor at the University of Lulea in Sweden, one of the most northern universities on the planet, talk about transportation and distribution models.

Of course, Distinguished University Professor, Panos M. Pardalos was amazing in presenting his latest work on evacuation networks and centrality measure.

Below are photos of presenters, the audience, and more, that were taken today.

I thank my co-organizers, Professor Panos M. Pardalos of the University of Florida and Professor Ilias Kotsireas of Wilfrid Laurier University, for such a stimulating conference during a historic (and unplanned) debt crisis in Greece. It was wonderful to work with them on this conference. We are looking forward to getting together a very nice conference volume proceedings.
Tonight is the conference gala dinner, which we are all very much looking forward to. As the Prime Minister of Greece Tsipras said the other day on BBC news, the sun will shine again.



Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Photos and Some Highlights of Dynamics of Disasters Conference in Greece

Today was the second day of the International Conference on Dynamics of Disasters, which is taking place in Kalamata, Greece, and which I co-organized with Professor Panos M. Pardalos of the University of Florida and Professor Ilias Kotsireas of Wilfrid Laurier in Canada. Below joining us in the photo are Professor Aleskerov of Russia and Professor Burcu Balcik of Turkey.

This focused conference has had paper presenters from Denmark, England, Canada, the US, Russia, Sweden, Greece, Austria, Turkey, among other countries, which speaks to the timeliness and importance of the conference themes, which appear on the conference website.

I have been delighted that there is even participation from the Isenberg School of Management alums, Professor Tina Wakolbinger and Professor Fuminori Toyasaki, both of whom were my PhD students in Management Science, and are now, respectively, Professor at the Vienna University of Economics and Business in Austria and Professor at York University in Toronto, Canada. Also, a recent alumna of the Isenberg School, Jenny Sargeant, who just graduated in May 2015 with her degree in Operations and Information Management, is also here and today even gave a talk. She had done a nice project and presentation in my Humanitarian Logistics and Healthcare class this past spring, and since there was a cancellation today, she gave her presentation in that slot. Jenny is now living in Germany and begins her job with the USO on Sunday.

Below is a photo of the UMass Amherst contingent at this conference along with Professor Adenrele Awotona of UMass Boston! I am holding an Isenberg School of Management folder in which we provided the conference program. Thanks to Dean Mark A. Fuller and Associate Dean Tom Moliterno for support for this conference!
I have enjoyed the talks immensely. The presenters come from different disciplines, including psychology and anthropology,  earthquake engineering,  and, of course, a good contingent of operations researchers and management scientists. This makes for very exciting discussions and presentation of different perspectives.  There are also experts in disaster management and emergency preperdness here, experts in policy, and also transportation.

The venue is spectacular as are the discussions.





Below are photos of some of the presenters to-date. More talks are taking place tomorrow and I will continue blogging the conference.





We managed to get a group photo taken of most of the presenters and registrants (although not all) - see below:
Special thanks to Professor Ilias Kotsireas, who has organized conferences before at the Elite Hotel in Kalamata, which is the venue for our conference. He has done an outstanding job making this conference possible. And, of course, with INFORMS Fellow ad OR/MS superstar Professor Panos M. Pardalos as a co-organizer, the conference has to be great!

This is also a very historic time in Greece, which is making headlines around the globe,  because of the debt crisis and the euro.  As you may have heard, one can only extract 60 euros per day from a Greek bank account so there are many lines at the ATM machines. Those having US accounts are being allowed to take out more euros daily. However, as we experienced today, some of the machines are running out of cash and also many of the restaurants, etc., are no longer taking credit cards. The country is holding a referendum this Sunday.

Below is a queue not far from our hotel at an ATM machine.