Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Net Neutrality and Opening Up the Black Box

I very much care about fairness, equity, and making sure that there is no discrimination and that also is the case for the Internet.

Net neutrality is a topic that is now being fiercely debated on the news and talk shows and has many taking political sides.

To many consumers, and even businesses, the Internet is a “black box,” which has revolutionized the way in which economic and social transactions and interactions are conducted, entertainment is obtained and experienced, communications are done, and numerous educational activities participated in. If one were to ask Internet users to identify the mechanisms by which the videos that they view, the news that they read online, and the messages that they disseminate, one may very well find that a consumer would be able to identify the content provider and, perhaps, the network provider. The user/consumer will not know where the content is being delivered from, the routes that have been taken to transmit the data, and the service providers that might have been transacted with en route. Moreover, they will not be aware of the encumbered costs and, very likely, the profit garnered.

Hence, we are dealing with information asymmetry in today’s Internet, a subject that, in terms of quality, dates to the Nobel laureate’s George Akerlof’s classic 1970 paper. Consumers, as well as businesses, are unaware of the intermediaries involved in network provision, the costs and profits of service providers, and are locked into contracts of durations that are inflexible and, possibly, not optimal from their utility perspectives. Such an economic landscape creates an inertia for innovation as well as consumer satisfaction and limits competitive behavior. Furthermore, it is not clear, due to the lack of transparency and information asymmetry, whether scarce resources are being utilized in an optimal manner, with the understanding that different stakeholders and decision-makers may be faced with distinct objective functions, which may, include, for example, aspects of environmental sustainability as well as cybersecurity and even enhanced quality for network transport provision.

Furthermore, the constraints that stakeholders and decision-makers are faced with are not transparent, which may result of an inefficient use of resources. The information asymmetry results in a lack of trust, and, even to a certain extent, paranoia on the consumers’ part since vital economic and engineering information is not shared in a transparent and clear manner.

The topic inspired us to write a Guest Commentary entitled, "Net Neutrality, the Past, Present, Future and What It Means to Us"  for

My colleagues and I have been working since 2011 on a project funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), Network Innovation Through Choice. As part of the project, we are envisioning the components of an economy plane for Future Internet Architectures and, in particular, one which we are developing and which we are calling ChoiceNet. 

Specifically, we wish to offer consumers more choices and in a transparent way. Why should we be locked into long-term contracts, for example, when it comes to Internet services?!

Towards that end, we have proposed duration-based contracts for a service-oriented Internet. In the paper, A Game Theory Model for a Differentiated Service-Oriented Internet with Duration-Based Contracts, co-authored with my doctoral student, Sara Saberi, Professor Tilman Wolf, the PI on our NSF project, and Professor Ladimer S. Nagurney, we introduced a game theory model of a service-oriented Internet in which the network providers compete in usage service rates, quality levels, and duration-based contracts. We formulate the network-based Nash equilibrium conditions as a variational inequality problem, provide qualitative properties of existence and uniqueness, and describe an algorithm, which yields closed-form expressions at each iteration. The numerical examples include sensitivity analysis for price functions at the demand markets as well as variations in the upper bounds on the quality levels for the services.

The paper will be presented at the INFORMS Computing Society Conference in January 2015 in Richmond, VA and will be published in its Proceedings.

And speaking of quality, our paper,  A Network Economic Game Theory Model of a Service-Oriented Internet with Price and Quality Competition in Both Content and Network Provision, appears in the December 2014 issue of the INFORMS journal Service Science.

In the meantime, I am sure that the lively discussions on net neutrality and regulations will continue!

Transparency is key!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Amazing Management Science PhD Students at the Isenberg School of Management (Present and Past)

The strength and intellectual vitality of any college or university depends on the quality of its students and faculty, as well as programs.

In the case of a university, in particular, doctoral students add to knowledge discovery and generation and bring energy in terms of curiosity, ideas, critical thinking, and problem-solving.

I continue to be impressed by the quality of the doctoral students at the Isenberg School of Management at UMass Amherst and, in particular, by those in the Management Science track that I work closely with. To-date,  I have had the joy of chairing 17 doctoral dissertations and am now supervising 3 doctoral students, all of whom, coincidentally, it just so happens, are females, from 3 different countries.

Having returned recently from the INFORMS Annual Conference, which was in San Francisco, I can attest to the professionalism, creativity, and cameraderie of our PhD students, both past and present, who make up our academic family. They support one another professionally, enjoy one another's company, and some even share a room (fun and cost-wise) at conferences. They exchange tips with one another, whether in regards to teaching or research, collaborate on challenging problems, and even attend one another's weddings. And, when it comes time to celebrate achievements, such as the awarding of promotion and tenure, a special award,  or even promotion to Full Professor (3 of my former PhD students are now Full Professors),  we do it with style and joy. Just to mention some recent achievements: my doctoral student, Dong "Michelle" Li received the 2014 Outstanding Doctoral Student Researcher Award from the Isenberg School, and my student, Sara Saberi, received the 2014 Isenberg Scholar Award (one of twelve) for $10,000 and recently had this award renewed. Together,  one of our papers, written with Professor Tilman Wolf, and published in Netnomics,  was recognized by the ACM (Association of Computing Machinery) with a Notable Paper Award for 2013.  Professor Senay Solak's student, Heng Chen, also received a 2014 Outstanding Doctoral Student Researcher Award, as well as a prestigious FAA research award. In addition, Professor Solak's student, Yueran Zhuo, had her poster tie for second place at the Advanced Cyber Security Annual Conference. And, as I always say, "Apples don't Fall Far from the Tree," Farbod Farhadi, who received his PhD last May, and whose advisor was Professor Ahmed Ghoniem, last year was recognized by the Isenberg School with an Outstanding Doctoral Student Teaching Award!

It takes a community to solve tough problems and to also make the academic journey more pleasant.  

Below is a photo that my former doctoral student, Professor Min Yu, took at the INFORMS Student Chapter Award ceremony in San Francisco last Monday evening. So proud of the UMass Amherst INFORMS Student Chapter receiving and yet another national award from INFORMS for its activities. The chapter is truly in the Isenberg model and vision with officers and members from the Isenberg School and the College of Engineering.

Below, I have posted some more photos of the Management Science PhD students, both present and past, taken at the INFORMS conference. Other photos  are on previous blogposts on this blog.

In the above photo, taken at the INFORMS conference exhibit area, I am standing with my former student, Professor Jose M. Cruz, who received 5 degrees from UMass Amherst, and with Professor Min Yu. Professor Cruz is at the School of Business at the University of Connecticut Storrs. He has won both the undergraduate and graduate teaching award there and has been appointed an  Ackerman Scholar twice (a major research achievement). One of my former Operations Management students, Jan Sudra, who works at UTC, and is studying for a Master's at UConn, told me that he loved Professor Cruz, and he called him a research superstar!  Cruz is also the Director of the super successful Master's in Project Management and Analytics at UConn.  Professor Min Yu is one of my co-authors on many papers as well as on my latest book, Networks Against Time: Supply Chain Analytics for Perishable Products. She was recognized for her achievements by being appointed a Pamplin Fellow at the University of Portland.
In the above photo, we await the beginning of our supply chain session that I organized for the conference that took place last Monday. In the photo are the speakers, including my first female PhD student, Professor June Dong of SUNY Oswego, Professor Patrick Qiang of Penn State Malvern, and, in the audience, Professor Ke Ke of Central Washington University, who was also my PhD student.
Dong "Michelle" Li, seated in the front, was the first presenter and you can find our presentations on the supernetwork center website. My doctoral student Sara Saberi is seated behind Professor Qiang. I have co-authored books with Professor Dong and also with Professor Qiang, whose dissertation received the Charles Wootan Award from the Council of University Transportation Centers (CUTC).

In the photo below, I am with my former doctoral student,  Dr. Padma Ramanujan of SAS, whose dissertation received the Transportation Science Section (now the Transportation Science & Logistics Society) of INFORMS dissertation prize,  Dr. Deanna Kennedy, one of our former doctoral students in Management Science, and Dr. Min Yu. Deanna was recruiting for a faculty position at the University of Washington Bothell and it was wonderful to see her again!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Supernetwork Center Associate Reunion at INFORMS San Francisco

Conferences at which you get a chance to see in person wonderful collaborators, colleagues, and former students are always my favorites and, of course, the venue is also important.

The 2014 INFORMS conference was fabulous and served as a great venue at which many of the Supernetwork Center Associates got together face to face. Although not everyone could be there, including Professor Dmytro Matsypura of the University of Sydney in Australia (a regular at this conference) and Professor Patrizia Daniele of the University of Catania in Italy, as well as Dr. Stavros Siokos, Sciens CEO of London, UK, Professor Tina Wakolbinger of the Vienna University of Economics and Business in Austria,  the representation by the supernetwork team was, nevertheless,  great! It was extra special that doctoral students could meet some of the more senior Center Associates, who are Full Professors or managers in industry.

Below I provide photos that will keep the wonderful memories alive of this terrific supernetwork team and this great conference.

We went to J&G's for dinner on Sunday and one of several of my colleagues, who were born in China,  remarked that this was the best Chinese food that they had had in the US and I agreed. Thanks to Professor Min Yu of the University of Portland for locating it and to Professor Patrick Qiang of Penn State Malvern  for being our navigator to the location.

Our supply chain network competition session that I organized generated good questions and we thank Professor Vladimir Boginski of the University of Florida for taking the group photo below and for inviting me to put together this session!
In the above photo top row are: Professors Min Yu, June Dong of SUNY Oswego, and Ke Ke of Central Washington University, with Isenberg School Management Science doctoral students Sara Saberi and Dong "Michelle" Li. In the front row Professors Patrick Qiang and Amir H. Masoumi of Manhattan College  are seated with me. All of the presentations delivered in this session are now posted on the supernetwork center website.

After our session it was time to celebrate the UMass Amherst INFORMS Student Chapter cum laude award at a very nice ceremony. It was great to see Professor Min Yu come to support the students. She had been a long-serving member of the chapter before receiving her PhD.

On Tuesday, we had a great turnout for the WORMS (Women in Operations Research and the Management Sciences) awards lunch at which we enjoyed the delicious food (an amazing dessert) and the conversations.

It was special to speak with Center Associate Professor Jose M. Cruz of the University of Connecticut and Dr. Padma Ramanujam of SAS, both of whom received their PhDs with a concentration in Management Science from the Isenberg School at UMass. I was their very proud dissertation advisor.

Center Associate Professor Trisha Anderson of Texas Wesleyan University was also a presenter but could not stay for the full conference. She spoke at a session on supply chains that Professor Cruz organized and her co-author was Center Associate Professor Zugang "Leo" Liu, whose wife recently gave birth to a baby girl (so he was otherwise preoccupied).

It was also to have Doctoral Student Center Associate Sara Saberi present for the first time at an INFORMS conference. Sara spoke on our joint work with Professor Tilman Wolf on game theory and a service-oriented Internet.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Recognizing and Celebrating Outstanding Female Operations Researchers and Analytics Professionals

There are truly amazing female academicians and professionals in our field.

At the 2014 INFORMS conference, which finished yesterday, we had the opportunity to recognize and celebrate the accomplishments of several amazing women.

In recognizing and celebrating them, we provide support also to younger generations, in the form of wonderful role models.

This past Tuesday morning, I had the pleasure of attending the Fora/Chapters breakfast at which the Moving Spirit Award was given as well as the Judith B. Liebman Award.  The Liebman award was given out to great student leaders:  Michelle McGaha Alvarado and Kimia Ghobadi, and Ruixie Guo. The Moving Spirit Award was given to Dr. Laura McLay of the University of Wisconsin Madison. Laura is a superwoman and she was recognized for her contributions as an officer of WORMS (Women in Operations Research and the Management Sciences), having also served as this forum's President. Laura has promoted the activities of this forum and both women and men through innovative activities, blogging, and social media.  She has worked tirelessly in nominating women for awards, while also being a top educator, mother of 3, and even runner and knitter! As has been said multiple times, Laura is also a great ambassador for Operations Research.

I was so happy to see her on the podium and then we could not resist taking a joint photo. Laura is holding her award plaque.
Later that day, at the WORMS (Women in Operations Research and the Management Sciences) lunch, the 2014 WORMS Award recipient was announced - Professor Aleda Roth of Clemson University. Professor Kathryn Stecke of UTDallas, last year's award recipient, was the chair of this committee. Aleda has already achieved Fellow status of several professional organizations and is especially known for her empirical work in Operations Management. The list (with photos) of WORMS Award winners can be viewed here.

One of my former students, Professor June Dong, took the below photo of Professor Roth and me:
The WORMS lunch was sold out and the below photo was shared with me by Professor Christian Wernz of VT. Thanks to Professor Susan Martonosi of Harvey Mudd College, who is the President of WORMS, for being such a great emcee of this event!
On Monday, we recognized and celebrated the 2014 elected INFORMS Fellows. Only .015% of the over 11,000 INFORMS members are Fellows and the full list is here.

This year, 2 out of the 12 new Fellows are females: Dr. Candi Yano of UC Berkeley, who was the organizer of the INFORMS San Francisco conference, and Dr. Radhika Kulkarni of SAS.

I took the photo of Drs. Yano and Kulkarni below.
I have written about Dr. Kulkarni on this blog. One of my former PhD students, Dr. Padma Ramanujam, works for SAS and I have visited SAS in Cary, NC.

Below are photos of the desserts at our INFORMS Fellows lunch table as well as of my great companions at the lunch. Professor Panos Pardalos and I "hosted" several student award winners.
Congrats to all the remarkable women!

Congrats to the UMass Amherst INFORMS Student Chapter on its 9th National Award!

Late yesterday I returned to Amherst from the INFORMS Annual Conference, which took place in San Francisco. Several of our PhD students took the red-eye shuttle and returned this morning!

The conference was wonderful and a highlight was watching our students from the UMass Amherst INFORMS Student Chapter, which is based at the Isenberg School, being recognized for their hard work with the cum laude award from INFORMS for their chapter activities. This year, the chapter received its 9th award in a row, which I suspect must be a record. The chapter's members are graduate students from the Isenberg School of Management and the College of Engineering, principally, from the Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering.

Below are featured photos taken at the award ceremony, which took place this past Monday evening, November 10,  at our conference in San Francisco. What an amazing turnout - even some students who had received their PhDs a year or two ago came to support the new cohort and to celebrate with them. Plus. one of our MBA students, Ben Joyney, also came.

As the Faculty Advisor to the UMass Amherst INFORMS Student Chapter for over a decade now, I congratulate this great group! The friendships continue even after they graduate and leave UMass!

Waiting for the award ceremony to begin

 The UMass Amherst INFORMS student members are called to the podium and receive their award plaque from David Hunt and are congratulated by Gino Lim
This year's Chapter President, Michael Prokle, holding the award - last year's President was Shivani Shukla, who prepared the annual report, which was vital for the judging outcome

 The students with two former officers, Drs. Min Yu and Farbod Farhadi on the far right,  enjoy posing with their award plaque
And, after the award ceremony, we were treated to a reception, with the beautiful desserts displayed below
Congratulations to the Officers and the members - it is a pleasure to work with all of you!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The WORMS (Women in Operations Research and the Management Sciences) Awards Lunch was Grand!

First, I would like to thank all the sponsors of the great WORMS Awards Luncheon which took place today at the INFORMS Conference in San Francisco.

I counted 4 males in attendance and all of them had UMass connections! Two - Dr. Patrick Qiang and Dr. Amir H. Masoumi, were my former PhD students in Management Science at the Isenberg School,  and are now, respectively, Assistant Professors at Penn State Malvern and Manhattan College. Also, two Presidents of our award-winning UMass Amherst INFORMS Student Chapter were also present: Dr. Christian Wernz, who is an Assistant Professor at VT, and Michael Prokle, this year's President of our Student Chapter.

Professor Min Yu, also an Isenberg PhD grad, who is now an Assistant Professor at the University of Portland, took most of the photos below.

I wrote a post about this great event on the #INFORMS2014 conference blog here.

Dr. Susan Martonosi, the WORMS President, did a great job as the emcee and we have so much to celebrate.

This year's WORMS Award winner is Professor Aleda Roth of Clemson University - congratulations!!!

It was fabulous to see so many of our Isenberg PHD grads in Management Science, and several students as well. Even Professor June Dong, my first female PhD student, who is now a Full Professor at the School of Business at SUNY Oswego, joined us at the table!
In the above photo, the Isenberg School of Management's support of the WORMS lunch is acknowledged and that of other donors.

Special thanks to our wonderful Isenberg Dean, Dr. Mark Fuller, for supporting the luncheon!

Thanks to WORMS for such a great INFORMS community!

#INFORMS2014 in San Francisco is Fabulous!

I arrived in San Francisco for the INFORMS conference late on Saturday and, since then, the conference has been a whirlwind of activity. I have enjoyed outstanding plenary talks, the session that I organized ( I am a bit biased), hearing many of our doctoral students in Management Science present, some for the first time at an INFORMS conferences, and attending numerous meetings - many with great food, and award events. It is wonderful to see friends from around the globe, even from New Zealand, Switzerland, and the UK!

While in San Fran, I have also been blogging on the conference blog, which you can access here. You can get a great sense of the dynamism here and the exciting events while reading various posts on the link above.

One of the best parts has been seeing many of my former PhD students and two of my present ones from the Isenberg School of Management here. We always find time to share a pleasant dinner and to reconnect and recharge!

INFORMS is such a special community and yesterday when the students of the UMass Amherst INFORMS Student Chapter (over a dozen of them here) were recognized with the cum laude award with a gorgeous plaque, I was so proud of their work ethic and collegiality.

I will be posting (many) photos after I return to Amherst.