Friday, May 27, 2016

Reflection on John Forbes Nash Jr. and Connections

The past week or so I have been delighted, every time that I logon from my office at All Souls College at Oxford University, where I am now a Visiting Fellow,  to see the beautiful photo of Sir Andrew Wiles receiving the 2016 Abel Prize in Oslo, Norway from Crown Price Hakon. The Abel prize  is the most prestigious international prize awarded in mathematics.  Sir Wiles proved Fermat's Last Theorem, an achievement which has brought him great and much-deserved renown. The interview itself is an inspiration and speaks of his years of studying the problem before all the pieces for the proof fit together.

I could not help thinking back to one year ago and recalling that, one of my scholarly giants, whom I cite in numerous papers (probably about 100), John F. Nash Jr.,  was awarded the Abel Prize in May 2015. He was awarded it with Louis Nirenberg.

My husband brought me the latest issue of the Notices of the AMS to my daughter's graduation last weekend saying that I had to bring the issue back with me to Oxford, and I did. On the cover was a photo of John Forbes Nash Jr. and in the issue were both tributes and a fascinating interview with Nash, his last.
This morning I had a chance to read the interview conducted by Professors Martin Raussen and Christian Skau with Nash on May 18, 2015, one day before the Abel Prize ceremony in Oslo, Norway and only 5 days before he died tragically with his wife following a return flight and being driven in a taxi from the Newark Airport.

I had been at that airport both last Thursday and Sunday, flying in from Heathrow London to attend my daughter's college graduation from Lafayette College. My experiences with drivers to and from Newark Airport merits a separate blogpost.

John Nash received his PhD from Princeton University at age 21 and his dissertation was on Noncooperative Games. His contributions included results for manifolds and even partial differential equations and for decades he suffered from mental illness but in the 1990s became well enough and was awarded the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences in 1994. Interestingly, his advisor at Princeton was Al Tucker (of course of Kuhn-Tucker nonlinear programming fame) and he actually shortened his dissertation. Nash had had some results on cooperative game theory at that point as well. All Tucker's son, Al Tucker Jr., had interviewed me for a tenure track faculty position at SUNY Stony Brook and I had gotten an offer while I was on the job market while finishing my PhD, but I chose to come to UMass Amherst.

I have utilized Nash's results in game theory for modeling a plethora of competitive supply chain network problems from those arising in food applications to even fast fashion (some Fellows at dinner last night were asking me about what is fast fashion and there are both H&M and Zara outlets 2 blocks away). It was a fun discussion. And the Fellow who raised the question is a Harvard-educated economic historian who after speaking with me said - "You are an Operations Researcher!"

I have also with students and collaborators been doing alot of work on cybersecurity and cybercrime and, again, Nash's results on Nash Equilibria are crucial to my model formulation and subsequent analysis and computations. 

This past year we have been tackling some very challenging problems. These have required extensions of Nash Equilibrium to Generalized Nash Equilibrium in the case of a disaster relief model that we developed with a brilliant undergraduate at the Isenberg School of Management, and now alum, and an Economics Professor, as well as the development and solution of Nash Bargaining models from cooperative game theory for information sharing among firms that are subject to cyberattacks with applications to financial service firms, retailers, and energy companies.

And speaking of other connections, our paper: A Supply Chain Game Theory Framework for Cybersecurity Investments Under Network Vulnerability, Anna Nagurney, Ladimer S. Nagurney, and Shivani Shukla, in Computation, Cryptography, and Network Security, N.J. Daras and M.T. Rassias, Editors, Springer International Publishing Switzerland (2015) pp 381-398, which was co-edited as you can see by Michael T. Rassias, is mentioned in the last paragraph of the Nash interview. The paragraph reads:  After the end of the interview proper, there was an informal chat about John Nash’s main current interests. He mentioned again his reflections about cosmology. Concerning publications, Nash told us about a book entitled “Open Problems in Mathematics” that he was editing with the young Greek mathematician Michael Th. Rassias, who was conducting postdoctoral research at Princeton University during that academic year.

This book is scheduled to be published by Springer sometime this summer.

And I know Rassias's father, who is another brilliant mathematician. He co-edited with my great colleague Panos Pardalos the volume that another paper of ours appears in: A Dynamic Network Economic Model of a Service-Oriented Internet with Price and Quality Competition, Anna Nagurney, Dong Li, Sara Saberi, and Tilman Wolf, in Network Models in Economics and Finance, V.A. Kalyagin, P.M. Pardalos, and T. M. Rassias, Editors, Springer International Publishing Switzerland (2014) pp 239-264. That volume was based on a conference in Athens, Greece, and I posted some photos from it on my blog.

Monday, May 23, 2016

The Best College Graduation Ever - My Daughter's

Last Thursday, I flew from London Heathrow to Newark to attend my daughter's college graduation and today I returned back to Oxford, England, where I am a Visiting Fellow at All Souls College for the trinity term.

This was a whirlwind trip but truly special - your child graduates college only once (although she may acquire additional degrees).

I have blogged about my daughter's graduation from Deerfield Academy as well as from The Bement School and, since many of my colleagues from around the world know Alexandra and are asking for highlights of her college graduation, I am writing this blogpost. She went to her first INFORMS conference in Boston when she was only 3 months old and one of her favorite conferences was when we were in Iceland. She has followed me on various academic appointments whether in Austria or in Sweden and soon will be joining me in England.

Her now alma mater is Lafayette College, which has a beautiful campus, very successful graduates,  and is one hour away from NYC; about an hour from Philadelphia, and about 2 hours from DC. Hence, there are many opportunities for great educational class field trips as well as internships.

The college was named after General Lafayette.


Although the graduation ceremony from Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania, was on Saturday, May 21, 2016, already on Friday, May 20, we had many events to attend, beginning with a very special ceremony in the Department of Geology and Environmental Geosciences, from which Alexandra received a BS summa cum laude and graduated with honors in geology and environmental geosciences.
 The faculty that Alexandra has had at Lafayette College were mentors, supporters, and some, I believe, also became friends. She traveled with geology faculty to Hawaii, did a field trip to Wyoming and many more local ones to her college, and was a TA on the second Wyoming field trip. She also had an externship in Oklahoma. Her honors thesis was on Iceland and I Skyped in recently from England for her oral defense.

At the geology ceremony, each senior major received a gift and also a professor or two spoke about what made the student unique. This was very moving event and took place in the beautiful geology building. Dr. Kira Lawrence, the Chair of the Department, who received her PhD from Brown University, was the officiator.

Professor Larry Malinconico, Alexandra's advisor, and Professor Tamara Carley, her honors thesis supervisor, both spoke about Alexandra. I personally had to thank Professor Hovis, a Harvard PhD for his mentorship of Alexandra as well. Dr. Malinconico is a Dartmouth PhD and also a former member of the crew team there.

My husband and I are very grateful for the nurturing that Lafayette College provided in terms of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) education within a liberal arts college education. Her faculty also supported her when she submitted applications to various summer programs and graduate school. After her sophomore year, Alexandra did summer research on the environmental impact of fracking at the University of Colorado Boulder under an NSF REU (Research Experiences for Undergraduates)  program, and, after her junior year, she was a summer intern at the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston, Texas, working on moon rocks in a very competitive international program.


In August,  she will begin a PhD program in geology.

On Friday, there was also an honors convocation in which the first page of each thesis presentation was displayed in a slide show and each student recognized. My cousin, Andrew Yarosh, a fellow Brown University grad, traveled from Colorado to join us in the celebrations.
There were numerous receptions to attend, which were very festive and, luckily, the rain held off, so the graduation ceremony could take place outdoors.
It was great to see a fellow Deerfield Academy graduate, class of 2012, Brad Marshall, who also hails from western Massachusetts, receive a degree in engineering from Lafayette College.
After graduation, it was time for the Lafayette College crew barbecue which the senior crew team members organized for the families. Alexandra has been both a VP and President of the crew team and, together this amazing group of student athletes,  journeyed together to competitions in the Northeast, including the Head of the Charles regatta in Cambridge and the Dad Vails in Philadelphia, trained during every spring break in Florida, and numerous mornings on the river around 6AM.  My daughter was the cox for the men's 4s and 8s boats and the camaraderie of this team is extraordinary. Special thanks to the coach, Rick Kelliher. They even planned and organized a banquet each year, which President Alison Byerly attended once, raised lots of money for the team, and even hosted an Olympian gold medalist at one of the banquets. President Byerly has been an outstanding President of Lafayette College.

Thanks to Lafayette College for providing my daughter with both transformative educational experiences (even a trip to Costa Rica), nurturing her love of science and research, her love of history and art history, with great classes in environmental sciences, advanced calculus, economics, and statistics.

As an academic, I have been to many wonderful college and graduation ceremonies, not only in the US, such as at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where I teach, at Brown University and at Harvard University, but also abroad in Sweden, but when your daughter graduates, that will always be a very special one!

More photos from Lafayette's 181st commencement are available on the college's website. And, by the way, my husband, Alexandra's father, is also a Lafayette College grad and a very loyal alum. He still stays in touch with one of his former physics professors. Those are the special ties that bind.

Congratulations to the Class of 2016!

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Travel Route Choice Behavior - Green Way or the Congested Way

Moving to a new country, if only for a period of several months, is always very exciting for me and, since I arrived in Oxford, England almost 3 weeks ago to assume my Visiting Fellowship at All Souls College at Oxford University, I have had many wonderful experiences. I have enjoyed meeting other Fellows, doctoral students, staff members as well as colleagues from different universities at a conference and have been captivated by the beauty of the architecture as well as the gardens in this historic university town.
It has been so pleasant getting used to a new apartment, finding places to shop, and, would you believe, that I have not ridden in a car since the driver brought me from Heathrow London to Oxford almost three weeks ago and neither have I turned on the TV. Life here is just too interesting and there is so much to explore. The support provided by All Souls College with wonderful meals, fellowship, access to libraries, colloquia, and seminars at Oxford University, and its facilities, plus an office that overlooks a garden and fountain, have also given a great lift to my research work.
But, of course, I have to get to and from my office, which I do every day, including weekends that I am at Oxford.


The second day that I was in Oxford I purchased a monthly bus pass because I thought I might use the bus regularly and I do after evening college events.


However, I do love to walk, and, given the sumptuous meals (today, for  example, we had exquisite salmon, many salads, delicious carrots with nuts, and summer pudding filled with berries for lunch, for example) at All Souls College, one needs to exercise.


Now, which route should I choose to get to and from work as well as which mode of transportation. I am not renting a car and neither will I be biking in  although a wife of a deceased Visiting Fellow donated a bike for our use. I carry a brief case with papers and always an umbrella and riding a bike would be too cumbersome.


The first several days I walked the congested way on Iffley Road and then Henley Road and then noticed that I would cough. Also, there has been widespread coverage of pollutants in various cities, based on a study of the World Health Organization (WHO), including in Europe, especially with all the diesel vehicles, which, honesty, I could "feel." To walk the congested way took me thirty minutes.
Then I discovered the green way, which is via Meadow Lane, past a playground and elementary school, and past fields, and also Oxford University sports facilities such as a pool and track. This route takes me about 45 minutes but is preferable to me since I always get some great thinking done and arrive at my destination so refreshed and inspired - great exercise for mind and body and I have met several walkers along this way.
I have done a lot of research on travel choice behavior and multicriteria decision-making, weighting, for example, cost, time, and emissions generated.


Below are links to two of my papers on multicriteria travel decision-making.


Traffic Network Equilibrium and the Environment: A Multicriteria Decision-Making Perspective,
Anna Nagurney, June Dong, and Patricia L. Mokhtarian, in Computational Methods in Decision-Making, Economics and Finance, E. Kontoghiorges, B. Rustem, and S. Siokos, Editors, Kluwer Academic Publishers (2002) pp 501-523.



Multicriteria Network Equilibrium Modeling with Variable Weights for Decision-Making in the Information Age with Applications to Telecommuting and Teleshopping,
Anna Nagurney, June Dong, and Patricia Mokhtarian, Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control 26: (2002) pp 1629-1650.



This topic is part of a broader theme on sustainable transportation that I wrote a book on:
When the book was published in 1999 I received a nice letter from Vice President Al Gore, which hangs framed in my office at the Isenberg School of Management at UMass Amherst.


Now I believe that this work may benefit from another extension, and that is the inclusion of a criterion on health impact of your route choice. Not only do we in our choices of mode and route affect the environment, but we are also affected by it. And breathing diesel fumes and particulate matter is not good for living beings.


And, today,  I had the most unexpected, delightful conversation on the Braess paradox with Dr. Eric Panzer, who is  Fellow at All Souls College at Oxford and is a mathematician, and also with Professor Wolfgang Ernst, a law scholar. Both are Germans and Eric had even heard of the Braess paradox. We had tea together after the delicious lunch.



Saturday, May 14, 2016

Responsible Business: Insights from Executives and Academics

The Responsible Business Forum at the Said Business School at Oxford University in England has been a great success and I had the pleasure of hearing multiple executives as well as academics and students speak on and discuss a new paradigm for business in contrast to the doctrine of Milton Friedman, which stated that the purpose of business is to make as much money as possible while conforming to the basic rules of society.

The presentations and panels took place in the Nelson Mandela Lecture Theatre, a very appropriate setting.
There was also time to meet and chat during breaks in the schedule, which was very intense and incredibly informative.

Executives came from such top companies as Unilever, Mars, which was a co-sponsor of the forum, Al-Sanabel, Danone, and Novo Nordisk, among others.


There were panels by business leaders, financiers, policy makers, and thought leaders, and I enjoyed speaking with Dr. Aleen Westerhof, who is the Coordinator of the European Economic Summit.
The case studies were very interesting to me and what I noticed was that many of these involved food, which is a topic that I have done research on and continue to research, in the context of supply chains. For example, Danone deals with 150,000 dairy farmers and Mars is assisting cocoa farmers and changing their lives for the better. Both companies emphasize mutuality when it comes to stakeholders and empowering those that they do business with. Time and time again, the importance of taking the long view was emphasized. Also having regulations redesigned so the short-term for-profit schema is expanded.  The "tyranny of the horizon" was noted with climate change, for example, and I heard of supply value cycles as opposed to supply value chains since resources such as water and energy must be preserved. I was so impressed by Goran Ando, the Chairman of the pharmaceutical company, Novo Nordisk, saying that their manufacturing plants in Denmark were converted to renewable energy and, given that biotechnology is a big consumer of energy, this had a big impact on the bottom line and also is of benefit to the environment. Plans are to scale this to other plants.


Panelists and speakers addressed such major issues as: What is the purpose of business and how can we adopt new supply chains within brands to develop novel ecosystems of businesses, NGOs, governments, and universities to go beyond just financial measures of business performance and to include social and human capital. Time and time again, it was said that "it's not just about profits." I was very impressed by Itzik Zivan, CEO of Al-Sanabel in Israel, whose firm employs many women who are Bedouins to prepare nutritious food for school children. The women are empowered and the children benefit from wholesome, delicious foods in the schools, and Al-Sanabel earns a profit.  Al -Sanabek is a social enterprise and Zivan stated that their business model has the following features which others can emulate:


1. A genuine need in the market (3000,000 meals for children) on a regular basis;


2.  Market failure - the previous supply chain was broken - many children, especially Bedouin children would not eat the food provided in schools before;


3. Relative advantage- the Bedouin women who are employed to prepare the food make a decent salary and there has been no turnover!


A key issue in terms of responsible business was how to establish trust with suppliers since it takes a long time to build trust and trust is fragile. I also enjoyed hearing "Doing Well by Doing Good," which reminded me of one of my favourite INFORMS slogans: "Doing Good with Good O.R. (Operations Research). Business is also about emancipating people, it was said.


Executives noted their passion and how much they love their jobs and their clients. Institutional investors also need to buy into responsible business. Responsible business is supported by Mutuality - the Interests of Others - and the chocolate company Mars has begun a partnership with the Said Business School at Oxford to research the economics of mutuality. We were all invited to take on the challenges of responsible business whether as practitioners or researchers or policy makers.


We heard of companies working even with their competitors for the common good - impressive! The importance of resources was also a theme and especially knowledge resources and ideas generated by employees. Knowledge is a resource that is not lost when it is shared. The CEO of Danone said that "prosperity does not exist if we don't share it."  Keep searching for hidden resources in your value chain and be bold. Also, new distribution channels need to be invested in.


The importance of opening your mind so that you move beyond the boundary of you company and building a new box if you can't work within the existing frameworks made a lot of sense to me.


Also, Ellen, whom I have mentioned in a previous blogpost, who is a PhD student at Said and a fellow network enthusiast, gave me a tour of the Oxford Launchpad at Said, which she is involved in, for entrepreneurship.
And, what could be better than standing in the amphitheatre below, which is part of the business school, and where activities in honor of Shakespeare, as well as other events take place.

Finally, I'd like to thank the Said staff - I do like their special events shirts and think that perhaps we should do something similar at the Isenberg School of Management!






Congrats to the Said School of Business and to Professor Colin Mayer of Said and Bruno Marche of Marson on the success of The Resonsible Business Forum, which was even videostreamed.

Friday, May 13, 2016

A Few of My Favorite Places, Thus Far, as a Visiting Fellow at Oxford University

Yesterday was a glorious day here in Oxford, England with warm temperatures and the sun shining brightly.  Since I have had many requests to share more of my experiences as a Visiting Fellow at All Souls College at oxford University, with requests coming even from Italy and Colombia, in this blogpost I highlight, through photos, some of my favorite places in Oxford.

Of course, I must begin with All Souls College, which has been so warm and welcoming to the Visiting Fellows. The support provided in such an exquisite ambience in both energizing and spiritually and intellectually uplifting. I enjoy the meals, the fellowship, and conversations immensely. The garden outside my office and fountain are special favorites as is the Codrington Library.


The beauty of the Radcliffe Camera always captivates me as does the natural foods at the restaurant close by.
Downtown Oxford is a short walk from my office and I visit the Museum History of the History is Science which has Einstein's blackboard.
 I also enjoy the covered market with specialty shops and outstanding chocolates and gelato and also fresh produce but the cakes are extra special.
And, of course, for inspiration I love to walk and explore and think. Such places as Trinity College at Oxford University, University Park, and the walk along the Thames River are special to me.
And since downtown is so close to my office, besides the street musicians, and shops, I managed to capture a parade the other day celebrating Oxford's soccer team getting elevated to a higher league. Maybe it will be the new Leicester.
And, when it comes to afternoon tea, I sometimes go to the oldest  coffee house in England, which is on High Street.

With the beauty and support here, it is such a pleasure to work. Thank you All Souls College at Oxford University for this incredible experience! Also, for the new friendships made.

And today and tomorrow I will be at a very interesting Responsible Business Forum at the Said School of Business.