Thursday, May 7, 2009

The Fragile Networks Book Cover (and Finding Happiness According to the Kingdom of Bhutan with Reminiscences about Professor George Dantzig)

Patrick Qiang and I are delighted that Wiley has now provided us with the cover of our book which I am sharing with you. The cover should be posted on online marketing websites in a week or so, we have been told. After canvasing colleagues, students, staff, and neighbors, we provided Wiley with feedback on earlier three options and Wiley's graphic design team came up with the final cover design above. I think that the images provide good visuals for some of the themes which are explored in the book and some of the applications, which range from congested transportation networks and supply chains to financial networks and the Internet plus electric power generation and distribution networks.

Completing this book has been a time-consuming but wonderful experience! The next step is the send-off to the printers, which we are hearing should be happening this week, with copies of the book being made available sometime in mid-June.

Completing the writing of a book generates some satisfaction and, dare one even say, happiness?! Well, the kingdon of Bhutan, a mountanous country in Asia, has developed a gross national happiness index. The New York Times had a feature article on the index today and it reminds me of a conversation that I had with Professor George Dantzig, one of the founders of the field of operations research, before he passed away at the age of 90. Professor Dantzig was a giant in terms of his scholarship and kindness. He made a mark on so many students, academics, and practitioners, through his work, publications, and warm personality. He is missed tremendously. Professor Dantzig told me that he had been working on, among other projects, constructing appropriate utility functions for the United States. Here is an interview with Professor Dantzig by Peter Horner and the article includes a photo of Professor Dantzig hugging me.

Lo and behold, in a sense, the government of Bhutan has constructed utility functions, with weights for different criteria, to enable the measurement of "gross national happiness." It is worth spending some time on the website above, which even discusses the length of time to achieve of PhD and the impact on happiness! The article in the NYTimes was most refreshing and fun to read. The government of Bhutan even "gets it" that time spent on activities such as work and sleep matters as does time spent in cultural and social pursuits.