Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Chicago as the Perfect Venue

I have been immensely enjoying the International Symposium on Mathematical Programming (ISMP), which is taking place in Chicago, August 23-28, 2009. The weather has been clear and crisp and the conferees, when time allows, are taking walks along Lake Michigan, marveling at the beauty of such architectural wonders as the Sears Tower, the Trump Tower, the Wrigley building, and, of course, the Chicago Art Institute (the second largest art museum in the US), and the Field Musuem (where tonight's conference banquet will be taking place). There are many pedestrians on the streets since the weather is simply gorgeous, the busses are running well, the trains and subways flowing on the Loop, and the boats sailing on sparkling Lake Michigan. I have also been very impressed by the lovely flowers and plantings plus the trees that line many of the streets in downtown Chicago, including the Magnificent Mile of Michigan Avenue. Of course, Chicago is a "foodie's" paradise!

The invited ISMP session that I organized took place this past Monday and was in the Telecommunication and Networks track of paper presentations. Dr. Mauricio Resende of AT&T Bell Labs was the organizer of this track and I thank him for this opportunity. The session was entitled, "Game Theory and Variational Inequalities," and I packed 4 papers into this session. The session took place in the Gleacher Building of The University of Chicago Booth School of Business, which is located in downtown Chicago, close to Lake Michigan. The room in which we spoke was gorgeous with two computer projector screens, three sliding white boards, and lovely corporate tables and dark green, padded chairs.

Yes, the session went overtime, but the audience was willing to give up a part of its coffeebreak -- a true compliment -- to listen to the last talk. As I wrote in an earlier post, two of my former PhD students, who are now professors, Dr. Patrick Qiang and Dr. Zugang Liu, gave talks in my session, with Dr. Qiang speaking on supply chain disruptions and performance and vulnerability analysis, and Dr. Liu giving a talk on our work on electric power supply chains integrated with fuel markets and a large-scale application to New England. I spoke on the Internet as a dynamic network and on network models of oligopolies with insight into the merger paradox.

We had terrific discussions with the audience afterwards.

I was especially gratified to receive an email message from one of the audience members, which said, Thank you for your beautiful and clear talk this afternoon. This message made my day.

Our presentations are available on the Virtual Center for Supernetworks website.

The first paper that I presented was based on joint work with Professor David Parkes of Harvard University and Professor Patrizia Daniele of the University of Catania in Italy, and it was published in the journal Computational Management Science. I also included in my presentation additional results obtained with Professor Qiang, in a paper that has recently appeared in Netnomics. Specifically, we showed how, with the use of the new evolutionary variational inequality model of the Internet and the Nagurney-Qiang dynamic network measure, one can identify the most important nodes and links on the Internet and to even rank them!

The second paper, as I noted above, was on supply chain disruptions, and captured complex behavior in multitiered supply chain networks under cost and demand uncertainty. This paper is an invited chapter and will appear shortly in a Springer volume, edited by Professors Teresa Wu and Jennifer Blackhurst.

The third paper in the session, which I also gave, is in press in Computational Management Science. It extends my work in the network modeling of mergers and acquisitions to the oligopolistic domain, where there is competition among the firms.

Professor Liu gave a wonderful talk on our work on electric power modeling and analysis. The scope of the model, which is for New England, included over 500 power generators, and the model reproduced the actual electric power prices very well. This presentation was based on a paper that will appear shortly in the journal Naval Research Logistics. The articles on which our session talks were based are available here.

This was the 20th ISMP conference to take place with the zero-th one taking place 60 years ago -- also in Chicago! That one marked the historic event at which Professor George Dantzig (see his photo with me below) spoke on the simplex method of linear programming, a revolutionary algorithmic discovery that allowed for the optimal allocation of resources in numerous applications and that is used today by industry, government, corporations, and even the nonprofit sector.

Another aspect of a major conference that I appreciate is that you get to see fellow conferees on the streets of the major city, which is the site of the conference. A few years back I attended a Euro conference in Reykjavik, Iceland, which was considered the biggest scientific conference to that date in Iceland, and everywhere that we went we were greeted by "Hi" and "Hello" from colleagues from around the world.

In concluding this post, I would like to express my sincerest appreciation to Professor John Birge of the University of Chicago Booth School of Business for organizing such an outstanding conference! Coincidentally, we had the pleasure of hosting Professor Birge in our Spring 2008 Speaker Series.