Thursday, August 20, 2009

Mathematical Programming Symposium in Chicago and Reflections

We are getting ready for the International Symposium on Mathematical Programming, which will be taking place in Chicago, August 23-28, 2009. This Symposium marks the 60th anniversary of the 0-th such symposium, which also took place in Chicago. The conference is held every three years.

I have organized an invited session on Game Theory and Variational Inequalities, which includes papers on dynamic modeling of the Internet, supply chain network disruptions and vulnerability analysis with performance assessment, mergers and acquisitions among oligopolistic firms and the merger paradox, and the modeling and solution of electric power supply chains with applications to New England. The presenters in this session are: Professor Patrick Qiang, Professor Zugang "Leo" Liu, and yours truly. I have posted the presentations on the Virtual Center for Supernetworks website.

This will be a very special conference for me. I recall my first Math Programming Symposium when I was a fairly fresh PhD and the conference was at MIT in Cambridge, MA. My dissertation advisor, Dr. Stella Dafermos of Brown University, had recommended that I attend this conference and I recall fondly my excitement about presenting a single-authored paper on computational comparisons of spatial price equilibrium problems (which later was published in the Journal of Regional Science). I have always loved working at the interfaces of operations research / management science and economics. Lo and behold, a few minutes into my presentation, who comes running into the room, but none other than Professor George Dantzig of Stanford University, who is considered the founder of "operations research." He apologized for being late, I caught my breath, and proceeded with my talk. Afterwards, Professor Dantzig came up to me and told me that he had been working on such problems and he thought that my approach was great. Needless to say, his support and special thoughtfulness and kindness I have carried forward with me from that moment on!

Above I include photos of Professor Dantzig with me taken a few years back and also a photo of Professor Stella Dafermos, two giants of operations research (although height-wise they were certainly not "tall"). You can read more about Professor Dantzig, who lived to the age of 90, here.

I am delighted that two of my recent PhD students, Dr. Qiang and Dr. Liu, will be with me at this Math Programming Symposium and will be presenting papers. How wonderful to have history repeating itself!