Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Analytics and Operations Research -- Learning from One Another

As professionals in our data-driven economy, our methodological tool sets and applications continue to expand and to evolve and we continue to create new synergies through collaborations and partnerships.

I was recently invited to keynote the 2011 PAKDD Knowledge Discovery and Data Mining Conference in Shenzhen, China, which took place, May 24-27, 2011. At first, I responded that I do not do research in data mining, but when the organizers persisted and said that the audience can learn from me, I agreed. I also thought that it would be a great forum in which to discuss some of the research that my group was involved in. After I provided a list of possible topics, the organizers selected: Supernetworks: Opportunities and Challenges for Decision-Making in the 21st Century, and it can be accessed and viewed here.

This experience further reinforced the importance of learning from one another, as noted by the PAKDD conference organizers, and, indeed, one of the most effective means in stimulating interest in a topic (and learning) is through speakers and their talks.

For example, at UMass Amherst, through our INFORMS Student Chapter, we have hosted numerous speakers from academia, industry, and government, and across disciplines, who have spoken on timely topics, all with an analytics theme. Computer Scientists march across our campus to attend, even in the winter, and folks have traveled from Vermont, Boston, and even New Jersey to hear our speakers. At times, we have been overwhelmed by the attention, especially when news and TV crews show up.

Now, I have the honor of chairing the INFORMS Speakers Program, with Dr. Tim Lowe and Dr. Les Servi assisting me. An article on this program that also highlights some of the new initiatives should be appearing in the next issue of Analytics.

By learning from one another and doing the best work possible is how we will move Analytics and Operations Research forward and have a great time, as well!