Saturday, May 5, 2012

Optimal Decision Making

Every day our lives are filled with decision making, as individuals, as professionals, and as members of groups and communities that we belong to.

We are all operations researchers since survival of the fittest requires optimization and if our ancestors had not optimized we wouldn't be around today.

What never fails to fascinate me is the number of applications to which optimization can be applied to make processes and even organizations perform better.

As researchers and scholars it is imperative that we document our findings and I am delighted to report that the special issue of Computational Management Science, edited by Georg Pflug is now out and the theme is Optimal Decision Making.

This special issue, which is volume 9(2) of this journal, is the May 2012 issue. It is a collection of plenary papers from the Computational Management Science conference held in Vienna along with several invited papers. I had the pleasure of giving a plenary talk there.

The special issue has articles on optimization methodologies and applications to energy, marketing, transportation, and blood supply chains. The blood supply chain paper I co-authored with two of my doctoral students, Amir H. Masoumi and Min Yu: Supply chain network operations management of a blood banking system with cost and risk minimization. Blood is a highly perishable life-saving "product" and the optimization of blood banking processes can minimize both costs and wastes while ensuring that demand is met as closely as possible. This paper is part of a stream that we have completed on healthcare applications with the overarching theme of perishable products.

Min recently successfully defended her doctoral dissertation on time-sensitive supply chains and will be receiving her PhD with a concentration in Management Science next week at the UMass Amherst graduation ceremonies.

She will be a faculty member next Fall and will be imparting her knowledge of optimal decision making to a new generation of students.