Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Stockholm and the Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden

We took the high speed train from Gothenburg to Stockholm on Sunday and returned yesterday evening riding in a first class compartment. During the train rides the scenery of lakes, birch forests, and rolling green hills made for a perfect backdrop against which we relaxed and caught up with a lot of reading. Yesterday, since we were riding in the first class train car, which was worth the extra 10 dollars or so per ticket,  we even got served  hot drinks and brownies and there was fresh fruit available at the head of the car.

As I had written in my previous post, I had been invited to give a talk at the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) in Stockholm, an invitation that I could not refuse.

My host was Professor Lars-Goran Mattsson who is head of the Department of Transport at KTH. I was treated to a delicious lunch, got to see such colleagues as Dr. Po Lindberg, who had recently earned his second PhD and has made academic history, as well as Dr. Leonid Engelson, and to meet another guest speaker that day, Dr. John Abraham from Calgary in Canada. What a coincidence that the speakers were both born in Canada!

With my talk on Perishable Product Supply Chains in Healthcare and John's presentation afterwards on Spatial Interaction Modeling, we had a mini-workshop with many great questions and discussions. Given that the date was June 18 and that Swedes are soon celebrating Midsommer, a big holiday, which they take very seriously, it was terrific to see such an engaged audience.

We discussed math modeling issues and possible extensions along with short term and long term equilibria as well as the importance of time and time scales. I was more focused on a particular sector -- that of healthcare, whereas John was describing his work on the city level and his project with the city of Baltimore.

To see research with both theoretical content and practical implications is very exciting to me, as an operations researcher, network scientist, and computational economist. Yes, I believe in algorithms and not purely closed form solutions for problems, because the data can be messy and the functions not simple.

Since my husband and daughter had come to visit me in Gothenburg, where I am now a Visiting Professor of Operations Management, and we had lived in Stockholm of three different occasions, we had a chance to explore the city as well.

After I return to the US, I will post many photos of Stockholm. Stockholm has resurrected one of its tram lines, which is great. In Gothenburg, trams snake through the city and are a marvel to watch and are just one form of the public transportation modes in this second largest city on Sweden.

It was interesting to see that the new transport links that will change the freight flows (with many trucks) around the Wenner Gren Center, where we have lived, should be completed around 2015. We also noticed the increase in traffic, with more honking, as well as the increase in the pace of life in Stockholm (which my Gothenburg colleagues had told me about) since we last lived in  Stockholm a decade ago.

Nevertheless, my daughter's favorite restaurant, Cyprus, was still there, as was our favorite pastry shop, complete with the Princess tortes.

We even peaked through the gates to the daghis (Swedish daycare) to which she had gone and dined for lunch of salmon, carrots and dilled potatoes. Yes, in Sweden, the daycares have chefs and cooks!

The beauty of Stockholm, with the water, the greenery, and the architecture of the buildings lining the archipelagos is breathtaking.

We even had a chance to visit the Museum of Modern Art with a Yoko Ono exhibition.

Last night, when we returned to Gothenburg, Sweden beat France in Euro 2012 with a score of 2-0. However, it still did not make the quarterfinals of this fabulous soccer series, which is taking place in Poland and Ukraine. Ukraine, however, lost, because Rooney of England scored the goal.

It has been a series of blue and gold and it has been fabulous to follow the soccer games here in Europe. I have been getting personal updates from Ukraine from a colleague and a former doctoral student of mine who is Ukrainian.