Saturday, August 17, 2013

Very Special Tribute to the Memory of an Operations Research Professor Even by a Nobel Prize Winner

Who has not been inspired, supported, or mentored by a special teacher or professor?

I will forever be grateful to my doctoral dissertation advisor, Professor Stella Dafermos, who gave me a lifetime of advice as my Professor at Brown University but who only lived until age 49.

About 3 years ago, I was asked to contribute to a volume in the Annals of Operations Research in honor of Professor Cyrus Derman, who was a leader in the rise of the Department of Industrial Engineering and Operations Research at Columbia University. The invitation came from Professor Michael Katehakis of Rutgers University.

However, during the preparation of the volume, Professor Derman passed away in April 2011 at age 85,  so the volume became a memorial volume, which has now expanded to two volumes.

I recently received the following message from Professor Mchael Katehakis, whose doctoral dissertation advisor was Professor Cyrus Derman.

We now have 50 (!) accepted papers and about 1000 pages. Contributors include: L. Shepp (Wharton), I. Olkin (Stanford), A.F. Veinott Jr. (Stanford), E. Denardo, (Yale), D. Bertsekas (MIT), A. Federgruen (Columbia), R.R. Weber (Cambridge), P. Kolesar (Columbia), P. Zipkin (Duke), H. Vincent Poor (Dean of Engineering School, Princeton Univ.), K. Sigman (Columbia), Flora Spieksma (Leiden) , L.C.M. Kallenberg (Leiden) M. Sobel (Case), Adi Ben Israel (Rutgers), S.M. Ross (Univ. of Southern California and emeritus of Berkeley), A.N. Burnetas (Athens Gr.) W. Powell (Princeton Univ.), Onésimo Hernández-Lerma (Mexico), Feinberg E. (SUNY) , C. Eaves (Stanford)   Melamed, Katehakis (Rutgers)  and many others.

The paper that we contributed to the volume, and that we worked very hard on, is: Supply chain networks with global outsourcing and quick-response production under demand and cost uncertainty, Zugang Liu and Anna Nagurney, in press  in the Annals of Operations Research. Our paper will appear in the first volume.

More information can be found in: Optimization under uncertainty: costs, risks and revenues-  Cyrus Derman memorial volume I Michael N. Katehakis, Sheldon M. Ross, Jian Yang,  who are the Guest Editors.

A very touching tribute to Professor Derman, also scheduled for the memorial volumes, and which contains photos, is:

And, not to be missed, is the following: Some memories of Cy Derman by Alvin E. Roth.
Professor Roth, who was an Operations Research (OR) major at Columbia, and received the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences in 2012, along with Professor Lloyd Shapley, writes in the above essay:
In the manner of undergraduates, I didn’t have a clear idea of what my teachers did. But I recall admiring Cy Derman’s attitude: he seemed not to take himself too seriously. I recall he wore turtleneck shirts and talked about tennis, and summers at Stanford. When it came time to think about graduation, Cy urged me to think about grad school in OR, and volunteered to write a letter for me. Some time later, in a reflective moment, he said something to me like “I wrote you a very good letter. I’m not exactly sure why; you didn’t do all that well in your courses. But I have a feeling that you might be good at research.” Cornell and Stanford were the programs he recommended, and when I was accepted at both, his preference was clear, and I followed his advice, which set me on a path I’m still following.

We look forward to its publication, which I am told, should be soon!