Thursday, January 28, 2016

Emergency Management at a University

A university is an ecosystem with many interacting parts.

The resiliency of a university depends on the procedures and practices in place for emergency management.

Today, we had the pleasure of hearing Mr. Jeff Hescock, the Director of Emergency Management and Business Continuity at UMass Amherst, in my Humanitarian Logistics and Healthcare class at the Isenberg School. He was a terrific Professor for a Day!
Mr. Hescock's described how his group, with many partners at UMass, prepares for a variety of emergencies, both man-made and natural ones, and assesses a page of risks that can affect students, research, energy, and infrastructure, to start. He also spoke of the emergency alert system, which includes text and email alerts, as well as sirens, and postings on the UMass homepage. The importance of relaying timely information was emphasized as well as post incident discussions and evaluations.

The National Weather Service recently awarded UMass Amherst a Storm Ready designation, the first public university in Massachusetts to receive this designation.

I also very much enjoyed his discussion of mitigation in terms of identifying flood plain regions and potential power outages. Luckily, we have our own power plant on campus but it can only generate about 60% of the university's needs. hence, there are generators in place at crucial locations.

UMass Amherst also works closely with the ton of Amherst in emergencies especially in terms of planned events (the Super Bowl, concerts at the Mullins Center, for example). Also, there are strong relationships with the other colleges in our 5 college system.

A major part of his presentation covered the response to the Boston Marathon bombing that took place at UMass Dartmouth, when he worked at the UMass President's office, because one of the perpetrators was a student there. This event emphasized vividly the importance of having best practices in place, including evacuation and sheltering. Many of the students, who could not go home, once UMass Dartmouth was evacuated, were sheltered at a local high school.

How a university responds to an emergency and deals with the news media can also have far-reaching impacts on its reputation.

UMass Amherst regularly runs different emergency exercises, including a sheltering exercise a few years ago that several of my students and I observed. This year, in April, it will be building a healthcare crisis exercise, inspired by outbreaks of meningitis at various campuses last year (at Princeton and the University of Oregon, for example).

Mr. Hescock's presentation can be downloaded here.

Clearly, the importance of information sharing, collaboration, and  great teamwork were highlighted. And, of course, when it comes to business continuity, one can't underestimate the importance of information technology as well as shelter and food for students!

Many thanks to Mr. Hescock for such an illuminating and educational guest lecture today.

Students benefit greatly from ghearing from practitioners.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

The Most Impactful Papers in Transportation Science in 50 Years - A Walk Down Memory Lane

I was absolutely delighted when INFORMS sent out an announcement last Friday that it was making available for free download the 12 Most Impactful papers published in the journal Transportation Science in its 50 year history. These papers are listed below in chronological order.

According to the Transportation Science website: The selection was guided by the following principles. Even though overview and survey articles are important, valuable, and often highly cited, they were excluded. Highly cited papers (either in terms of total number of citations or in terms of number of annual citations) were prime candidates. However, the impact of an article is not always captured by the number of citations, so a few articles have been included because several editorial board members felt they needed to be. In the end, the articles represent most, but not all, the research areas that have contributed and continue to contribute to the success of the journal.

Seeing the list of papers brought back so many memories and the list includes such major themes in transportation as traffic assignment and network equilibrium, location theory, network design, and vehicle routing, plus even pedestrian crowd dynamics. Below, I reflect on the impact of the papers as well as the authors I have met and some I have come to know very well.

The first paper is: An Algorithm for the Traffic Assignment Problem, S Nguyen; Transportation Science 8 (3), 203-216, 1974. I met Sang Nguyen at the first conference I ever attended as a doctoral student at the University of Montreal. This paper, and those that followed, addressed algorithms for one of my favorite problems in transportation! The model formulated and solved was one in which you could reformulate the traffic assignment problem as a convex optimization problem.
The second paper,  On Stochastic Models of Traffic Assignment, CF Daganzo, Y Sheffi, Transportation Science 11 (3), 253-274, 1977, is another great classic.  Carlos Daganzo was the recipient of the 2013 Robert Herman Lifetime Achievement Award in Transportation Science. He was also elected into the National Academy of Engineering. He has supervised numerous doctoral students, many of whom are good friends of mine. Incorporating stochastic elements into traffic assignment was a big innovation. Yossi Sheffi I have known for many years and I had an office down from him when I was at MIT in the Center for Transportation under the Visiting Professorship for Women program. I am also a big fan of his books, including The Resilient Enterprise. The last time that I saw Yossi was in Zurich, Switzerland, when he and I were both invited speakers at the ETH Risk Workshop on Vulnerability and Resiliency of Supply Chains in September 2013.

Carlos Daganzo also has another paper on the list of classics, paper number 6: The Distance Traveled to Visit N Points with a Maximum of C Stops per Vehicle: An Analytic Model and an Application, CF Daganzo , Transportation Science 18 (4), 331-350, 1984

The third paper on this list of classics is especially near and dear to me since it is by my PhD dissertation advisor at Brown University, Stella Dafermos:  Traffic Equilibrium and Variational Inequalities, S Dafermos, Transportation Science 14 (1), 42-54, 1980. Here you can see who has cited this great paper. Seeing the list I had to reminisce since several of the papers I had co-authored with Stella and many others with my doctoral students as well as collaborators appear there.

Below, in her memory, I have posted two photos of Stella.

The first one below,  was taken when I was with Stella at a conference in her beloved Greece, back in 1987. The second photo was taken at the International Mathematical Programming Symposium, August 28-September 2, 1988, in Tokyo, Japan. I am sure that many of you recognize that we are standing with George L. Nemhauser (more on George later in this post. Sadly, Stella passed away on April 4, 1990. Her legacy lives on.
Since the above three papers were also influenced by the book, Studies in the Economics of Transportation, Beckmann, McGuire, and Winsten (1956), I had to include below a photo of myself with Beckmann (who was on my dissertation committee at Brown) on the beach in Australia, taking a break at one of my favorite workshops ever in Mallaccootta. This photo was taken in December 1992.
Daganzo is not the only one with two papers on this esteemed list. A hearty congratulations also go out to Mark Daskin. He also has two, the first being:  A Maximum Expected Covering Location Model: Formulation, Properties and Heuristic Solution, MS Daskin, Transportation Science 17 (1), 48-70, 1983 and the second paper being number 11:   A Joint Location-Inventory Model, ZJM Shen, C Coullard, MS Daskin, Transportation Science 37 (1), 40-55, 2003. Mark is renowned for his work in location theory. I have served on several committees with him and also applaud him for his support of females in OR/MS! The second co-author in the paper above is a female. Below is a photo of Mark with transportation colleagues that many of you will recognize (Marius Solomon, Gilbert Laporte, Teo Crainic, and Hani S. Mahmassani). We awarded Michael Florian the Robert Herman Lifetime Achievement Prize that year.
The next classic paper on the Transportation Science list is: Network Design and Transportation Planning: Models and Algorithms, TL Magnanti, RT Wong, Transportation Science 18 (1), 1-55, 1984. This paper as all the others on the list is fundamental and tremendously inspiring and, may I even say, useful! Tom Magnanti, another NAE member among  authors on this list, needs no introductions. Wong was his student at MIT. Tom was a great friend and mentor to Stella Dafermos and continues to be to numerous colleagues in Operations Research and Transportation Science.

The next paper was written by another co-author of mine:  A Column Generation Approach to the Urban Transit Crew Scheduling Problem, M Desrochers, F Soumis,  Transportation Science 23 (1), 1-13, 1989. When I was a Visiting Scholar at the Sloan School at MIT in 1989-1990, I had the pleasure of interacting with Magnanti, Orlin, and so many faculty who are not only outstanding but so nice! Francois Soumis was also a visitor at MIT at that time and we wrote the paper: A Stochastic Multiclass Network Equilibrium Model, which was published in Operations Research.

The next classic paper is:  The General Pickup and Delivery Problem, MWP Savelsbergh, M Sol, Transportation Science 29 (1), 17-29, 1995. Savelsbergh and I were elected INFORMS Fellows in 2014 with some other wonderful colleagues.

And, speaking of academic small world phenomenon, Savelsbergh is a co-author, with one of my former doctoral students, Dmytro Matsypra, of a paper on network design!

Paper number 9 on this list is: A Tabu Search Heuristic for the Vehicle Routing Problem with Soft Time Windows, É Taillard, P Badeau, M Gendreau, F Guertin, JY Potvin, Transportation Science 31 (2), 170-186, 1997 . As I had mentioned earlier, vehicle routing is an extremely important class of transportation problems. The third author, Michel Gendreau, I have known and enjoyed speaking to, going back to my days as an Assistant Professor. And, for his exceptional work, Michel, at our most recent INFORMS meeting in Philadelphia, was honored with the Robert Herman Lifetime Achievement Award. I took the photo below at the TSL meeting there.
And for all of you who love air transportation, paper number 10 is: Flight String Models for Aircraft Fleeting and Routing, C Barnhart, NL Boland, LW Clarke, EL Johnson, GL Nemhauser, RG Shenoi, Transportation Science 32 (3), 208-220, 1998.  What a terrific group of co-authors! Nemhauser, I have already mentioned earlier, and the first author is Cynthia Barnhart, who is now the Chancellor of MIT. She is a member of the National Academy of Engineering, as are Ellis Johnson and George. Both Cynthia and Ellis we had the pleasure of hosting at the Isenberg School through our great UMass Amherst INFORMS Speaker Series. The photo below I took of Cynthia after her talk with our wonderful students at that time back in 2005.
Below is a photo of Ellis Johnson after his presentation at the Isenberg School in 2009. My colleague, Senay Solak, was a doctoral student of his at Georgia Tech, and continues to work on airline problems.
And since Nemhauser is a co-author, below I have posted a photo from last year's INFORMS Computing Society conference at which he gave a great keynote talk.

The twelfth paper on the list is: Self-Organized Pedestrian Crowd Dynamics: Experiments, Simulations, and Design Solutions, D Helbing, L Buzna, A Johansson, T Werner,  Transportation Science 39 (1), 1-24, 2005. I know the first author of this paper, since not only was he with Sheffi and me at the ETH Zurich Risk Workshop, which he was involved in organizing, but, last March, he was one of my hosts when I gave a plenary talk in Berlin, Germany! Below is a photo of Dirk Helbing at the workshop in Berlin last March before his talk.
Congratulations to all the authors of these classic papers and thanks for the opportunity to walk down Memory Lane!

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

The Criticality of Transportation in Disaster Relief and Humanitarian Operations

The new semester has begun and I am delighted to again be teaching my Humanitarian Logistics and Healthcare class at the Isenberg School of Management. As I mentioned in a previous post, I am also busy co-editing a volume on Dynamics of Disasters with two great colleagues.

A theme that is resonating time and time again with me when it comes to disaster relief and humanitarian operations is that of the criticality of transportation.

The below poster I have on my office door. It was prepared courtesy of the American Mathematical Society (AMS) when I was interviewed by Michael Breen for a Mathematical Moments podcast on my earlier research on humanitarian supply chains. The podcast can be accessed here.
Transportation is essential to disaster relief and humanitarian operations, which also includes recovery in the disaster management life cycle. Transportation is used in the evacuation of people, animals, etc., in anticipation of a disaster. It is fundamental to needs assessment at the disaster sites, once the disaster strikes, to determine the extent of casualties and survivors' demand for necessary relief supplies. It is even an essential component for supply collections from donors or places of procurement. Finally, transportation in often very challenging environments to points of demand can involve multiple different modes of transportation with great time pressures, followed by last mile deliveries. And, when it comes to recovery post a disaster, the removal of debris and detritus due to the sustained damage cannot happen without transportation, as well as the followup rebuilding. the former was a huge issue post the Haiti devastating earthquake of 2010, as vividly captured in a New York Times OpEd by our Georgia Tech operations research colleagues.

Given the importance of transportation in this space there have arisen partnerships between private companies and  humanitarian organizations as well as the well-known Denton Program, for private U.S. citizens and organizations to use space available on U.S. military cargo planes to transport humanitarian goods to countries in need. I am delighted that one of the highlights of my class will include speakers from the Westover Base in Chicopee who will be discussing military logistics and the Denton Program.

My most recent study, Freight Service Provision for Disaster Relief: A Competitive Network Model with Computations, to appear in Dynamics of Disasters, I.S. Kotsireas, A. Nagurney, and P.M. Pardalos, Eds., Springer International Publishing Switzerland, focuses on freight service provision, under competition, for  disaster relief. Therein, I argue the importance of capturing nonlinearities associated with transportation in humanitarian operations to capture congestion as well as competition and even material convergence.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Looking Forward to Speaking at Yale at its Network Science Institute

The new semester begins at UMass Amherst on Tuesday. It will be a very busy semester but a thrilling one. Besides teaching two courses at the Isenberg School, I will also be hosting speakers not only in my classes but also through the UMass Amherst INFORMS Student Chapter as its Faculty Advisor. Plus, I will be traveling to give invited lectures at various universities and companies.

I very much enjoy traveling to different locations and giving talks and always come back with new ideas, an expanded professional network,  wonderful memories, and, sometimes, even adventures. Plus, what could be better than interacting with faculty, students, and practitioners that come to your presentations?

The first invited seminar that I am giving in 2016 will be at Yale University. Although I have given talks at such Ivy League schools (at some of these multiple times) as: Harvard, Brown, Cornell, and UPenn, I have never before spoken at Yale. For this reason, and quite a few others, I am quite excited about speaking there on February 17, 2016.

Since my host at Yale will be the Network Science Institute, it will be extra special to be surrounded by those who share my passion for networks!

I am speaking in the Yale Institute for Network Science (YINS) Distinguished Lecture Series and the title of my presentation is: "Supply Chain Networks Against Time: From Food to Pharma." The abstract and announcement YINS has already graciously posted.  My presentation will be videotaped. The lecture and Q&A will take place from noon until 1:30PM.

I have started working on my presentation, which I will be polishing over the next couple of weeks.
The Directors of the Institute for Network Science are Professor Nicholas A. Christakis and Professor Daniel Speilman. The Executive Director is Dr. Tom Keegan. The Faculty in Residence at the Institute represent many different disciplines from Engineering and Computer Science to Sociology, so I will do my best to have something fascinating for each of them. The Directors have done extraordinary research that has also been widely covered by the media. The YINS Distinguished Lecture Series has hosted such network science colleagues as Albert-László Barabási (whom I had dinner with on October 30,2015), Matthew O. Jackson of Stanford, and Jennifer Chayes of Microsoft Research, among others.

Also, I expect to see the INFORMS President, Professor Ed Kaplan, there, which will be an additional highlight of my visit to Yale.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

On Writing and Editing Books

This is my first blogpost of the New 2016 Year.

I thought it fitting to write about an activity that I have been engaged in both last year and this year and that has also obsessed me ever since I wrote my first book - Network Economics: A Variational Inequality Approach, which was published by Kluwer (now Springer) in 1993, and the second edition of which appeared in 1999.

This blogspot is about writing and editing books.

I was also inspired by an article in The New York Times, "Bill Gates: Billionaire Book Critic," which highlighted what a voracious reader Bill Gates is, who reads books on quite technical and scientific topics, and then comments on them (he only blogs about books that he enjoys) on his blog: Gates Notes. Of course, books mentioned on his blog experience what is known as  "Gate's Bump" in terms of sales - reminiscences of Oprah Winfrey's effects on book sales of a while back.

This past year, I was very busy writing the book, Competing on Supply Chain Quality: A Network Economics Perspective, with Dong Li, which will be out within the next month. The book is being published by Springer International Publishing Switzerland. The book is the second volume in the new Springer Series on Supply Chain Management.  The editor of this book series is Distinguished University  Professor Christopher S. Tang of UCLA's Anderson School of Management. My co-author, who is an Isenberg 2015 PhD alumna, and is now an Assistant Professor of Supply Chain / Operations Management at Arkansas State University, and I are very excited about the book's upcoming publication. It is 400 pages in length and represents a half decade of our collaborative research. There will also be an ebook version available.

Writing books (all of my books, thus far, have been nonfiction, since they are scientific monographs) is challenging but as Professor Dimitri Bertsekas of MIT told me years ago, and whose eminent advice I follow: "Anna, when you have 5 to 10 papers on a topic, you write a book." On December 9, 2015, I had the pleasure of giving an invited seminar at MIT, and Professor Joe Sussman of the Transportation and Logistics Center there and I had a wonderful conversation, which included the writing of our books. He noted that if you think that you are 95% finished you still have a ways to go and that is so true -- that last leg of writing a book, which involves so much checking and paying extensive attention to details, can sometimes seem the most onerous.

The Competing on Supply Chain Quality book is my twelfth book.
In the meantime, 2016 promises to be extra exciting because I am also involved in co-editing a book on Dynamics of Disasters, with Springer also as the publisher. Although I have edited books alone, in particular the Innovations in Financial and Networks, published in 2003, and the Annals of Operations Research (hardbound) volume on Advances in Equilibrium Modeling, Analysis, and Computations, published in 1993, the Dynamics of Disasters  book I am co-editing with Distinguished University Professor Panos M. Pardalos of the University of Florida and Professor Ilias Kotsireas of Wilfrid Laurier University. The volume is based on refereed papers submitted and presented at the conference on the same theme that we organized and which took place last summer in Kalamata, Greece with additional invited papers from experts in the field.

In editing a book, selecting good referees is important and the reports need to be done in a timely manner. At the same time, one wants to make sure that there is both breadth and depth in the contributions. Authors also, hopefully, revise their papers without delay. An edited volume can bring different perspectives to a topic and I enjoy having contributors from many different countries as well as contributions, in this case, from practitioners, because of the theme of the book. Having such responsive and wonderful co-editors also makes for a very enjoyable book editing project!

When it comes to editing a book, sometimes a publisher will help out in making sure the stylefiles are consistent and, at other times, the onus is on the editor to even put the references in a consistent manner.  Some publishers help with the stylistic editing whereas others do not. Editing a book can take longer than writing one, since in writing a book, the authors have more control and the work and output only depends on them.

Three of my books were single-authored, five of my books (including the Competing on Supply Chain Quality book) had one co-author, one book had two co-authors (both females), and one book (my shortest one) had three co-authors!  And, as I mentioned before, two books I edited myself, and the forthcoming Dynamics of Disasters book, I am co-editing with two colleagues.

I hope that part of my legacy will be the books that I have written. At the very least, some of them are my most highly cited publications, so I know that there is value to them and the hard work is worth it. I especially appreciate when students from around the world thank me for writing books.

Happy New Year to my readers! Best of luck with your writing projects.