Sunday, February 24, 2019

Very Exciting Talks in Our UMass Amherst INFORMS Speaker Series this Spring from Knowledge Networks to Machine Learning, and Smart Cities and Analytics

One of the favorite aspects of being the Faculty Advisor to the UMass Amherst INFORMS Student Chapter (and since I have had this role since 2004, I must really enjoy it) is helping the students organize the Speaker Series each semester.  There is a lot of planning that goes into this, as well as some serendipity. It is always wonderful to have speakers even reach out to us because they want to speak in our Series. Hosting speakers requires excellent logistics, attention to details, and warm hospitality because one wants to create a pleasant experience for all.

This semester has been extra exciting since we are now holding the talks in our new $62million Business Innovation Hub of the Isenberg School, which was opened "for business" in late January 2019.

Thus far, this semester, we have had the pleasure of hosting two speakers, Professor Aurora Liu of the Isenberg School, who spoke on February 1, and Professor Peter Haas of the UMass Amherst's College of Information and Computer Sciences, who spoke this past Friday.

The posters for their fabulous talks are below.
Next month we will be hosting two speakers, which we are also very excited about: Dr. Jurij Paraszczak and Dr. Thiago Serra. The posters announcing their talks are below.

Interestingly, all of our speakers this semester have had industrial experience - Dr. Liu was a management consultant focusing on mergers and acquisitions in pharma earlier in her career; Dr. Haas spent over 30 years at IBM and is both an INFORMS Fellow and an ACM Fellow (we believe he is the only individual to have earned this two major accolades). Dr. Jurij Paraszczak, is also a long-time IBMer, and Dr. Thiago Serra is now at the Mitsubishi Electric Research Labs in Cambridge, MA, before he joins the faculty of Bucknell University in the Fall 2019!

Both speakers, to-date, have emphasized networks and graphs (near and dear to my heart) and the solution of very large-scale problems on Big Data, including dynamic Twitter data.  They have attracted audiences from the Isenberg School of Engineering, the UMass Amherst College of Engineering, as well as the College of Computer and Information Sciences. The talks have demonstrated the need for the integration of a variety of methodological tools (helpful, if your team and co-authors have such skill sets) from probability and statistics, to graph analytics, optimization, network analysis and centrality measures, algorithm development, including for machine learning, and even stochastic dynamical systems (loved that part, too)!

Many thanks to the Chapter President, Katerina Deliali, for expertly constructing the above posters and introducing the speakers. Also, thanks to our amazing Chapter Webmaster, Haris Sipetas, who so promptly posts writeups and photos after the speakers' visits.

Plus, please visit the Chapter's Youtube channel, where interviews with our great speakers are posted - more coming soon!

And I can't resist also sharing with you a few photos from our first two talks!

Below are photos from Professor Aurora's talk and lunch afterwards.
 And below are a few photos from Professor Haas's presentation and lunch afterwards.
Of course, as is our tradition, we always share desserts!