Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year for Business Analytics and Operations Research with Resolutions!

I hope that you have recovered from your New Year's Eve celebrations and are off to a fabulous start of the New Year!

Due to the blizzard of 2010, my family and I did not make it to NYC (and neither could many of our friends fly in) so we will not be attending the Salute to Vienna New Year's Concert 2011 in Lincoln Center with a ballet from Ukraine today, but my 92 year old uncle, who now lives in Manhattan, and was one of only three employees to show up at the bridge design engineering firm where he still works last Monday, will be there!

So, instead of being in NYC, I began 2011 in Amherst with a big bowl of blueberries, Greek yogurt, and muesli, and a delicious cup of Starbuck's coffee (a Christmas gift) and settled down to checking my email when my attention got pleasantly diverted from all the e-list renewals by the blogpost, New Year's Resolutions from Dr. O.R. Field, by Dr. Mike Trick.

I had reflected on last year's events in a recent blogpost, and, frankly, marveled at how many of the highlights were professional conferences around the globe where not only do colleagues reconnect and present their latest scientific discoveries but also exchange personal and professional stories and they do so in exciting venues.

Mike Trick, in his on target post, written with a lot of wisdom and humor, in an interview format, nails the celebratory events of our profession and calls them parties, right in the spirit of the season! He writes: Look at the parties I throw every year (that is “professional meetings” when discussing reimbursements with department heads). The last party I threw in Austin drew more than 4600 people! I remember ten years ago I would hold two parties a year and be lucky to get 2000 at either one of them. Any (of) my European parties (and what parties they are!) are also breaking records every year.

I concur and when I think of what I am looking forward to 2011 -- tops are the terrific conferences that will take place in 2011!

Thanks also to Mike for bringing out the fact that females add so much to both the leadership of INFORMS as well as to so many of its fun and rewarding professional activities from panels organized by WORMS to one of my favorites at the annual INFORMS conference -- the WORMS luncheon (which is a must get-together for many of our PhD graduates, male or female).

The success of Operations Research and Business Analytics is based on the discoveries, achievements, and accomplishments of its professionals, and the numbers (including students) that are attracted to it. The challenges facing our world today cannot be fully addressed nor resolved without the brainpower (past, present, and future) of our field.

The downside of the blizzard and the transportation disruptions was that we did not go to NYC; the upside was that we stayed back in Amherst to a landscape of great snow-covered beauty and tranquility and I wrote a paper on a topic that I had been researching for over a year. All the pieces fit together from the theory to the algorithm and the numerical examples and I was able to show the equivalence between two network equilibrium systems in economics and ecology and the paper cites the first paper (on spatial price equilibrium) that I ever published in the journal Operations Research and it was with my dissertation advisor at Brown, Stella Dafermos. There is nothing like the "Aha!" moment, which makes one soar intellectually (and emotionally)!

So when the going gets tough, go and do research!

Let me end with the beginning quotes from Oh! The Places You'll Go! by the incomparable Dr. Seuss, the nom de plume of Theodor Seuss Geisel, who was born and raised in Springfield, Massachusetts, graduated from Dartmouth College, and received his doctorate from Oxford University:


Today is your day.
You’re off to Great Places!
You’re off and away!

You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself any direction you choose.
You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.

You’ll look up and down streets. Look’em over with care. About some you will say, “I don’t choose to go there.” With your head full of brains and your shoes full of feet, you’re too smart to go down a not-so-good street.

And you may not find any you’ll want to go down. In that case, of course, you’ll head straight out of town. It’s opener there in the wide open air.

Out there things can happen and frequently do to people as brainy and footsy as you.

And when things start to happen, don’t worry. Don’t stew. Just go right along. You’ll start happening too.

Oh! The Places You’ll Go!

You’ll be on your way up!
You’ll be seeing great sights!
You’ll join the high fliers who soar to high heights.

Happy New Year to everyone!