Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Design of Sustainable Supply Chains for Sustainable Cities

As I wrote in my previous blogpost I am very much looking forward to being in Amsterdam next week to speak at and take part in the Complex-City Workshop.

The program is now available
and support for this workshop is being provided by the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (many thanks).

I will be speaking on a paper that I just completed, Design of Sustainable Supply Chains for Sustainable Cities.

I love cities and over the past few weeks have been to Boston, Paris, Miami, and New York City.

Cities, as dynamic complex networks, are the systems in which more people now live than don't and which represent the economic engines for commerce, research and development, education, health care, and even culture. They have evolved over space and time on built infrastructure from transportation networks to telecommunication and electric power networks.

At the same time, cities are the centers of resource usage from electricity and other forms of energy and fuel, to food, water, and a plethora of other products. Hence, they also are the repositories and generators of waste output and other environmental pollutants, such as carbon and other emissions, sewage, noise, etc.

The term Sustainable Cities has come into increasing use in the past two decades, with a focus of making cities more livable, with an eye not only on the present generation but towards future ones, as well. A recent World Bank report noted that the world is shrinking with cheaper air travel, large-scale commercial shipping, and expanding road networks. Today, only 10% of the globe's land area is considered to be remote, that is, more than 48 hours from a large city. Hence, our world is becoming a network of interconnected cities or a supernetwork of cities.

Urbanization is one of the most pressing and complex challenges of the 21st century, with the citizenry characterized by a growing awareness of a threat to the sustainability of the earth's natural environment, coupled with the increase in the number of people moving into and living in cities.

Supply chains consisting of suppliers, manufacturers, transportation service providers, storage facilities and distributors, as well as retailers, and consumers, serve as the backbones for the provision of goods as well as services on our modern global economy. Supply chains have revolutionized the way in which products are sourced, produced, distributed, and consumed around the globe. They may involve thousands of stakeholders from suppliers and manufacturers to hundreds of thousands of consumer demand points around the globe. Cities are supplied by a complex array of supply chains servicing an immense spectrum of economic activities from food stores and restaurants, office supplies and high tech equipment, apparel, construction materials, as well as raw materials, to name just a few. The sustainability of supply chains is, hence, a precursor to the sustainability of our cities.

According to a Business for Social Responsibility (2009) paper, it is now widely acknowledged that making significant progress on mitigating the impact of climate change depends on reducing the negative environmental impacts of supply chains through their redesign and enhanced management (see also McKinsey Quarterly (2008)).

Furthermore, as noted by Capgemini in its 2008 report: 2016: Future Supply Chain, Preserving energy and raw materials and other resources like water will become a crucial aspect in future supply chains, as costs will likely remain volatile and supplies will continue to dwindle. These conditions may well create substantial pressure on current supply chain models.

Although the importance of sustainable supply chains to the sustainability of cities is being increasingly recognized, in terms of not only the enhancement of business processes in terms of efficiency and cost reduction but also the reduction of negative environmental externalities as well as waste, there have been only limited modeling efforts that capture supply chains within a cities framework. Models of sustainable supply chains are important since they enable the evaluation (before expensive investments are actually made) as to alternative network designs, technologies, as well as sensitivities to cost and demand structures.

A feature of cities that we capture in the new sustainable supply chain network design model is the frequency of freight shipments, and other supply chain network activities, which tend to be higher in urban environments, due to the larger population density. Just think of all the stores and restaurants, to start, that need to be supplied with fresh products. By optimizing the frequencies, one may minimize not only the operational costs and replenishment costs but also the environmental damage (pollution, noise, wear and tear, etc.).

My paper, in pdf format, may be downloaded.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Complex-City Workshop in Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Next week I will be taking part in the COMPLEX-CITY Workshop, in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Each invited speaker/participant will be presenting an original research paper. I have completed my paper,"Design of Sustainable Supply Chains for Sustainable Cities," and am very much looking forward to presenting it and taking part in this workshop in one of my favorite cities.

This workshop is being organized by Dr. Peter Nijkamp and Dr. Emmanouil Tranos and will take place at the Tinbergen Institute/VU University. According to the organizers, the aim of the workshop is to bring together scholars with an expertise at the interface of spatial-urban dynamics and complexity theory. Through a presentation of advanced research papers, the organizers hope to ensure both a stock-taking of the scientific state of affairs in this field and an exploration of new and promising research endeavours. This workshop will be sponsored by the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, and further supported by the Tinbergen Institute and the Department of Spatial Economics at the VU University, Amsterdam.

A more detailed Aims and Scope forwarded by the organizers can be found below.

Aims and Scope of the COMPLEX-CITY Workshop

With half of the world’s population now living in cities and predictions that this will rise to three quarters by the end of the 21st century, cities represent one of the key foci around which important problems in real-world complex systems are clustered. There are clear policy implications for all dynamic urban models being developed. It seems logical that urban policy making should seek to intervene in much more sophisticated ways than hitherto and that complexity theory will provide us with the means for identifying how small changes can lead to dramatic and lasting beneficial effects which are both more equitable and efficient that anything developed hitherto. Pressing problems such as aging and climate change all involve changes in human behavior, particularly travel and social interactions, and our focus here directly identifies both data and models that are pertinent to these complexity issues.

Complexity prompts many intellectual challenges, both conceptually and empirically. The intellectual domain in which the workshop on COMPLEX-CITY is situated, is focused on the development and use of theories and models that explain, simulate and predict the dynamics of cities defined across spatial/geographical scales from the global to the local, from the world city to the village. In the last twenty years, the field has embraced new developments in complexity theory based on the inescapable logic that such systems mainly develop organically, from the bottom up, illustrating fascinating, surprising and sometime chaotic patterns of emergence, which show order al all scales and are hard to understand as anything but the remorseless action of decision-making at the lowest levels. This presents also one of the grandest of challenges to urban policy analysis: current policy instruments are often pitched at the wrong scale, producing methods of intervention which are largely ineffective in that they ignore the essential logic of the way such human systems actually develop.

The workshop has a stock-taking and exploratory nature and aims to identify critical parameters for urban policy analysis with respect to problems of development in large city systems. It will address new developments in complexity theory, based on the existing body of knowledge. What makes this particularly opportune is the fact that massive new streams of data with respect to movement and location patterns in city systems are rapidly becoming available. These are providing the momentum for new developments in theory and modeling which are taking the slow but sure developments of the last twenty years to new kinds of applications relevant to policy making. What is different is that comprehensive data are being routinely collected at the individual level relating to where economic and social activities are carried out in cities and how individuals cooperate and conflict with one another in geographical terms. The prospect exists for the first time of demonstrating how aggregate patterns in cities do actually emerge from bottom-up actions and interactions, linking physical patterns of transportation to social networks, patterns of trade to the flow of information. These developments rely on unobtrusive and automatic data collection using digital technologies that are penetrating every aspect of social and economic life, providing unprecedented possibilities for the analysis of data about human spatial behaviour. This is essential in taking complexity science to the point where it becomes truly applicable in urban policy analysis.

The quest of the workshop is to demonstrate how several long-standing ideas about urban dynamics can be tested and validated using new data sources that provide information about routine decision-making concerning locations and interactions. We envisage that many well-established models of the mechanisms governing how cities change are built around models of reaction-diffusion, which generate both smooth and abrupt change reminiscent of criticality, catastrophe, and chaos, can be tested and extended using new digital data. These range from a synthesis of monetary and social transactions to mobile phone records, electronic ticketing, financial payments, routine compilations of network geometry focusing on infrastructure and locational change, and a host of other data from which value can be easily added through synthesis with other data sets. The workshop will focus on urban models that simulate processes involved in transactional flows ranging from physical movements on transportation systems to information flows associated with phone networks to the assembly of economic data associated with markets.

There are clear links to the resilience and sustainability of city systems with regard to travel and interaction as well as to methods for sensing what is happening in real time with respect to policies that are being implemented. These links have been exploited in complexity theory with respect to spatial/geographical scales but they have not been realised in terms of temporal scales. Thus the workshop will focus on linking frequent to less frequent, and routine events to strategic one-off events, and will provide new ways of examining the link between the micro and the macro.

Photos from the Miami Regional Science Conference

From November 10-19, 2011, my co-authors and I presented papers at three conferences -- from the Regional Science conference in Miami to the INFORMS Conference in Charlotte, to the most recent one, which was a physics conference at UMass Amherst and required no flying! I also spoke on two panels at the INFORMS Charlotte conference.

The conferences were fabulous (and you can get a sense of the Charlotte conference from the blogposts on the conference website that I also contributed to).

Many of our conference presentations on topics ranging from medical nuclear supply chains, to predator-prey ecological networks as nature's supply chains, to blood banking systems, and even fashion supply chains can be found on the Virtual Center for Supernetworks website.

However, since sometimes pictures are worth thousands of words, above I have posted photos from the Miami Regional Science conference.

Congrats to the organizers of all of these conferences -- they were a great success!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Time to Give Thanks at This Time of the Year

I hope that you have had a pleasant Thanksgiving Day and to those colleagues and friends around the globe that do not celebrate this special day, thanks for the friendship and adventures to many lands.

We are part of many communities -- professional, familial, neighborhood, and others, and it is always good to reflect on the people that make the world that we live in stimulating and never dull.

Special thanks to those who always have a kind word and comments of special support and, in the meantime, enjoy this holiday season and time of the year, and take care!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Sustainability of Transportation Networks by Including the Critical Human Element -- Commentary for Resources for the Future

I just heard from Resources for the Future (RFF) that my policy commentary, Designing Transportation Infrastructure to Include the Human Element, has been published.

It is also posted on the RFF homepage
(and should reside there, I am told, for two weeks).

Resources for the Future is a Washington DC non-profit policy think tank, which focuses on environmental, energy, and natural resources issues. The invitation to contribute a piece came after my SAMSI presentation on
Sustainability: Methodology with Applications in Raleigh, North Carolina in September.

In my commentary (with a nice graphic included, compliments of Resources for the Future), I also discuss the Braess paradox and several instances around the globe. The translation of the famous Braess paradox (1968) paper from German to English, which Tina Wakolbinger and I, together with Professor Braess did, is cited in the commentary as well as the preface to the article that I wrote with David E. Boyce (whom I recently had the pleasure of seeing in Miami at the Regional Science conference). Both the translation and the preface appeared in the INFORMS journal,
Transportation Science.

With 7 billion people now on our planet and with the number of cars and other vehicles growing globally, there is a lot that we can and must do together to minimize not only congestion but also environmental emissions.

Friday, November 18, 2011

The Meet the Executive Lecture with Photos

Today we were truly informed by Mr. Dan Viederman, the CEO of Verite', as to corporate social responsibility and global supply chains especially in the context of labor practices.

The problem is that many consumers are completely unaware as to some of the business practices in the countries from which their products have originated.

His talk, "Sweatshops and Slavery in the 21st Century: What Business Can Do," focused on labor practices around the world, which people in the US (as well as other consumers) may not be aware of.

He spoke of what his organization, Verite', is doing to promote a civil society.

He emphasized its work in social auditing, training, and how multinatinal corporations can make decisions that empower consumers.

He noted how people may be working and not be getting paid, be working in horrific conditions in certain countries, and noted that, in the US, it is not illegal for children to work on farms.

He noted that bad labor practices can be improved through both formal and informal regulation.

Companies that were embarrassed when news about how their products were produced changed their processes (think Nike as an example). He noted that Gap had a tremendous leader and that corporate social responsibility was big in San Francisco so the company learned.

The pressure to reduce the price of products is resulting in corners being cut and, oftentimes, at the expense of the workers.

Procurement and purchasing are essential to the supply chain and socially responsible practices in this dimension can make a huge difference. If there are multiple tiers of suppliers and even subcontractors how can the contracting firm know exactly under what conditions the product is being produced by the various workers in the factories?

He emphasized that one needs to talk to the workers and some of the major problems lie in the conditions that migrant laborers are exposed to. They may have to pay a lot of money to obtain jobs in other countries and then may not be paid for weeks at a time or be consistently underpaid. The laborers who have a lot of debt are especially in dire straits.

Verite engages in supply chain interventions and provides a toolkit for companies.

He talked about outsourcing risk (and we have written several papers on this topic but not specifically from the CSR perspective).

I very much appreciated hearing Mr. Viederman speak about the importance of having a systems perspective and to understand the various linkages in a supply chain (this reminded me of the network models that we have been working on).

The UMass Amherst INFORMS Student Chapter did the hosting today and did a terrific job.

The magna cum laude award that the chapter had recently received from INFORMS was displayed along with various treats at a reception before.

The audience was terrific and had really good questions and it was great to see undergrads and grad students in attendance as well as faculty and even staff.

Above are some photos from Mr. Viederman's wonderful presentation today.

Social Entrepreneur of the Year to Speak at Isenberg on Sweatshops and Slavery in the 21st Century: What Business Can Do

Today, the UMass Amherst INFORMS Student Chapter will be hosting Mr. Viederman of Verite in our "Meet the Executive" Speaker Series.

His talk will take place in the Isenberg School of Management, Room 210, at 11AM today.

Immediately prior to his presentation on "Sweatshops and Slavery in the 21st Century: What Business Can Do," we will be holding a reception, beginning at 10:30AM.

At the reception we will be serving coffee and pastries and will have the magna cum laude award plaque displayed, which the chapter was awarded this past Tuesday morning at the 2011 INFORMS Charlotte conference.

Please join us, if you can.

The students (with help from Ms. Ellen Pekar) designed the event flyer above.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Great Red Chair Interview with Yul Kwon on CNN and an INFORMS Connection

I have this uncanny ability to be thinking of someone and then they appear (or at least contact me).

In speaking on the Newsmakers panel at the 2011 INFORMS Charlotte conference this past Monday, which was organized by Barry List, in my presentation I included a photo of being interviewed by Yul Kwon on Broadway last March for the PBS production America Revealed, which should be airing this winter. Yul was the winner of the TV show Survivor (Cook Islands) and is a Stanford and Yale Law school grad. He gave up working as a lawyer (and at the FCC to which he was appointed by Obama) to work on TV.

I got back from the INFORMS conference only to find that Yul was a subject of a CNN Red Chair Interview, with an accompanying article, which mentioned America Revealed in the first line.

The interview is special and emphasizes Yul's Korean American roots, his struggles to fit, and how he is reaching out to others.

I enjoyed talking to him for over 3 hours on that cold March 15, 2011 day and having the experience of being filmed by a great LionTV crew. The conversation focused on the Braess paradox, the closure of Broadway between 47th Street and 42nd Street to vehicular traffic, and basketball.

Yul is not only really smart but he is also really nice and is a great interviewer, as well!

My slide presentation on the Newsmakers panel can be downloaded, in pdf format, here.

The Student Chapter Awards Breakfast at INFORMS Charlotte was Splendid

Mr. Amir Masoumi, who has served the chapter in numerous capacities, holding the award plaque for our chapter

Ms. Mary Magrogan, Professor Barrett Thomas, and Ms. Tracy Byrnes
Speaking about the great resource the INFORMS Speakers Program is

Many of us are still basking in the afterglow of the wonderful 2011 INFORMS Charlotte conference.

One of my favorite events at the INFORMS Annual meeting is the breakfast at which the student chapters are recognized for their activities.

In an earlier post, I noted this year's awardees.

Being at the breakfast is exciting for several reasons:

One gets to see other chapter Faculty Advisors and officers as well as the INFORMS folks, especially Ms. Mary Magrogan and Ms. Tracy Byrnes, who work so hard with the student chapters across the country.

In addition, one gets to see the smiling faces on those who are recognized. INFORMS also gives out the Judith Liebman award and the Moving Spirit Award at this breakfast, in addition to the student chapter awards.

Joining me at the table were two former UMass Amherst INFORMS Student chapter officers and two newly elected ones. We received the magna cum laude award this year -- the fifth time in as many years that we have been recognized by INFORMS for our activities. I might add that two previous officers of our chapter also received the Judith Liebman award from INFORMS and I received the Moving Spirit award, which meant a lot to me.

I also had the opportunity to speak at the breakfast to emphasize the hard work behind our INFORMS Speakers Program this year. INFORMS will be unveiling the new pages soon and we are delighted to have added many new speakers to broaden diversity and geographical representation. We have also included more speakers from industry and are emphasizing analytics, in addition.

I hope that you enjoy the photos above taken at the breakfast this past Tuesday.

Congratulations to everyone and thanks for all the great service and activities!

Students are the profession's future and certainly make the present much more fun.

Please visit our UMass Amherst INFORMS Student Chapter website, which is also engaging social media.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Congratulations to Dr. Nathan Gartner, the Recipient of the Robert Herman Lifetime Achievement Award in Transportation

Dr. Nathan Gartner standing next to me before receiving his award
Dr. Gartner being recognized with the Robert Herman Lifetime Achievement Award in Transportation Science

At the Society for Transportation Science and Logistics meeting at the INFORMS Conference in Charlotte this past Monday evening the 2011 Robert Herman Lifetime Achievement Award in Transportation Science was given.

This award is given every two years and previous recipients are listed on this link.

I have served on this award selection committee and have even chaired it and it is a distinct honor to be recognized in this way. Professor Martin Beckmann, who received this award after Robert Herman (the award is named after him now) was on my doctoral dissertation at Brown University committee. Other recipients include Professor David E. Boyce (whom I had just seen a few days prior at the regional science conference in Miami) and Professors Michael Smith and Michael Florian (I have cited almost all of the recipients in my work).

Although I did not serve on this award selection committee this year (and the awardee's name is kept, more or less, in secret, until the official announcement is made) as soon as I saw Dr. Nathan Gartner from UMass Lowell enter the big room where our business meeting was taking place I knew.

I went up to him to tell him that I had mentioned his name to my students last week in the transportation & logistics class that I am teaching this term since we were covering the elastic demand transportation network equilibrium model and its reformulation using the excess overflow reformulation into a fixed demand model pioneered by him in an article in Transportation Science. He then kindly introduced me to his wife (so I immediately knew that he would be getting the award).

This recognition is also very exciting since Professor Gartner is a Professor at UMass Lowell in the Department of Civil Engineering and he has done so much work over the past 4 decades in transportation -- from traffic flow models to signal setting models and even work, as noted above, on transportation network equilibria.

Above are photos taken of Dr. Gartner this past Monday that I could not resist posting.

I will share this great news with my students tomorrow morning (unless some get a preview by reading this post).

Media Tips from the Newsmakers Panel

First, I would like to thank Barry List, the Communications Director of INFORMS, for organizing the Newsmakers Panel that took place at the 2011 INFORMS Charlotte conference. Barry was a terrific moderator and the panelists and the audience benefited a lot from the presentations and discussions. The session was videotaped.

The panelists were: Jack Levis of UPS, Margaret Brandeau of Stanford, Sheldon Jacobson of the University of Illinois, and yours truly. The panelists have had experience with major news outlets, including the Associate Press, radio shows, TV programs, and documentaries.

Some tips on how to handle the media (and also on how to get the good news out about your research / work):

1. Nurture relationships with your organization's Office of Public Information as well as with those in the media. If you have a publication that will be appearing in a good journal, let the relevant contacts know and work with them.

2. Be prepared: this is very important. When you get contacted by the media you need to be available, so when the news about your work gets out be ready to handle interview requests. There is a short time window. Your organization's Public Information Office may be able to offer valuable assistance and even training as to how to handle interview requests.

3. Realize that the news is about the science behind your research / discoveries. Nevertheless, keep it simple (as far as possible) and be clear.

4. In speaking to the media make sure that you have items (almost irrespective of the questions asked) that you want emphasized. Remember that catchy phrases and counterintuitive results tend to get "picked up."

5. Working with the media is a service and helps to promote not only your work and your organization but perhaps, most importantly, our profession of operations research and analytics.

And, of course, keep up the great work -- sooner or later great work gets recognized!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Leaders Offer Advice on How to be Successful

I very much enjoyed the panel yesterday morning at the 2011 INFORMS Charlotte Conference on "Leaders Offer Professional Advice to Both Women and Men."

The panel was sponsored by WORMS (Women in Operations Research and the Management Sciences).

Joining me on the panel: Dr. Eric Wolman, Dr. Radhika Kulkarni, Dr. Les Servi, and Dr. Mark Daskin.

Below I highlight some of the advice offered that resonated:

1. Find your passion and stick with it -- have fun and make your life worth living.

2. Your character, credibility, and integrity matter -- be fair and others will respect and trust you. Also, realize the importance of your organization's culture and that culture is local.

3. Hire the best people that you can for your team and believe in your plan. Understand the big picture.

4. Celebrate accomplishments and make sure that you give "pats on the back" for great performance.

5. Communications are key -- how can your ideas be used by the organization? Innovation happens when you put great ideas into action. Also, remember the human element.

6. You, as an individual, should define success for yourself so know yourself.

7. Find a great mentor and also mentor others.

8. Take advantage of opportunities and engage in networking. Be open to opportunities and new responsibilities.

9. Realize that you are a member of different communities and gain support from them and solace, if need be.

10. Look at the trajectory that you are on and imagine yourself 5 years from now.

Many thanks to WORMS for sponsoring this great session which also had a terrific discussion!

Thanks to all the panelists -- We all learned alot from them and from one another.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

What a Great Regional Science Conference in Miami

The regional science conference in Miami was a great success.
I especially enjoyed the sessions organized in honor of Professor Walter Isard, the founder of regional science, who passed away several months ago.
The venue at the Hyatt Regency hotel was perfect as well as the style of the conference, which included a discussant for each paper presentation.
I enjoyed speaking about our work on medical nuclear supply chains as well as on the dynamics of predator-prey ecological networks as nature's supply chains (and their relationship to classical spatial price equilibrium problems as well as to multitiered supply chain network equilibrium problems).
It was wonderful to see so many of my wonderful regional science colleagues from around the world at this conference -- there were many hugs and catching-up conversations.
Many thanks to the organizers for such an intellectual feast.
As for Miami, the warmth of the climate as well as the people, plus the gorgeous sights (the hotel is in downtown Miami but there are parks along the water a monorail and amazing skyscrapers) will be hard to leave.
Why do I live in Massachusetts -- perhaps I forgot to include weather as an amenity in my utility function?
My previous trip to Miami was a decade ago -- my first flight and conference after 9/11 and it was to the INFORMS conference.
I am now heading to INFORMS Charlotte, which should be fabulous, as well.
I will be posting many photos after I return to Amherst.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Designing Sustainable Blood Supply Chains

My doctoral student, Amir Masoumi, will be presenting our joint research on the design of sustainable blood supply chains at the upcoming INFORMS Annual Meeting in Charlotte, North Carolina. The presentation, which can be accessed here, is based on the paper of the same title, which is scheduled for publication, we recently heard, in early 2012, in the book, Sustainable Supply Chains: Models, Methods and Public Policy Implications, T. Boone, V. Jayaraman, and R. Ganeshan, Editors, Springer, London, England.

In addition, as I wrote in a recent blogpost, we will also be presenting our research on sustainable fashion supply chains at this conference.

Mary Leszczynsli of INFORMS has now posted the October Blog Challenge Results: O.R. and the Environment and the posts by bloggers in our community is not only informative but illuminating and entertaining, as well. You can access her summary and all the links here.

I contributed two posts to this challenge and wrote about meeting the Nobel laureate Dr. Elinor Ostrom (the only female to have been awarded the Nobel prize in Economic Sciences to-date) and on our research on sustainable supply chains. Enjoy the great writing of my fellow O.R. bloggers from Frommer to Marco-Serrano, McLay, Poppelaars, Serra, Smith, Subramanian, Trick, and Rubin! And let's not forget the Capgemini team!

The quality and sustainability of the environment affects us all.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Sustainable Fashion Supply Chains Using Game Theory

We have conducted a lot of research on sustainable supply chains with applications ranging from products in health care to electric power generation and distribution networks.

An industry, which just recently has started to receive attention because of its impact on the environment, is the fashion and apparel industry.

However, not much research has been conducted as to capturing the scope of the issues and the realities of this industry which includes different brands as well as competition, and even the speed of this industry, as in fast fashion.

A doctoral student of mine, Min Yu, has been working with me in this area for about two years now as part of our research on time-sensitive supply chains, in particular, and sustainability overall.

We will be presenting our latest study, "Sustainable Fashion Supply Chain Management Under Oligopolistic Competition and Brand Differentiation," at the INFORMS Annual Conference next week in Charlotte, North Carolina. This paper is in press in the International Journal of Production Economics, Special Issue on Green Manufacturing and Distribution in the Fashion and Apparel Industries.

In the paper, we developed a new model of oligopolistic competition for fashion supply chains in the case of differentiated products with the inclusion of environmental concerns. The model assumes that each fashion firm's product is distinct by brand and the firms compete until an equilibrium is achieved. Each fashion firm seeks to maximize its profits as well as to minimize its emissions throughout its supply chain with the latter criterion being weighted in an individual manner by each firm, since some firms may care more or less about their impact on the environment.

The competitive supply chain model is network-based and we use both game theory and variational inequality theory for the formulation of the governing Nash equilibrium as well as for the solution of the case study examples. The numerical examples illustrate both the generality of the modeling framework as well as how the model and computational scheme can be used in practice to explore the effects of changes in the demand functions; in the total cost and total emission functions, as well as in the weights.

Our full presentation can be downloaded, in pdf format here.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Data and Analytics Are the New Currency

The science of analytics, coupled with massive amounts of data, is transforming the world that we live in.

Cyber-physical systems, which we have been calling Supernetworks for a decade now, are impacting transportation, the electric grid, health care, complex supply chains, and provide promise for smart cities.

The EE Times has a marvelous article which notes that: According to the U.S. President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, such “cyber-physical systems” will eventually constitute 50 percent of all electronics worldwide, making them a U.S. strategic asset.

In response, the National Institute of Standards and Technology recently announced a standardization effort to define interfaces for interoperability, as well as metrics and methods for measuring and comparing performance among smart systems. Such efforts set the stage for U.S. entrepreneurs to build successful smart systems from homegrown designs, but to realize those designs with electronics that are manufactured at low cost overseas.

Mr. Mario Morales of International Data Corp. (IDC) has a great quote in the article: "Data is the new currency" and he proceeds to say that "Enterprises have yet to figure out how to monetize all this data, but there is a tremendous opportunity here."

I would say that Data and Analytics Are the New Currency, since without analytics not much sense can be made of the massive data streams now available.

Our latest National Science Foundation project, "Network Innovation Through Choice," will, we expect, drive innovation in network choices and options through novel payment systems that monetarize performance based on reputation and success.

Conference Chaining -- From Regional Science to INFORMS

In transportation we talk about "trip chaining," where a driver combines several errands in a car trip.

This week I will be "conference chaining," since I have back to back conferences but at least they are both on the East Coast.

I will be flying on Wednesday to Miami, Florida where I will be speaking at the 58th Annual North American Meetings of the Regional Science Association International.

Then, next Sunday, I will be flying from Miami to Charlotte, NC to take part in the Annual INFORMS Conference.

At the regional science conference, I will be speaking on "Medical Nuclear Supply Chain Design: A Tractable Network Model and Computational Approach," as well as on "Dynamics and Equilibria of Ecological Predator-Prey Networks as Nature's Supply Chains." The latter paper I will be delivering in a special session honoring the memory of Professor Walter Isard, the founder of regional science. It has now been published in Transportation Research E.

This year I chaired the Regional Science Association International Fellow Selection Committee and am looking forward to seeing this honor bestowed on Professor Ake Andersson, who will be traveling from Sweden to receive the fellow plaque.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

The Vulnerability and Complexity of Our Global Supply Chains -- What the Disasters are Revealing

Last week, while I was in Canada to give a seminar on perishable supply chains in health care at McGill University, I picked up a copy of The Globe and Mail, which is the national Canadian newspaper.

I love Canada, and not only because I was born there, but also because of its people, its landscape, history, excellent schools, and health care. Since April I have been invited to give three talks there (two at McGill University and one at the University of Waterloo) and whenever I am back I always feel very welcome and at peace there.

I was very impressed by the coverage of the disruptions to global supply chains due to the horrific floods in Thailand by The Globe and Mail, a week ahead of coverage in The New York Times, I might add.

The article, Why the mad migration of parts to your iPhone matters, was especially interesting and highlighted that it may take a crisis (and we certainly have had our share of disasters this past year) for the complexity of global supply chains to be noted.

The Thai floods are now having major disruptive effects. According to the article, Honda Motor stopped production in Malaysia due to a lack of parts from Thailand. The computer industry is now bracing for a shortage of hard-disk drives after Thai factories were flooded.

Indeed, it is expected that the Thai floods may disrupt global electronic supply chains for several quarters.

The number of deaths from the floods in Thailand has now surpassed 500 so the toll on the loss of lives and human suffering is also huge.

I managed to reach one of our former students from Thailand, who, just this past August, successfully defended his PhD in Management Science at the Isenberg School of Management and was awarded the doctorate officially in September from UMass Amherst.

Part of his response, sent last week:

Dear Prof. Nagurney,

Thank you very much for your concerns.

The flood situation in Thailand is indeed very bad. Some say it is the worst ever in the past 50 years of Thai history.

As I am sure you have seen the news. Lots of agricultural areas have been affected and will be under water for at least 3 weeks, same as half of industrial area of Thailand. In brief, it affects more than 3 million people, they either have to evacuate or else live in an upstair-level of their homes, surrounded by water and disconnected from the outside world. There are now lots of logistic and supply-chain problems, e.g. to get food and other consumer products to people who insist to live there underwater in their homes, or to move people from affected villages to evacuation zones. Worse than that, in my opinion, the government has no experience in dealing with this kind of situation ... Now the water is at the doors of BKK (Bangkok), some have entered! So we now totally freak out and are afraid that BKK will be under water soon. The government even declared a special public holiday last week to clear people out of BKK. Most schools delayed the start of the new semester to 11/15 or even later than that (normally schools start on 11/01). Now BKK is totally paralyzed, people do nothing except wait for the water to come.

In my case, I've already fled BKK to my family hometown (which is still safe from the water). So my family and I are now safe and sound. However, my home in the suburb of BKK is now under water (not totally submerged, but half of it). Fortunately we have moved important stuff out before the water reached.

I think it will take a month or more before everything turns better, but truly hope it is sooner than that. Again, thanks for your kind concerns. I will update you as soon as there is any major news about this catastrophe.

Thanks to UMass Amherst and the Isenberg School and to My Students

It is the 8th day since the unseasonable October snowstorm hit the Northeast of the US and knocked out electric power to over 3 million people.

The electricity has been essentially restored to the Amherst area but there are still thousands of homes in Massachusetts and Connecticut without power including the home of one of my former students, who received 5 degrees from UMass Amherst and is now a professor at the University of Connecticut, which, miraculously, did not have to close during the power blackout. He and his wife and two little children are, since Friday, staying in Springfield, Massachusetts, which was also battered.

I am writing this post to thank UMass Amherst and the Isenberg School.

During the disaster, officially declared, that befell us last week, UMass Amherst, probably because of its electric power co-generation capabilities, and underground utilities on campus, managed to essentially maintain electric power, which meant that there was heat, water, light, and Internet service in the dorms, offices, cafeterias, and many research labs and facilities.

Last Sunday morning, 1 week ago, my husband and I woke up to a freezing house, since we had lost power at around 9:45PM the previous night. Our daughter, luckily, had spent the night at Deerfield Academy, her school, since there had been a special Halloween party that evening.

After donning clothes, and without caffeine in us, we proceeded to drive around to see what our areas had experienced and you can see photos here and read more here.

Above are photos taken last Sunday and Monday of the Isenberg School and the UMass Amherst Berkshire Dining Common, where we ate several dinners and were joined by some of my students.

Special thanks to Ken Toong, the Director of Dining Services at UMass Amherst, for feeding not only thousands of students during this time but also many faculty, staff members, and their children. My husband had a conversation with him and he told him that records were being broken as to the numbers that UMass had fed during this disaster.

Some students had joined us for the meals, which even included a special Halloween meal. Thank goodness that the refrigerators and cooking facilities at UMass never lost power and the meals provided some distractions and nourishment during this difficult week.

Also, thanks for keeping the cafeterias and restaurants open in the Campus Center where we also had delicious lunches and warmth.

Not all communications worked during this terrible week and transportation was also disrupted in a major way as well as our daily lives and rhythms but having a community such as UMass and the Isenberg School demonstrated that we are in this together.

Yesterday was Homecoming at UMass and seeing so many alums and benefactors back reinforced how important it is that we all work together and support one another. Even our new UMass System President, Dr. Caret, came. Although we lost the football game, we won the hockey game and beat the number 1 seed, Boston College.

More importantly, we shared our experiences and were even treated to some much needed entertainment by student musical groups and the Minuteman Marching band.

One of my former MBA students came running up to me during a Homecoming breakfast and melted my heart when he told me what an important role my Management Science course had played in his career success and how now his daughter is a freshman at the Isenberg School.

This disaster has clearly showed us all the importance of community and supporting one another.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

The Irony of Speaking on Perishable Supply Chains on Friday Only to Throw Out All the Food in the Fridge on Wednesday

What a week it has been!

On Friday, October 28, 2011, I had the pleasure of being hosted by the Management Science group at the Desautels Faculty of Management at McGill University, where I spoke on Perishable Product Supply Chains with a focus on healthcare.

In my talk, I presented our recent research on such perishable products in healthcare as vaccines and medicines, as well as medical radioisotopes used in cancer diagnostics and cardiac imaging, and even blood.

The mathematical formulations that I discussed, which ranged from competitive oligopoly models with brand differentiation for vaccines and medicines to system-optimization network models for blood supply chains, with minor modifications and adaptations, can also be used for such perishable products as food.

My presentation, in pdf format, can be downloaded here.

Today is the seventh full day after the October snowstorm hit our area on October 29, 2011 and, unbelievably, still thousands in Massachusetts are without electricity.

Our neighborhood's electricity got restored after 73 hours without power.

However, all of the food in our fridge had spoiled and had to be discarded.

One of my Finance colleagues had the foresight to purchase insurance for this kind of disaster and he will recover hundreds of dollars to compensate him for the perished/spoiled food in his fridge.

Ensuring Electric Power While Preserving Trees and Beauty -- What Deerfield Did

The Historic Deerfield magazine Autumn 2011 cover of a brilliant issue

A photo of a gavel made from a utility pole from Historic Deerfield Autumn 2011 magazine

A photo of the letter from Lady Bird Johnson, wife of President Lyndon Johnson

Thousands in Massachusetts as well as in Connecticut are still without electric power for the seventh day, since the snowstorm hit our area on October 29, 2011, severely disrupting our daily lives, commerce, transportation, and education.

During this horrific week, there have been pockets of salvation, where families could seek warmth, food, and shelter because the electric power still flowed (but only if they knew of where to go).

I have been writing about what has transpired during this past week on this blog and there are new cases of people dying in their homes because of either carbon monoxide poisoning since they were doing what they could to try to stay warm or from hypothermia (freezing to death).

This snowstorm / electric power failure disaster (yes, the government has now declared it officially) happened in October and is now in the second week. It is still autumn and this set of cascading network failures does not portend well for the upcoming winter season (clearly the fact that many of our trees still had leaves on and that the snow was very wet and heavy played a huge role in the downing of the trees and the neighboring electric power lines).

During this period, our mail still got delivered and our local newspaper, the Daily Hampshire Gazette, published a special disaster issue last Monday by using the editorial offices of The Greenfield Recorder, which had power, and having the copy emailed (luckily, the Internet worked there), to a newspaper in Concord, NH, which then printed the issue. Obviously, transporting the issues was not trivial, given the downed trees and power lines.

Our mailman also delivered a copy of Historic Deerfield, Autumn 2011 to us. This is a magazine produced by Historic Deerfield.

My husband read the issue first and told me that I should read it, too, and I was transfixed.

This issue was prepared and published before our snowstorm and electric power disaster and the last article, To Form a More Perfect Deerfield, by David Bosse, has lessons for our country.

The article speaks about how Henry and Helen Flynt became enamored with the beauty of Deerfield, in western Massachusetts, as well as its unique place in US history, when they enrolled their son at Deerfield Academy in 1936.

And, as early as the 1950s, Mr. Flynt started to explore the possibility of burying the utility lines in Old Deerfield in order to remove the utility poles that were marring the beauty of the landscape. He not only cared about the beauty of the area but he also wanted to preserve the stately elm trees. In letters to stakeholders he listed the advantages of removing the utility poles, noting the harm to the trees from the severe pruning done by the electric company.

The stakeholders were convinced -- even WMECO (the Western Mass Electric Company which has been in the news alot due to the pace of restoration in our area) agreed to the plan back in 1966!

According to the article, "By the following spring, power, telephone, and fire alarm service had been buried in a 10,500 foot trench. The last utility pole came down during a ceremony on May 24, 1967."

Incredibly, the Flynts (and one of their great-graddaughters was a classmate of my daughter's up the street at The Bement School), received help for their truly original project from Lady Bird Johnson, the wife of President Lyndon Baines Johnson.

Above is the letter that she wrote to Mrs. Flynt, which was republished in the autumn issue of the Historic Deerfield magazine.

And the Flynts had made gavels as souvenirs out of the utility poles that were removed.

45 years after, Old Deerfield survived the snowstorm and both historic Deerfield and Deerfield Academy did not lose electric power (and, somehow they also survived the one in 500 years flood due to Hurricane Irene).

My daughter, since we had no electricity and the night temps dipped to the 20s, lived at Deerfield Academy, during this period, and slept on the floors of dorm rooms that her friends kindly shared.

Let's improve our critical infrastructure by burying the utility lines, while preserving trees, beauty, as well as our air, at the same time.

Thanks to the Flynts for their brilliance and to Historic Deerfield for the wisdom and courage of historic preservation as well as critical infrastructure protection!

Friday, November 4, 2011

6 Days After the Snowstorm and Some Still Without Electricity

The October 29, 2011 snowstorm surprised the Northeast last Saturday and thousands in Massachusetts are still without electricity.

This is day 6 after the snowstorm (see the photos taken last Sunday of our street in Amherst). I will spare you the photos of the downed trees and broken branches that are now revealing themselves as the snow is melting.

I have many colleagues and neighbors with young children and babies, as well as those who are senior citizens, who have had to endure what one does not expect to happen in the United States of America!

The electric power in our immediate neighborhood was restored three days ago (we were awaken by some lights as we had hunkered down under piles of blankets and woolly hats and were overjoyed to get heat back and lights and the Internet in our home).

My former doctoral student, who lives with his family and young children in West Hartford, Connecticut, still does not have power and my husband's university in Connecticut has held no classes for undergraduates all this week.

Our public schools in Amherst have been closed this entire week; the same holds for many of the neighboring school districts in Massachusetts and in Connecticut.

Such a serious, long-term disruption is a huge wake-up call to the leaders of our so-called civilized society and a Call to Action.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

In Defense of My Chinese Students

You may have read The New York Times article, which was written in collaboration with The Chronicle of Higher Education, entitled, The China Conundrum, which notes that, because of the reputation of he US higher education system, among other reasons, the number of Chinese undergraduates in the United States has tripled in just three years, to 40,000, making them the largest group of foreign students at American colleges.

The article, however, is very negative and highlights the use of intermediaries or education "agents" who are helping certain families in China, who have the financial funds, to navigate the US college admissions systems, and to have the writing of the college application essays "outsourced."

The article also singles out the University of Delaware and has quotes from its President, Dr. Patrick Harker, who many of us in the operations research and management science community know quite well. Not only was he a Dean of the Wharton School at UPenn but he was also the editor of one of our flagship journals, Operations Research.

And, as I sometimes tell my graduate students, he even did research and published on traffic network equilibrium and variational inequalities. You can see some of our common references and citations to each other's work in our earlier publications.

Harker, as President of the University of Delaware, started the Path to Prominence there in which a more international student body is being emphasized, including having more students from China.

The challenges now being faced are vividly noted in the article, as the population of Chinese students has grown from a handful to hundreds at Delaware.

I am writing in defense of the Chinese students that I know and have worked with personally over many years. (As an aside, one of our neighbors graduated from the University of Delaware last year and received a fabulous education there. In addition, we know of several from our area who applied but then decided to come to neighboring colleges instead). Furthermore, a person I truly admire who is head of the lower school at The Bement School, my daughter's elementary school alma mater), Ms. Carole Pennock, is an alumna of Delaware.

I am writing about my doctoral students.

Our program at the Isenberg School of Management at UMass Amherst is highly selective and each and every doctoral student that we admit in Management Science is interviewed, typically, by several faculty members. Yes, that consists of multiple long telephone conversations (sometimes unannounced) to China and other countries and, if feasible, face to face meetings or personal recommendations from colleagues in the US who might have met with the prospective students. Also, we follow up with the writers of the letters of recommendation.

My doctoral students from China have done path-breaking research and now many are professors themselves at US universities. They have garnered national and international research awards and are also outstanding teachers.

Three of the books that I have co-authored, have been co-authored with my former Chinese doctoral students: Supernetworks: Decision-Making for the Information Age, with Dr. June Dong, Projected Dynamical Systems and Variational Inequalities with Applications, with Dr. Ding Zhang, and Fragile Networks: Identifying Vulnerabilities and Synergies in an Uncertain World, with Dr. Qiang "Patrick" Qiang.

Other doctoral students that I have had from China, including Dr. Zugang "Leo" Liu and Dr. Jie Pan, with whom I wrote articles for such top journals as Operations Research and Naval Research Logistics, did truly brilliant research. Dr. Jie Pan had listened to 4 hours of English radio in China daily before matriculating at UMass Amherst and his English was so good that, even as a graduate student, he was asked to teach at Amherst College.

Presently, I am supervising several doctoral students from China and we all work closely with one another at the Supernetwork Center.

I cannot ask for a more conscientious, well-spoken, hard-working, and reliable set of students.

I forwarded The China Conundrum article to my present students from China, knowing that it would be painful for them -- as it was for me -- to read.

I repost below parts of a message that I received, in response.

Professor Nagurney:

I had heard of this even when I was in China. Some parents are so happy to pay huge amounts of money for the consulting.

However, students who really have an idea about what they are going to do in the future, and why they are coming to the US, will not let the agencies do their admissions and decide on their future. I know some students whose parents are very wealthy and, surprisingly, they want to come to the US for fun, luxury, traveling, and a "beautiful" degree. They have asked the agencies for help. Study and research are obviously not their main concerns here..

They are taking this precious study opportunity for granted.

People make their own choices.

Sometimes we need money to buy education, but we cannot use money to insult education.

My daughter is now a senior in High School and is applying this year to colleges.

I hope that when she is in college she has a chance to learn from faculty as outstanding as the above professors (as well as my doctoral students) who were born in China!

Of course, as we all know, college admissions are a selective process.