Saturday, December 19, 2015

Congratulations and Kudos to the Supernetwork Team for a Great 2015!

Every year around this time I prepare a new page for the Supernetwork Center site noting some of the achievements of its Center Associates over the past 12 months.

As the Center's Director, reflecting on the Associates' accomplishments is always enjoyable and helps us to synergize our energies as a team and to take on new challenges in the coming year.

2015 was an exceptional year in terms of grants, research accomplishments from humanitarian logistics to cybersecurity, awards and recognitions received, as well as impact of our work.  Below I provide a few of the highlights.
Center Associate Dong "Michelle" Li successfully defended her doctoral dissertation at the Isenberg School of Management on May 4, 2015 and the title of her thesis was  "Quality Competition in Supply Chain Networks with Applications to Information Asymmetry, Product Differentiation, Outsourcing, and Supplier Selection."  She is now an Assistant Professor of Supply Chains / Operations Management a the College of Business at Arkansas State University and was featured on her university's homepage.  The 400 page book, Competing on Supply Chain Quality: A Network Economics Perspective, authored by Michelle and me will be published by Springer in February 2016. In addition, our recent research on supply chain competition in quality and supply chain performance assessment and importance indicators appears in the following publications:
A General Multitiered Supply Chain Network Model of Quality Competition with Suppliers, Dong Li and Anna Nagurney, International Journal of Production Economics 170: (2015) pp 336-356, and

Center Associate Professor Tina Wakolbinger of the Vienna University of Economics and Business in Austria serves as  the Head of the Research Institute for Supply Chain Management there. Her research project funded by the Austrian Science Fund (FWF) is on: Optimal Pricing and Contract Design in Humanitarian Logistics and will continue until 2016. A writeup on her research on humanitarian logistics appeared in scilog, a publication of FWF.  At the EURO conference in Glasgow, Scotland, July 11-14, 2015, she organized the invited session: Coordination and Cooperation in Humanitarian Supply Chains, at which Center Associates Professor Amir H. Masoumi of Manhattan College  presented a paper with Center Associate Min Yu of the University of Portland, and me entitled: "An Integrated Disaster Relief Supply Chain Network Model with Time Targets and Demand Uncertainty." The paper appears in the edited volume: Regional Science Matters: Studies Dedicated to Walter Isard, P. Nijkamp, A. Rose, and K. Kourtit, Editors, Springer International Publishing Switzerland (2015), pp 287-318. The Nobel laureate and renowned economist Paul Krugman also has an invited chapter in this volume.

Center Associate Professor Patrizia Daniele of the University of Catania had a very eventful year scientifically.  In addition to organizing the stream “Recent Advances in Dynamics of Variational Inequalities and Equilibrum Problems”, for EURO 2015, Glasgow, she was also a  Member of the Program Committee of the 2nd International Conference on Dynamics of Disasters, Kalamata, Greece, June 29 – July 2, 2015 and a Co-director of the International Workshop “Variational Analysis and Applications", Erice, Italy, August 28 – September 5, 2015.  I had the pleasure of co-organizing the Dynamics of Disasters conference, along with Professor Panos M. Pardalos of the University of Florida and Professor Ilias Kotsireas of Wilfrid Laurier University in Canada. Professor Wakolbinger was also on the Program Committee and presented a paper there.  I presented the paper: A Mean-Variance Disaster Relief Supply Chain Network Model for Risk Reduction with Stochastic Link Costs, Time Targets, and Demand Uncertainty, co-authored with Center Associate Professor  Ladimer S. Nagurney of the University of Hartford, which will appear in Dynamics of Disasters, I.S. Kotsireas, A. Nagurney, and P.M. Pardalos, Eds., Springer International Publishing Switzerland. Indeed, we are now in the process of editing a volume on the theme of the conference, under contract with Springer.

We completed our 4 year National Science Foundation (NSF) project on ChoiceNet: An Economy Plane for the Internet. This project was part of NSF's Future Internet Architecture (FIA) program with our grant titled: NETS Large: Collaborative Research: Network Innovation Through Choice.The University of Massachusetts Amherst was the lead and Professor Tilman Wolf, Associate Dean at the College of Engineering, and I collaborated with our colleagues at the University of Kentucky, NCState, and RENCI. Isenberg School Doctoral Student Canter Associate Sara Saberi was funded by this grant for two years. Sara last year was selected to take part in the doctoral colloquia at POMS, at INFORMS in Philadelphia, and at DSI in Seattle. She also received a WORMS (Women in Operations Research and the Management Sciences) Travel Award to attend the Philadelphia conference. She successfully defended her doctoral dissertation proposal in 2015.

In addition, we were very pleased to receive another grant from NSF, working again with Professor Tilman Wolf, at UMass Amherst. We continue to collaborate with our University of Kentucky colleagues. The new project, funded under the EAGER program,  is: EAGER: Collaborative Research: Enabling Economic Policies in Software-Defined Internet Exchange Points.

Center Associate Professor Patrick Qiang received tenure and was promoted to Associate Professor at the Graduate School of Professional Studies at Penn State University so big congratulations are in order!  He was the track chair in International Business at the NEDSI conference in Cambridge, MA in March 2015.

The INFORMS Conference in Philadelphia, November 1-4, 2015, served as a wonderful venue at which many of the Supernetwork Center Associates organized sessions and delivered papers, including: Professors Jose M Cruz of the University of Connecticut and Trisha Anderson of Texas Wesleyan University, who continue their great work on supply chains, sustainability, and corporate social responsibility, collaborating often with Center Associate Professor Zugang "Leo" Liu of Penn State University Hazleton. Professor Dmytro Matsypura of the University of Sydney Australia also presented at this conference as did Center Associates Professors Min Yu, Dong Li, and Amir H. Masoumi, and Doctoral Student Center Associates Shivani Shukla and Sara Saberi. 

And, at the INFORMS Philadelphia conference, the UMass Amherst INFORMS Student Chapter, which I have served as the Faculty Advisor of going on 12 years now received the Summa Cum Laude Award from INFORMS at a special ceremony. Many Center Associates, who have been doctoral students at the Isenberg School of Management, have served as officers of this Student Chapter.

Professor Cruz has had another truly exceptional year and in 2015 received the following awards from the School of Business at the University of Connecticut:
· 2015 PMBA OPIM Teacher of Year
· 2015 Distinguished Service Award
· Ackerman Scholar, 2014-2016.

2015 was a very significant year for our work in cybersecurity. Doctoral Student Center Associate Shivani Shukla was very busy presenting our latest cybersecurity research at a variety of venues. She was awarded a first prize for her poster by the Air Force Association on September 22, 2015 at UMass Lowell. The title of her poster presentation, which was joint with Professors Daniele, Ladimer S. Nagurney, and me, was: "A Game Theoretic Model for Cyberecurity Investments with Nonlinear Budget Constraints."

We published several papers on cybersecurity in 2015:

A Supply Chain Game Theory Framework for Cybersecurity Investments Under Network Vulnerability, Anna Nagurney, Ladimer S. Nagurney, and Shivani Shukla, in Computation, Cryptography, and Network Security, N.J. Daras and M.T. Rassias, Editors, Springer International Publishing Switzerland (2015) pp 381-398;

A Game Theory Model of Cybersecurity Investments with Information Asymmetry, Anna Nagurney and Ladimer S. Nagurney, Netnomics 16(1-2): (2015) pp 127-148;

A Multiproduct Network Economic Model of Cybercrime in Financial Services, Anna Nagurney, Service Science 7(1): (2015) pp 70-81.

Many thanks to the Supernetwork Team for another tremendous year!

Some additional highlights of our activities can be found on the Supernetwork Center's media page.

For our recent publications, click here.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Building a Great Community Through the UMass Amherst INFORMS Student Chapter

This week is final exam week at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and students and faculty are extra busy.

Nevertheless, as has been our tradition for the past 12 years,  at the end of each semester the great UMass Amherst INFORMS Student Chapter always hosts an end of the semester party.

Because last Friday there was the Isenberg School Reindeer Seminar party, we scheduled the student chapter party for today. Many thanks to the officers, especially to the President, Zana Cranmer, for making the party happen and for facilitating the logistics behind it. The chapter has the best officers and members who hail from both the Isenberg School of Management and the College of Engineering at UMass, with the Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, especially the operations research faculty and students being well-represented, and the Management Science PhD students from Isenberg and the Operations and Information Management faculty. I have had the honor and true pleasure of being the Faculty Advisor to the Chapter for the past 12 years.

Even though some of our students had exams today - I also had to proctor my class's exam, and some of our members  also proctored exams, they showed up for the party.

The food was delicious. We brought two types of pierogies - cabbage and mushroom and potato andcheese, as well as kielbasy, and a tray of pastries. There were all sorts of vegetables, salads, breads, fruits, and many desserts plus apple cider.  We were so busy talking and eating that I did not manage to photograph the spread of foods.

We took a group photo.
And then it was time with a small ceremony to unveil our new poster for the bulletin board on the first floor of the Isenberg School of Management that the students had designed and had had printed. We had to remove two layers of previous posters (we felt like archaeologists) and the photos underneath made me quite nostalgic.
Some of the photos (I saved all of them) are featured below, and include images of such amazing people in Operations Research and the Management Sciences that we have hosted in our Speaker Series as Professor Ed Kaplan of Yale, the present President of INFORMS, Professor Richard Larson of MIT (who was Kaplan's advisor at MIT), Professor Georgia Perakis of MIT, and even Professor Dietrich Braess of Braess paradox fame.
And then we took a photo next to the new poster for the UMass Amherst INFORMS Student Chapter!
It's wonderful to have such a great community at UMass Amherst! Many thanks to the chapter officers for their hard work and for organizing events that are not only educational but also fun!

Happy Holidays to everyone and best of luck with the rest of the final exams!

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Great Book Signing Party for "Raising the Race" by Professor Riche' J. Daniel Barnes at Deerfield Academy

Yesterday, was the last day of classes at UMass Amherst for the Fall semester  and there were two special occasions - one was our Reindeer Seminar, which is a party at the Isenberg School of Management following the faculty and staff meeting. Both the Faculty meeting and Reindeer Seminar were filled with positive energy and the great sense of community that Isenberg is.

The other special event took place at Deerfiel Academy, another truly special educational institution at the high school level.

My husband and I were invited to a book party and signing there by Dr. Riche' J. Daniel Barnes. She is the author of the recent book, "Raising the Race," which was published by Rutgers University Press.

The book is about Black career women redefining marriage, motherhood, and community.

This was a party that we could not miss.

Not only is Dr. Riche' J. Daniel Barnes a professor at Smith College, but she is also a Bement School trustee (as is my husband), plus her husband, Mr. Darnel Barnes, was my daughter's Algebra II teacher at Deerfield Academy.  I knew she would be in great hands since he holds both undergraduate and Master's degrees from Georgia Tech with one Master's being in Operations Research!

The venue was the Caswell Library at Deerfield Academy and it was replendant with holiday decorations.

We enjoyed a reading by the author and the Q&A part. As a mother of 3 children I think that Dr. Daniel Branes should also write a book on how she managed to write this book!

The book we purchased, had it signed, and when I got back to Amherst I immediately started to read it.
It was great to see neighbors at the event, as well as Mr. Thomas-Anderson, another amazing teacher at Deerfield - of English - at the party. He was a Rhodes Scholar and I know of one former student, who is now a Professor at Northwestern University, who still has dreams about his vocabulary tests!
Dr. Margarita Curtis, the Head of Deerfield Academy, came up to chat with us, and I told her and thanked her about the great education my daughter received there. My daughter is now a college senior - hard to believe and is a STEM major - I could not be prouder.
The reception was also fabulous including the desserts!
Congratulations to Dr. Riche' J. Daniel Barnes on the publication of "Raising the Race!" Thanks for such a memorable evening.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Had a Great Time Speaking at MIT on Perishable Product Supply Chains from Food to Pharma

Yesterday I had the pleasure of delivering the Pierce Lab Seminar at MIT. My great host was Professor Carolina Osorio, who is doing fundamental research in transportation with wide impact in practice.

My seminar, Supply Chain Networks Against Time: From Food to Pharma, was given in Room 1-131 at 4PM and although it is the last week of the Fall semester both faculty and students came. MIT prepared the lovely poster announcing my talk. My presentation can be downloaded here.

Wandering the halls of MIT and the infinite corridor it was interesting to see how much had and had not changed since I had spent two years there. I had been back to give talks and also co-organized a workshop at the Sloan School in September 2014, as I have blogged about, but it was nostalgic to be back in Building 1! Many faculty still have the same offices and I got to see my former office in the Center for Transportation and Logistics.

The hospitality extended to me was wonderful and Professor Osorio's assistant, Rebecca Fowler, is a UMass Amherst grad, so that made my visit extra special..

After my seminar, which was preceded my meetings with faculty, I was treated to a delicious dinner at Kendall Square. Amazingly, 5 restaurants had to be called before a place was booked because so many high tech companies in Cambridge were renting entire restaurants for their holiday parties! We ate at the Commonwealth restaurant and my starter salad was exquisite!

The dinner conversation was also fabulous. We talked about business analytics, associated curricula at MIT in new degree programs that are being developed, the doctoral program at the Operations Research Center and a new one being established,  as well as strategies for promotion and tenure.

And the dessert to top off a perfect day included an apple and cranberry fruit cobbler (warm) with homemade vanilla ice cream on top!

The day and evening were so pleasant and so relaxing and I came back energized and very satisfied and happy.

Plus, I received some wonderful news upon my return to Amherst which I hope to share soon!

Monday, December 7, 2015

All Set to Speak at MIT on Supply Chain Networks Against Time: From Food to Pharma

I have been enjoying working on my presentation: Supply Chain Networks Against Time: From Food to Pharma, that I will be giving this coming Wednesday at MIT.

My host is Professor Carolina Osorio in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at MIT.

I will be speaking as part of the Pierce Lab Seminar Series.

The topic is very near and dear to me - without food or medicines for those who need them, people would not survive. Moreover, many of such "products" are perishable, so that poses extra challenges in terms of the associated supply chains,

I will be focusing on a series of models that we developed, emphasizing their generalized network structure with the use of arc multipliers since these products as they flow down the links of the supply chains perish accordingly. My plan is to highlight work that we have done on food, medical nuclear supply chains, and blood supply chains, as well as on electric power generation and distribution networks, plus a case study in the pharmaceutical industry. Some of the models we presented and solved numerically in a recent book of mine:
The last time I gave a talk at MIT was on September 19, 2014, when several colleagues and I co-organized the Workshop on Cybersecurity Risk Analysis for Enterprises at the Sloan School.

I was a Visiting Associate Professor at MIT in the same group that is hosting my talk on Wednesday as part of a great program that the National Science Foundation then had - Visiting Professorships for Women (VPW). My dissertation advisor at Brown University, Professor Stella Dafermos, had also held one of these NSF VPWs before me. I enjoyed teaching a course there in transportation, having an office in Building 1, and, the year after, upon the receipt of a UMass Amherst "Conti" Fellowship moved to the Sloan School as a Visiting Scholar. That Spring, sadly, Stella Dafermos passed way.

It will be great to be back at MIT to see operations researchers, engineers, and even some friends on the policy side!

I am very much looking forward to seeing colleagues and students there!

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Holiday Cookie Baking in a Kitchen Repaired After the Worst Winter in 180 Years!

Tis the season!

Nothing spells the holiday season to my family and me as the baking of cookies post Thanksgiving.

The cookies we give out to neighbors and friends as a thank you for their friendship throughout the year.

This year, it has been a bit challenging since some of you may recall that the winter of 2015 was the worst winter in Massachusetts in 180 years in terms of snow and record cold temperatures! Plus, there were many homes damaged in the Amherst area due to ice dams on the roofs, including ours.

Luckily, our contractor, who is great and likes us,  managed to repair both our family room and kitchen, both of which sustained major water damage through flooding last winter. Some of the major repairwork began in our kitchen on the first day that I was teaching this Fall and the flooding happened last March. The past few months have been an experience in terms of observing project management in action and all the things that can go wrong (it took 2 months for the new fridge to finally arrive after we placed the order) and also right (we loved the new kitchen floor and granite countertops although our daughter, who is majoring in geology, says that it is actually another kind of rock).

This baking season was the first in which we used our new stove and appliances and, frankly, it took a while to even find some of the baking trays and other items, which had been put away during the repair and remodeling work.

Last night we did the shopping for all the cookie ingredients and this morning woke up with a lot of enthusiasm and the plan in place.

As an operations researcher, I love to do things efficiently and, in that way, you can also get more done in the time allotted!

This morning, with great music in the background, the cookie baking project took place, and soon we will be delivering the first batch.

By lunchtime, most of the cookies were baked and that included the pecan sandies, cherry-centered almond cookies,  chocolate-dipped macaroons, mitten sugar cookies, nut chocolate rum balls, and raspberry jam filled Swedish cookies, the recipe for which I got from my wonderful administrative assistant, Wivvian, back at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden (where I spent the past 4 years as a Visiting Professor).

I love the logistics of baking cookies, from the shopping for the ingredients, to the project layout, to the baking, decorating, and delivery to our neighbors and friends!

It was interesting baking cookies in the new oven but the day was a success.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

The Fun of Public Speaking and Giving Invited Seminars

When faculty (or students) complete research, it is important to disseminate it.  Of course, one should always disseminate research results through publications such as journal articles, OpEds, and, if you have a substantive amount around a central theme, even through books. Speaking at conferences is another wonderful way in which to share one's research and also to get feedback on it.

Another great venue at which to share your research and to educate is through forums such as invited seminars that many departments within colleges and universities organize and hold at regular intervals.

If you have a great talk (or, better yet, since sometimes it is more fun not to be repeating oneself even if the faces in the audience are different, several talks) and are willing to travel, then, when the right invitations come, giving an invited seminar can be great fun.

You may get to go to places that you might not otherwise have gone to and meet new colleagues and students during your travels and also learn about other schools and their challenges.  I recall giving the Kleber-Gery lecture at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota, where the faculty have survival gear, including snowshoes, in their car trunks. I was put up in a hotel where Jesse James stayed and I got the bridal suite, complete with a canopy bed!  I spoke at the University of Oklahoma as part of their Dream Course series, instituted by President Boren and was put up in my own villa with multiple rooms decorated with U. of Oklahoma paraphernalia.

I have also given quite a few invited seminars abroad in other beautiful locations such as Stockholm and Gothenburg, Sweden, Vienna, Austria,  and in Catania, Italy. Some of the questions I received from the audiences have turned into research problems that we are now pursuing. The food was also amazing in all those locations and the hospitality!

Other very enjoyable experiences I have had, in terms of speaking engagements, were through the INFORMS Speakers Program. I have traveled to Dallas to speak at SMU through this program, where the audience consisted of academics, students, and practitioners, many from the airline industry, and also to Boston to speak at the Boston INFORMS Chapter with my wonderful host, Dr. Les Servi of MITRE.  For the former presentation, I made it with just minutes to spare - the taxi driver was asking me for directions to SMU  and I had never been there, plus it was after 7PM and pitch dark!

Every audience that you speak to generates new ideas for you and that has something to do with the give and talk of a lively seminar.

Sometimes the invitation to speak may come from an organization or venue, which is unique and also very rewarding. Examples of the latter that I have had have included being a panelist at the World Science Festival on Traffic in NYC and also a panelist on Transport and Traffic at the New York  Times Energy for Tomorrow Conference, also in NYC, with a theme of Building Sustainable Cities. One member of the audience, from Toronto, at the former venue still communicates with me and told me that my panel and presentation changed his life! This year's Energy for Tomorrow conference is taking place in Paris next week under heightened security.

At times the audience may even be a bit "frightened" of your talk. When I organized a team residency at Rockefeller Foundation's Bellagio Center on Lake Como in Italy back in 2004 and was there for 2 weeks, my group, which consisted of three females - we were the first Operations Research group invited for a residency in the center's 50+ year history, gave a talk to other Center Fellows, who included civil rights activists, poets, and even a Lincoln historian. Some were a bit scared that we would be showing some math. I think that we made our talk quite enjoyable but then, to me, networks can be a global language. A similar experience I had while speaking on Dynamic Networks at Radcliffe Institute at Harvard University, while I was a Science Fellow there in 2005-2006.

In my previous blogpost, I wrote about how thrilled I was that so many students showed up to my game theory and cybercrime seminar late in the day just  two days before Thanksgiving, when the talk was not even required and no faculty member was taking attendance!  Now, that was an energizing experience and so rewarding.

I will be busy on the lecture circuit over the next few months.

This coming Wednesday, I will be speaking in a Cyber Security Faculty Seminar Series at UMass Amherst (no travel reuiqred). The week after, on December 9, 2015, I will be speaking at MIT in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering Seminar Series. I was invited to speak there last year but I was booked with travel and other professional commitments so am very glad that I can do it this academic semester.

On February 17, 2015 (I picked the date), I will be giving a Distinguished Lecture at Yale University in its YINS  (Yale Institute  for Network Science) seminar series, which I am very much looking forward to!

Then the day that our spring break begins, March 11, 2015, I will be speaking at the University of Buffalo (the invitation came before UMass Amherst's football team beat Buffalo's and knocked them out of a bowl game). The seminar series is the Praxis Seminar Series and it was very neat to see Michael Trick, a fellow blogger and INFORMS Fellow,  will be speaking there later this week and my colleague, Sundar Krishnamurthy, who is the chair of the Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering at UMass Amherst will follow me in this seminar series (Maybe it is because the U. of Buffalo is located in Amherst (NY)).

I have also agreed to speak at Carnegie Mellon University of April 4, 2016.

Many thanks to all those who extended such wonderful invitations!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Talk on Game Theory and Cybercrime Attracts Students from Freshmen to PhD 2 days Before Thanksgiving

When I received the invitation to speak in the Security and Privacy Seminar Series at UMass Amherst I was intrigued. The invitation came from a sophomore student whom I had met through UMass Hackathon activities by the name of Jordan Kaplan. Jordan is from Florida and has such charisma, so with some consistent prodding on his part, I had to say "Yes!"

However, the only date that I could make it was today, November 24, which, mind you, is two days before Thanksgiving, so I figured, very likely, there might be hardly anyone in the audience.

This seminar series is not part of a course and noone is forced to attend.

Hence, the only way you will have an audience is to have an intriguing topic.

I had taught my Transportation & Logistics class this morning although certain faculty cancelled classes so that students could start their journeys before the heavy travel onslaught. I enjoy teaching that class a lot. Many of my students showed up this morning.

The topic of my seminar today was: "Game Theory and Cybercrime." I was told, as the flyer below also states, that "the lectures will be taught to students with a freshman level science and math background."
When I showed up to the room for the seminar, I asked the students as they were arriving what year they were. Well, I had freshmen, sophomores, juniors, seniors, and PhD students in the audience - that was a unique audience, I must say.  There was also one female student.

I thanked the students for showing up. Giving the lecture was incredibly energizing. Of course, I love the topic and could discuss some of our most recent research  It was so much fun! My full lecture can be downloaded here.

Afterwards, we continued the discussions, and I was thrilled to have students from electrical and computer engineering, chemical engineering, and computer science, amongst others, attend. Noone forced them to come - they were there because they wanted to be and that was the best kind of audience!

I even got a chance to speak to some students afterwards who will be competing in the $1,000,000 Hult Prize competition, which starts at UMass Amherst on December 8. They asked me whether I could brainstorm with them, which I agreed to do, but after Monday, since I am, besides celebrating Thanksgiving, also working on correcting galleys for a 400 page book, "Competing on Supply Chain Quality: A Network Economics Perspective," that I wrote with Dong "Michelle" Li.  Our publisher, Springer, emailed us the galleys this morning, and wants them corrected by next Monday! Luckily, Michelle is now in Amherst so we planned our strategy. Below is a photo of Michelle and me in my office with a printout of the book and both of us standing underneath my academic genealogy tree which she gave me that goes back to Maxwell, Newton, and Galileo!
Thanks so much to all the students who showed up this afternoon. The intellectual curiosity was inspiring to me.

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!

Monday, November 23, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving - The 2015 Fall Edition of The Supernetwork Sentinel is Now Online

This is the time of the year when families and friends are looking forward to the very special holiday that is Thanksgiving.

There is a lot to be thankful for and especially during times when there is so much strife and suffering in the world it is important to acknowledge those who make a difference in your life.

I very much enjoyed the OpEd in Sunday's New York Times by Arthur C. Brooks: Choose to Be Grateful. It Will Make You Happier,  in which he even cites studies of the benefits of being grateful.

Besides a wonderful family, colleagues, friends around the world, a great business school and university that I teach at, I very much enjoy working with my students and collaborators through the Virtual Center for Supernetworks. Three tines a year the Center produces a newsletter, The Supernetwork Sentinel,  which highlights our activities during that period.

I am pleased to announce that the 2015 Fall Supernetwork Sentinel is now online.

I marvel at how much the Supernetwork Team at the Isenberg School of Management manages to accomplish through great collaborations and support of one another. This is the  37th edition of the newsletter. All of them can be viewed on the Supernetwork Center site.

I wish all those celebrating Thanksgiving a wonderful, restful, and delicious holiday! Thanks for your encouragement throughout the year.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Remembering Herbert E. Scarf of Yale, Great Economist and Operations Researcher - Rest in Peace

This past Tuesday, while teaching my Transportation and Logistics class at the Isenberg School of Management, a class that I love to teach, we were discussing the importance of identifying conditions that guarantee uniqueness of equilibria. I had presented an extended model of transportation network equilibria and we were analyzing it qualitatively.

In order to emphasize to the students  the importance of uniqueness (I was focusing on link flows),  I related to the students a wonderful workshop that I had spoken at, which took place at Stanford University.  The workshop was entitled: Applied General Equilibrium Workshop and it took place March 11-12, 1988. My presentation was  (I checked on my cv): "Variational inequalities and the computation of large-scale equilibria."

I mentioned to my students how exciting it was for me to see George Dantzig there, Curtis Eaves, the Nobel laureate Kenneth Arrow, and also Herbert Scarf.  My dissertation advisor at Brown University, Stella Dafermos, was also there and we were the only two females that had been invited to take part. Strangely enough, I even recall now, although the workshop took place back in 1988,  what Kenneth Arrow was wearing (one of his favorite plaid shirts),  and Herb Scarf's shoes, which, for some reason, impressed me because they were stylish and looked so comfortable. I recall them as being beige Rockport shoes.  The audience, when I spoke about Wardrop's two principles of travel behavior, thought I had said "Wardrobe equilibrium", which Stella and I thought was very funny.

At the workshop we also discussed conditions for uniqueness, which was judged to be a very important property for policy makers when it came to equilibrium problems and a Harvard economics professor was especially avid on this point. The workshop was an intellectual delight and one of the last times that I was with my advisor at a conference since she passed away in 1990.

On Tuesday, when I was reminiscing and sharing the above in my class, I had no idea until I got back to my office and then saw the news, that Professor Herbert E. Scarf had passed away and only two days ago! 

INFORMS produced a fine tribute to Scarf  and the INFORMS President, Ed Kaplan of Yale, recently shared the sad news with all of us. I told my students today of Scarf's passing.

Scarf I remember as being very stately, pleasant, and elegant and had a very warm and welcoming way about him. I was in awe of him because of his book, "Computation of Economic Equilibria," with T. Hansen, which was published by Yale University Press in 1973. Scarf was an economist and also a great contributor to operations research.

In my first book, "Network Economics: A Variational Inequality Approach", which was published in 1993 as the first book in the series: Advances in Computational Economics, I cite Scarf's book in chapter 7, which is on Walrasian Price Equilibrium.  That book is my most highly cited publication according to Google Scholar.

Scarf was a true visionary and realized the importance of algorithmic tools to solve complex equilibrium problems. We have much to thank him for and he will be missed.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

The Paris Attacks Hit Very Close to Home

Being an academic, one is a global citizen. We have collaborators around the world, students from different countries, and we travel extensively.

When events occur even thousands of miles away that shock us, horrify us, and stun us, as happened last Friday (11/13/15) in the form of terrorist attacks in Paris, the response is to reach out and to make sure that those that we know and care about are safe.

And that is what I have been doing - emailing my collaborators and colleagues in Paris. The response from most has been quick and filled with Thank You's for thinking of us.

This afternoon I also managed to get a response from one of my undergraduate advisees who is on an exchange program in Paris. He was at the stadium last Friday that was the site of one of the terrorist attacks. He is safe and so are his friends. He also expressed gratitude for my concern.  I am shaking from relief.

Another former student with whom I have been corresponding on the refugee crisis and migration networks,  who was in my Humanitarian Logistics and Healthcare class last spring, and was on a German exchange program with UMass Amherst, wrote me today a long letter. He had been at the Eiffel Tower with a friend when the attacks started last Friday. He had started receiving alarming text messages. In his message to me he described the evening of horror and trying to make it back to his hotel with the public transport shutdown:

That meant that we had to walk home several miles, which was a very unnerving experience when you know that there is an unknown number of people with assault rifles somewhere out there. On our way to the hotel, we were the only people left on the streets, most of the bars were empty except for the waiters and a few guests gathering round the bar to watch the news on the screens. Every now and then we got passed by police cars who were rushing to the sites of the attacks, all you could hear were the sirens everywhere. It was pretty intense.

 He made it back safely to Germany today (Sunday).

One of my wonderful collaborators who hosted me, in part, when I was in Paris the last time (4 years ago) to give a keynote talk at the NetGCoop conference, and with whom I have worked on fish supply chains and network economics, wrote me a message today describing the sounds of gunfire outside his apartment.  A similar message came from another dear friend, with whom I was a Science Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard, one decade ago!

I was to have been in Paris less than two months ago for a habilitation defense (this is a degree higher than a PhD and I have blogged about this). Due to another crazy travel schedule this Fall (you don't turn down an invitation from Amazon in Seattle or invitations in Chicago, Boston, or going to the INFORMS conference in Philly), going to Europe while still covering your classes can be a challenge. Hence, I Skyped for the defense and it was a great experience.

I recently heard from one of the habilitation committee members in France, who wrote:

Thank you so much Anna for your mail and words. Personally I am safe but the situation is very surreal, extremely heavy and terribly sad. I hope things will get better with time.

He concluded his message to me with: 

May everyone be in peace.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Brilliant Lecture by Chief Technologist Dr. Eugene Litvinov of ISO New England

Today we had the honor and privilege of hosting Dr. Eugene Litvinov, who is the Chief Technologist at the Independent System Operator (ISO) New England. Dr. Litvinov spoke in our UMass Amherst INFORMS Speaker Series, which is organized by the UMass Amherst INFORMS Student Chapter. The student chapter, some faculty, and I had the pleasure of touring ISO NE's facilities in Holyoke, MA  last spring and Dr. Litvinov was so fascinating that we were thrilled when he accepted our invitation to speak.

He attracted an audience from the Isenberg School of Management, the College of Engineering, and even folks from Physical Plant at UMass since we operate our own microgrid as well as other guests from the community. It was great to see so many PhD students and even MBA students in attendance on a Friday afternoon.

The title of his talk was "Challenges of the New Grid."

ISO NE ensures that the lights stay on in our region, that is, this organization ensures electric power reliability. It is also involved in wholesale trading as well as planning for electric power.

We began his visit with a delicious lunch at the University Club at UMass and were joined by Professor Erin Baker and two of her doctoral students. She is the PI on an NSF IGERT on wind energy. Also joining us was one of our PhD students from the Isenberg School.

The conversation at lunch was so interesting. We discussed issues of survivability, cybersecurity and the grid, renewable energy, internships, skillsets needed in this industry, and other topics and we made it to the seminar location jut in time.

The audience was eagerly awaiting Dr. Litvinov'a presentation.

I started the introductions and then our new Student Chapter President, Zana Cranmer, completed the welcome. We also noted that the student chapter last week at our INFORMS conference in Philadelphia had received the summa cum laude award from INFORMS. We had chocolate cake (to be eaten after the talk) and our award plaque displayed.
Dr. Litvinov mentioned how the grid consists of the eastern interconnection, the western interconnetcion, and that Texas is its own country.

He noted that ISO NE manages $11 billion in energy capacity a year, which is mind-boggling. Every second the monitoring of supply and demand of electricity takes place since electric power cannot be stored.

New challenges for our region include that a big percentage of the fuel is now natural gas and we don't have sufficient pipeline capacity to transport it (our region does not produce natural gas). This winter could be interesting, to say the least.

He noted that we now need different ways of controlling the system since it is much more decentralized than it has ever been. He spoke of offering customers different levels of reliabilty, which I found quite interesting.

He also noted that the transmission architecture is a mesh and the distribution architecture of the grid is radial. He emphasized the need for greater flexibility. I very much appreciated his emphasis on the importance of definitions whether they are for flexibility, reliability, survivability,  or even resilience. He spoke about risk-based optimization, which I thought was very cool, and noted robust optimization several times in his talk. I might add that Litvinov has collaborated with Dimitri Bertsimas of MIT Bertsimas spoke in our series a few years ago, as did his wife, Georgia Perakis, who had the same advisor at Brown University as I did (Stella Dafermos).  so I guess Bertsimas is my academic brother-in-law.

Dr. Litvinov  emphasized the importance of keeping the system in balance and to manage the uncertainty. I liked him saying that one needs to determine the largest set of uncertainty that can be handled without violating constraints and said that he has a paper on this, which I definitely want to read.

Dr. Litvinov also discussed that we are moving from coordinated control of the grid to cooperative control (hopefully) along with decentralized decision-making. He had visited Paris recently and viewed how electric power is managed there.
He  presented quite a few mathematical optimization models so it was great for the students to see how important mathematical programming and optimization are in this critical infrastructure sector.

His lecture was brilliant and so impressive.

The questions that followed demonstrated the interest of those who attended. There were questions on renewable energy, what his vision for the grid would be for 2030, and even cybersecurity (a growing group at ISO NE).

Dr. Litvinov stayed to answer more questions and was very generous with his time and, given his reponsibilities, we are truly grateful for his visit and his talk.
And then it was time to indulge in a piece of delicious cake from Whole Foods. What a great Friday afternoon and what a terrific day, which started with meetings in Computer Science this morning.

Monday, November 9, 2015

What is Your Erdos Number and Network Science

On Friday, October 30, UMass Amherst had the pleasure of hearing Professor Albert-László Barabasi of Northeastern University speak on Network Science: From Structure to Control

This was a talk not to be missed. The talk was co-hosted by several entities at UMass including the Computational Social Science Institute (CSSI) ( a great group of colleagues with whom I enjoy being affiliated with). Room 150 in the Computer Science building was packed for his talk with an audience from many schools and colleges on our beautiful campus. My doctoral student, Shivani Shukla, and I represented the Isenberg School. Professor David Jensen of Computer Science introduced our distinguished speaker.

We had hosted Barabasi at the Isenberg School back in 2006 when I was on sabbatical at the Radcliffe Institute at Harvard in our great UMass Amherst INFORMS Speaker Series (and what an amazing list of speakers we had that Spring 2006, which even included Braess of Braess paradox fame).

I had last seen  Albert-László at a Network Science conference at the Media Lab at MIT, a few years ago,  to which I brought my doctoral student (now a Professor), Min Yu.

Barabasi began his lecture (I would have blogged it sooner but last week I was blogging from the INFORMS conference in Philadelphia and I was swamped) by bringing up Paul Erdos, a fellow Hungarian. Erdos,  the renowned mathematician,  had over 500 collaborators (some say 509 and others 511 - I have not counted them).  Erdos traveled the world from collaborator to collaborator with a suitcase typically staying for about 5 days.

Identifying one's Erdos number has become quite the hobby among STEM (and some other) folks. One has an Erdos number of 1 if one was a direct collaborator of Erdos', a number of 2, if one co-authored with a co-author of Erdos', and so on. My Erdos number is 4, by way of Paul Dupuis, Ofer Zeitouni, and Persi Diaconis.

You may be more familiar with the  Bacon number (named after the actor Kevin Bacon who starred in the move, "Footloose." 

And, of course, some actually know their Erdos + Bacon number.  Barabasi mentioned that his Bacon number was actually lower than his Erdos number, since he had been in a movie with someone who was in a movie with so and so and so on who starred with Kevin Bacon.

Now, what does this all have to do with Network Science?

Erdos is known for the Erdos-Renyi model in graph theory, which describes random graphs or networks. The degree distribution of the World Wide Web is not Poisson but follows the power law. Essentially, there are a very large number of small connected nodes in such a network and a few that are very highly connected. The World Wide Web is like an airline network with hubs. The Internet is a scale-free network according to the famous paper by yes, Faloutsos, Faloutsos and Faloutsos, but there has been some discussion about this claim.

Barabasi emphasized in his talk that a few actors are "hubs" and metabolic and protein interaction networks, which have evolved over 4 billions of years, also have hubs.

He noted that in network science (his books are definitely worth reading and he is highly cited), it is not just a matter of connecting nodes but that nodes are also evolving dynamically. He spoke of the preferential attachment model and then asked the question of where robustness comes from. He spoke about the Internet being robust to random failures and also noted that hubs are important both in the spread of ideas and diseases, as well. He referred to Vespignani, whom I have had the pleasure of meeting through the I3P association, which is a consortium based at Dartmouth.

His recent research, has, among many fascinating topics, been focusing on control. Just think of a car with 6,000 components but essentially only 4 are needed to control it. He also mentioned Kalman of Kalman filtering fame.

He described an interesting study that he conducted in Hungary in an organization to identify who were the hubs and found the 2 or 3 most influential people, one being the custodian, who was like "gossip central."

His talk was delivered with his fantastic energy, dynamism, and sense of humor. He included videos in addition to many vivid photographs. If you did not love networks before his talk, you would have fallen in love with them during it.

I was also very lucky to be invited to join Barabasi and a few colleagues from economics, computer science, and sociology (Professor James Kitts, who is the Co-Director of CSSI with Professor David Jensen). I also brought my husband along since he, like Barabasi, has a PhD in physics.

The discussions at dinner were fabulous. I wish that the evening would not end. We talked about topics as wide ranging as identifying Nobel prize winners from co-authorship of papers; determining through the language in an abstract whether a scientific paper was written by a female or a male, and we even discussed the Braess paradox.  I keep on emphasizing the importance of including flows and economic behavior of decision-makers in network science. We also discussed the success of the first PhD program in Network Science, which he helped to establish at Northeastern University and a similar PhD at a university in Hungary that he is affiliated with and that the billionaire Soros is helping to fund. Yes, Soros is also Hungarian.

below are photos taken at the dinner that great Friday evening.
Thanks to Professor Barabasi for coming out to Amherst from Boston and for your brilliant lecture on Network Science!