Saturday, March 17, 2018

A BIG Thanks to Operations Researchers at Lancaster University in England for the Outstanding Hospitality

I am back in Amherst, Massachusetts, after being in Europe for 10 days, traveling first to southern Italy where I gave a keynote talk at a conference in a castle and also blogged about it, followed by a  fabulous day in London, and then several days in Lancaster, where I taught a Masterclass on Network Equilibrium at Lancaster University. There I was hosted by STOR-i, which is a Center devoted to doctoral training in statistics and operational research (or, as we say in the US, operations research). I had been invited to teach the Masterclass last summer, and, since I had given a talk at Lancaster, when I was a Visiting Fellow at All Souls College at Oxford University in the spring/summer of 2016, and enjoyed the experience very much, I accepted the invitation. The colleagues in operations research/management science at Lancaster are extraordinary so I was looking forward to seeing them again and also to meeting students that would be taking my Masterclass. This past week was spring break at the University of Massachusetts Amherst so instead of teaching at the Isenberg School of Management I would be teaching at Lancaster University.

On March 11, 2018, I took the Virgin train from Euston Station in London to Lancaster and was delighted to see that the station was promoting the University.
A short taxi ride brought me to the Lancaster House Hotel, which was my domicile for the duration of my stay and the view from my hotel was perfect with seagulls often chirping.
My Masterclass consisted of 4 two hour lectures:
My first evening in Lancaster, I had the great pleasure of having dinner with Professor Graham Rand, who is an extraordinary ambassador for both INFORMS and IFORS, and I have lost track as to the number of conferences I have enjoyed seeing Professor Rand at.
Meeting the students was a delight and I very much appreciated their insightful comments and questions.

Special thanks to Lucy and Luke, two STOR-i doctoral students, who accompanied me to one of the lunches.

It was also wonderful to be able to see Professor Matthias Ehrgott and Professor Judith Wang of Leeds University, for a lunch. I have dined with them even in Auckland, New Zealand, where they were faculty before coming to the UK. Professor Ehrgott has served as the Chair of the Management Science Department at Lancaster, the largest department of its kind in England!

A special thank you to Ms. Rosemary Hindley, who made the arrangements for me and the hospitality extended was exceptional and which I so much appreciated!

Other highlights (yes, I did a lot of lecturing (8 hours worth) but also a lot of eating, which kept my energy level high) included dinner at a Thai restaurant with Professor Pavlidis and his doctoral student, and dinner with two Distinguished University Professors: INFORMS Fellow Professor Kevin Glazebrook, the Director of STOR-i, and Professor Konstantinos Zografos, whom I have known for many years (and he received his PhD at the University of Connecticut and has been recognized with, among his awards, an engineering alumnus award). Professor Glazebrook drove us to the restaurant through the countryside, The Lunesdale Arms in Tunstall, where I had one of the most delicious meals in my life! A huge congratulations to Professor Glazebrook and his team for developing an exceptional doctoral training programme in operational research, which engages students with academics and industrial partners and practitioners.
I will be back in Lancaster, England in September and am truly honored to be giving a plenary talk then at the OR60 Conference! 

And, one of the best rewards of teaching, is inspiring students and I was so pleased to see that Alan F. Wise wrote an excellent blogpost on the Braess Paradox, after my Masterclass!  Coincidentally, I had had a very lovely communication with Professor Dietrich Braess himself, while I was in Europe. And, also, while in Europe, I heard from the renowned physicist, Professor Adilson Motter of Northwestern University, about the publication if his latest paper, which also discusses the Braess (and other related) paradoxes. This paper I thoroughly enjoyed reading after my return.

A big thank you also to all the airlines that carried me on 7 flights over 11 days: British Airways, Alitalia, and Aer Lingus.