Wednesday, March 7, 2018

An Operations Research Conference in a Castle in Italy

I arrived in Reggio Calabria, Italy yesterday afternoon after twenty hours of travel from Amherst, Massachusetts to Boston Logan and flights via British Airways to Heathrow and then onwards to Rome with the final leg via Alitalia. A big shoutout to both of these airlines for fabulous service and comfort.

Reggio Calabria is in (very) southern Italy and is located in the "toe part" of the boot shape that is Italy. One can see Sicily past the Mediterranean ocean and the journey was definitely worth it. I am here, thanks to the invitation of my wonderful colleagues, Professor Sofia Guiffre' of Reggio Calabria and Professor Patrizia Daniele of Catania. They are among my dear co-authors and our paper is now in press in the International Transactions in Operational Research (ITOR).  Coincidentally, while I was at the Rome airport, during a 3 hour layover - none other than the Editor of ITOR, Professor Celso Ribeiro, emailed me and told me that he, too, is now also in Europe - on sabbatical in (snowy) Oslo, Norway.

Tomorrow I will be giving a keynote talk at the VINEPA 2018 conference, which focuses on some of my methodological loves - variational inequalities and Nash Equilibria!

The venue of the conference is truly unique and, this morning, after an exquisite breakfast at my hotel with an amazing view,

I ambled to the conference venue which is a historic castle. I marched up to the top and took photos of the panorama.
On the second floor of the caste there was artwork and the staff was getting our space ready for the conference.
I couldn't resist snapping a photo of the one window in the conference room.

At the conference, I will see many operations research colleagues from various countries, some of whom I have not seen in quite a while, so I am very excited!

Thus far, I have managed to walk for miles (my cure for any jetlag) and walking along the Mediterranean with the astounding landscape, vegetation, architecture, and the kindness of the locals (more on this later)  make all the hard work on research (which is actually a joy in itself) worth it. Massachusetts is bracing for another snowstorm so I made it out, just in time!
I am a real tree hugger and the last time that I was so awe-struck by the vegetation of a country was when I gave a keynote talk in New Zealand. I have my favorite tree in Auckland. And, speaking of New Zealand, next week I will be at Lancaster University in England, giving a masterclass, and will see Professor Matthias Ehrgott, who is now on the faculty there and who was my host when I was in NZ!
The kindness of the Italians in Reggio Calabria is truly special. Not many speak English but that is not a problem, and, last evening, not only did a waiter run up to help me with my trenchcoat but another one treated me to a dessert from the selection below (of course, I chose one the chocolate ones).
I love watching the locals promenade along the beautiful mile walkway along the Mediterranean Ocean and also on the main street (which is for pedestrians only) and is filled with elegant shops. I marvel at the elegance of the people and how they acknowledge one another and (this must be the academic in me since we tend to fit anywhere) acknowledge me with a greeting.

The places that doing Operations Research can take you on our fascinating planet never fail to inspire.