Saturday, July 13, 2019

World Congress on Global Optimization in France and a Special Surprise

I returned last evening from Europe, having spent the past three weeks at conferences and transit points between. During this period I had the pleasure of being in 8 different countries. I delivered 2 conference presentations (in Dublin and in Kalamata, Greece), 1 tutorial (in Dublin), spoke on 2 panels (also in Dublin), presented at IBM Dublin, and also gave a plenary talk at the World Congress on Global Optimization (WCGO) in Metz, France. I blogged about the EURO 2019 Conference in Dublin and also about the Dynamics of Disasters conference that I had co-organized in Kalamata (yes, like the olives).

I thoroughly enjoyed all these conferences from the large, with over 2,000 delegates, EURO Dublin conference to the smaller Dynamics of Disasters conference and the mid-sized WCGO.
WCGO began with an opening remarks. The timetable for the conference can be downloaded here.
The plenary talk that I gave at  the WCGO was in the Constantin Caratheodory Prize session. This year I was tremendously honored and humbled and surprised to be the recipient of the 2019 Constantin Caratheodory Prize, along with Professor Anatoly Zhigljavsky of Cardiff University in Wales. More information about the prize and the previous recipients of this prize can be found on the International Society of Global Optimization website. As I said in my acceptance speech, I am standing on the shoulders of giants. I am very grateful to the Chair of the Prize Committee, Distinguished University Professor Panos M. Pardalos of the University of Florida (and former recipient of this and many other prizes), and to all the committee members for this truly distinctive honor. In the photo below, I am standing with, from l-r: Professor Yaroslav Sergeyev, a member of the prize committee, Professor Zhigljavsky, and Professor Panos M. Pardalos. Professor Sergeyev is also President of the International Society of Global Optimization.

A nice article on the prize was published by UMass Amherst - thank you! I very much appreciate the congratulatory messages that I have been receiving from faculty and staff  at my university and many other faculty and even former students from around the globe!

I have posted my plenary talk because it is on a very timely topic and on research conducted with one of my doctoral students, Deniz Besik, and other collaborators.
The WCGO was an intellectual (and social) feast with plenary talks given by renowned researchers, beginning on the first day with a breathtaking plenary by Pardalos on networks and brain research with applications to epilepsy and Parkinson's,  to a very dynamic, fascinating last day plenary by Professor Sergiy Butenko of Texas A&M University. Butenko, who is the Editor of the Journal of Global Optimization, spoke on his unifying framework for network analysis and cliques with applications ranging from social networks to material science! To have the opportunity to listen to these and such plenary speakers as Professor Ben-Tal of Israel, Professor Immmanuel Bomze of Austria (who is also the President of EURO and I had had the pleasure of seeing him at EURO Dublin), Professor Fukushima of Japan, and Professor Zhigljavsky of the UK, was simply fabulous!

Below I have posted a few photos from the talks of several of the plenary speakers.
Thanks to the organizers for taking the group photo of all the delegates below - a very happy group, I must say!

It was wonderful to have joint coffee breaks, delicious lunches served us, and a truly exceptional banquet, at which I had so much fun, I woke up twice the night afterwards laughing because of the stories and jokes exchanged.
I met researchers from so many different countries at WCGO, including: Botswana, Benin, Algeria, Israel, Morocco, Iran, Italy, Germany, Ireland, the UK, USA, Greece, Ukraine, Russia, Poland, India, Japan, among others, and even Kazakhstan! I had to take the group photo at the banquet with researchers from that country and a friend - so many women, which was great and even a rector of a university there!
It was also a delight to see Professor Christine Shoemaker, formerly of Cornell University, and a member of the National Academy of Engineering, who is now a faculty member in Singapore, at WCGO.
This was truly a World Congress on Global Optimization and I thank the organizers for an outstanding experience with new friendships made, and new research ideas generated. As a colleague from Germany said to me: this was a conference that we enjoyed not only great scientific exchanges but we also met wonderful new colleagues!

And, at the onset of the conference in France, the US women's soccer team won the World Cup - simply perfect!