×

FORGOT YOUR DETAILS?

My first operations research conference was thirty-six years ago in Toronto. It was not an IFORS conference, but it was a conference jointly sponsored by the Candian OR Society, CORS, and the two US OR societies, ORSA and TIMS. I was an undergraduate student, and was just beginning my operations research journey. I was astounded at the number of talks and the sheer variety of topics being covered: optimization, logistics, voting, system dynamics, military applications, and far, far more. It was there that I realized that choosing Operations Research as a field wasn’t limiting my choices: it was opening them up.

As I write this, I have just returned from a EURO (the Association of European Operational Research Societies) conference in Poznan, Poland. It was a fascinating conference with interesting plenary sessions, a wide range of technical talks, and outstanding social activities to encourage interactions among participants. EURO is a grouping of IFORS member societies based mainly in Europe and is a very successful organization with robust publications, active working groups on many topics, conferences and workshops, summer schools for doctoral students, and many other activities.

On January 1, 2016, it will be my honor to become the 21st President of the International Federation of Operational Research Societies. In a sense, I have known about IFORS even before I decided that I wanted to work in this area. When I took my first course in linear programming, my father asked whether I knew of Sir Charles Goodeve. I was to learn that Sir Charles was a leader in using operational research techniques for anti-submarine warfare in World War II, and later played a significant role in introducing OR methods in industry

I read with interest Peter Bell’s last editorial on the future of IFORS. In it he discusses the rise of analytics and data science (shortened to ‘analytics’) and how it is fuelling the growth of OR, especially in the USA. I very much agree with the tenor of Peter’s comments and wanted to make a few comments from a UK perspective.

The international OR community congregated in Barcelona for the big event - IFORS 2014. There was something for everyone to discover – recent trends, new findings, emerging OR use in other disciplines, even the magic of Gaudi and Dali, and most of all, new friends, and the growing network of OR professionals throughout the world. This is one of the ways by which IFORS has responded to the needs of its members.

This 2014, IFORS celebrates its 55th year in Barcelona during the Triennial IFORS Conference. For the first time, this will be preceded by the International Conference on OR for Development (ICORD). These are two of the major activities that showcase IFORS efforts at promoting and developing the discipline as well as improving links among its member societies. IFORS 2014 marks the 20th Triennial conference of bringing OR professionals and enthusiasts together.

IFORS role in promoting OR for development is most visible in this issue. We start out with the Editorial of IFORS VP at large, Sue Merchant, who has been assigned the Developing Countries Committee portfolio. She puts forth questions for the international OR community on whether IFORS is on the right track, and what it can do more to perform its role in promoting the use of OR for development.

This issue covers the various events that took place at a special occasion in Vilnius, Lithuania last July. That occasion was the 25th conference of the EURO – the regional grouping of European national societies within IFORS. The special silver anniversary celebration recounted the history of the organization - how it had grown and prospered, made real to the audience (and quite moving for me personally) with the presence of nearly all the past EURO Presidents. A report about the conference itself is also included here, along with an account of an IFORS first – the IFORS Tutorial Lecture series that was presented to a packed audience by Erhan Erkut during the conference.
EE talked about making OR a well-liked course. Laura Mclay takes another tack and tells us how she has built interest among her students and others through her blogging about OR.
Meanwhile, another regional conference happened in Xi’an, China. Details of the APORS (regional grouping within the Asia Pacific) conference and its new leadership are covered here. You will also find reports of various conferences by our indefatigable IFORS correspondent Willi Weber who seems to be promoting OR at every conference!
Seeming to be everywhere too are earthquakes, floods, volcanic eruptions, tornadoes, tsunamis, wildfires, drought, and hurricanes that have happened in recent months. In their tutorial, B. Vitoriano et. al. share the technical side of disaster management and the potential role of OR in all these.
Meanwhile, the role of OR in organizations is showcased in our new feature, OR Impact. Sue Merchant and John Ranyard need your contributions in order achieve its aim to give everyone a feel for the outstanding results that OR has delivered to decision-makers all over the world.
In making decisions, are you a slow or a fast thinker? The case for not going with your gut, from the book Thinking, Fast and Slow, was featured just last September 11in CNN’s Amanpour http://cnn.com/video/?/video/international/2012/09/11/amanpour-danielkahneman-politicians-decision-making.cnn. Indeed, a timely choice for a book to review by our prodigious book reviewer, Hans Ittman.
IFORS activities in this issue covers the Summer School, which has a proven track record of contributing to the development and networking of Operations Researchers in the early stage of their careers. Good news about the IFORS publications IAOR and ITOR is shared by our new Chairperson of the Publications Committee, Graham Rand, who replaces Hugh Bradley. We take this opportunity to thank Hugh, who leaves the post after several years of involvement with various IFORS activities.
Don’t you think that unlike the case of the currency, things are looking up for our own EURO and in fact, for our discipline?

What do personal finance, bus bunching and educating the poor have in common? In this issue, you will find out why “Operations Research” is the answer. Read about how an OR model in Asset Liability Management can be used to manage personal wealth; how an OR methodology has successfully solved a perennial and ubiquitous bus bunching problem; and how OR is helping make full use of scarce resources in running over four hundred schools with some two hundred thousand of the poorest students. It is heartening to note that these applications have come from all over the world: Brazil, the United States and Bolivia, respectively.
OR events are happening in other places too: Antalya, Turkey was the site of the 25th Conference of European Chapter on Combinatorial Optimization. The national OR society of Spain just celebrated its 50th year with a conference in Madrid, graced by IFORS President Dominique de Werra. It is timely to note that SEIO hosts the 2014 IFORS conference in Barcelona. Another society that celebrates its 55th year this year is the Operational Research Society of India (ORSI), which is this issue’s featured IFORS member.

This issue also contains the accounts of two IFORS scholars who attended the ALIO and EURO Institutes, geared to provide training and networking opportunities for people at the early stage of their careers. These training happened in Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil and Bremen, Germany.
Looking ahead, do think about attending the ICORD workshop on Problem Structuring Methods (PSM) that will happen in Tunisia this October. Arabinda Tripathy tells us why he believes that PSM is very relevant in tackling development issues.
We have our regular book review section where Hans Ittmann recommends to us Multiple Criteria Decision Making – From Early History to the 21st Century. We also learn from Editor Preston White the current challenges facing the IFORS publication, International Abstracts in Operations Research (IAOR). From the Administrative Committee is a very important announcement about the choice of Quebec as the site for the 2017 IFORS conference.
Indeed, this issue brings you Operations Research in action and in conference sessions around the world - enjoy!

We used to dedicate one issue of IFORS News to the Annual Report. This year, we have a full issue that complements the 2011 Annual Report. The year had been a most productive one for the Administrative Committee, as can be gleaned from the President Dominique de Werra’s summary of the activities undertaken for the year.
Activities continued on into 2012, as you can see from the OR Schools conducted in Africa and Brazil and those being planned for in Ukraine and Portugal. It is always very refreshing to see these young people, all enthusiastic about OR and benefiting from the various programs made available to them by IFORS and other sponsors.
Conferences that were held within ALIO, EURO and APORS are covered. IFORS was well represented in the conferences that happened in Peru, Portugal and Nepal. I met the Developing Countries Section editor Arabinda Tripathy at the Nepal conference, and his perspectives on that conference are here printed. He also forwarded a very interesting experience of the South African society which faced the multilingual aspect of publishing a journal.
Speaking of journals, we cover a milestone issue of ITOR – its first as an ISI indexed journal, and its first issue to cover tutorials. To give you a flavor of one of these tutorials, we print a piece on revenue management by IFORS Treasurer Peter Bell. He also writes the editorial, which raises some very important and timely issues in publishing, gathered from his years of being up close and personal with this area.
We always take the opportunity to give our readers who are operations research professionals something that they do not encounter everyday. In this issue are articles in the realms of art, psychology and politics. Do read them and see how OR plays a role in these fields that may be seemingly distant from OR.
The first quarter of 2012 has seen a lot happening in the OR world. I do hope you’ll let IFORS News in on what’s up in your corner of this world

What do politics, trading, emergency management, millennium development goals, policymaking, and biology have in common? This IFORS News issue tells you how and why “Operations Research” is the answer. The editorial “OR: More Interdisciplinary Than Ever” sets the tone for the various articles in this issue that show the role of OR in Chinese national policysetting, reaching the MDG, recovering from the Japanese earthquake disaster, computing fair representation of groups, advancing researches in biology, and making markets smarter. You will also learn how this relatively young discipline that has found its way to diverse application areas has attracted, in the past few months, thousands of conference participants in Charlotte, Shandong, Zimbabwe, and Zurich. The latter conference was also a celebration of the Swiss OR society’s 50th year. Speaking of societies, we feature here the world's oldest at 63 years old, the UK OR society. Incidentally, the review of “Profiles in Operations Research” gives us a look into the book about eminent individuals who had a seminal influence on OR over the past 70 years. If the UK OR society is the oldest founding IFORS member society, the youngest IFORS member is the national society of Nepal, accepted into IFORS only on November 29. Our heartiest welcome! In the same way that our discipline continues to evolve over time, the IFORS News is similarly evolving to find new and better ways to serve its community. Starting with this issue, we introduce a new feature - tutorials. We feature two such tutorials in this issue, one on smart markets, and another on bioinformatics.

One of the first details you would probably notice with this issue is the ISSN number that appears in the masthead. It will please you to know that the electronic version of the IFORS News will henceforth sport its ISSN. Another publication news that has been greeted with much jubilation is the ITOR indexation by the ISI. Keep in mind then that the ITOR impact factor will be available by December 2011. IFORS 2011 has just been concluded and we here feature three accounts: one from a veteran conference attendee, a newbie, and from one of the organizers himself. See for yourself how different experiences and backgrounds led to very similar impressions! The winners of the IFORS Prize grace the OR for Development Section, which also features two very interesting articles on real-life OR applications for development. Our featured articles on how OR is used in two very different operations, in a winery and in an archeological project, attest to the flexibility of OR. Also featured is the potential role of OR in disaster management coming from our colleague from Japan, the country that had suffered a lot from a devastating tsunami. It is timely that we received an invitation from the International Emergency Management Organization which we are putting before you for consideration.

 

I am sure you will have your own views on the thought-provoking points raised on the use of the term “Analytics” by Heiner Muller Merbach and “Women in OR” by Nair Abreu. I can print your reactions in the next issue - please send them to news@ifors.org. This issue gives a glimpse of recently concluded OR conferences in Amsterdam, Kiev, Medan and St.Petersburg - through the eyes of our correspondents who never fail to send an article for IFORS News. We also feature here two societies - newly-accepted Estonia (welcome!) and the Spanish society which incidentally, is hosting IFORS2014 (thank you!).

In addition to these members of the AC, we should mention that Hugh Bradley after serving IFORS in many different ways, has accepted to chair the Publications Committee in charge of relations with the publishers of ITOR and IAOR under responsibility of Martine Labbé. Furthermore, the AC will continue to take advantage of the experience of Theo Stewart in Developing Countries since he is chairing the DC Committee under responsibility of Hugo Scolnik. I express my thanks to the members of the AC who have served IFORS for many years and who are continuing with the same enthusiasm and efficiency. It is in particular the case of our treasurer Peter Bell whose experience as a Past President and as a treasurer is precious to us in this period of rough financial climate. Thanks also to Elise del Rosario who has been guiding us on the appropriate tracks during the learning phase of the new AC. Elise is not only Immediate Past President but she is also responsible for our website and in addition the new Editor of the Newsletter; she took over the job from Hans Ittman during this year according to the desire of Hans, and the AC expresses its gratitude to both of them for having contributed to improve day after day this essential tool for the visibility of IFORS and for bringing our societies and our members closer to each other. During this first year we also had a change of the editor of IAOR; David Smith who has been editor for almost twenty years has expressed his desire of retiring. The AC has already had some opportunities to thank him for the excellent work he accomplished in circumstances which required a lot of attention, flexibility and efficiency from him. Preston White was appointed as incoming Editor or IAOR during the Fall of 2010. We wish him success and much pleasure in the challenging job of IAOR Editor and we appreciate that David has accepted to help his successor during the transition period.

This issue bids adieu to David Smith who leaves the IAOR Editorship, much richer in the 20 years he had been at its helm. It also welcomes a new section, OR for Development, and its editor, Arabinda Tripathy. What’s in between? Courtesy of our IFORS News correspondents, events from around the world - Canada, Africa, Moscow, Turkey and China were adequately covered. Our VP for NORAM lets us know where INFORMS is headed while I hope that you will find features in this issue from cats to criminals, from philosophers to podcasts, from the subjectivity of modelling to the difficulty on agreeing on a definition of OR, interesting reading, if not thought provoking. You are also cordially invited to learn more and participate in three new IFORS initiatives, namely, the IFORS Invited Tutorial, the web-based Educational Resources project, and the IFORS- EURO Scholarship for the upcoming ESI 2012. And down under is IFORS 2011 – which is only about three months away! There’s every reason to be excited and if you have not made plans, think again. The IFORS conference visits Australia for the first time and a great scientific program has been prepared for us by Janny Leung. Our host, the Australian Society for Operations Research, through Patrick Tobin, is extending to us a warm invitation by way of an article in this issue.

Happy New Year! New Years have meant new beginnings for most people. For the IFORS AC team, it marks the end of the getting-to-know phase of IFORS initiated and on-going programs, new initiatives, as well as the individual styles of the AC committee members. For the AC team then, New Year marks the beginning of getting things done well, with all the lessons learned from its first year.

As is customary, this edition is devoted to the annual report of the IFORS administrative committee (AC). It also marks the end of the term of office of this AC. Some of the reports therefore cover the three-year period from 2007 to 2009. From all the various reports it is clear much was accomplished during this period.

The newsletter starts with a short piece by the new President of IFORS, Professor Dominique de Werra. Dominique took over from Elise del Rosario and hails from Switzerland. He is a distinguished Operations Researcher with a very impressive track record. He has served the profession in various capacities over many years. In his first Presidential column he suggests and promotes very strongly the motto of the new Administrative Committee as being: “Do not do what others can do better, but support it by all means”. The same words can apply to us as the OR community in supporting the various endeavours of the IFORS AC during their entire term of office.

From a sport perspective, 2010 is the year of the Soccer World Cup with many millions of people across the globe following this great event. Being from South Africa, it will be very special for us not only to welcome so many foreign visitors, but also because this will be the first time the event is being hosted in Africa. Travelling around one observes all the preparations taking place - road infrastructure and airport upgrades; a new rail commuter system is being built in the Johannesburg area that will hopefully be partially operational when the event starts. These are just a few examples of frantic preparations. We look forward to a great World Cup!

The year 2009 is rushing to an end and there is still so much to do! The OR community has been very busy as well – in July 2009, EURO had its 23rd conference in Bonn, Germany; the Chinese OR society had its meeting in the last week of September while INFORMS will have its annual meeting the second week of October in San Diego. In Africa the Operations Research Society of Eastern Africa (ORSEA) held its 5th conference in August while the Operations Research Society in South Africa (ORSSA) celebrated its 40th anniversary together with its annual conference in September 2009.

The activities of IFORS are broad and wide and with this edition of the newsletter the Administration Committee (AC) reports on these activities. The year 2009 also marks the 50th anniversary since the establishment of IFORS. It therefore is appropriate to congratulate IFORS with this major milestone! Much has happened over the fifty years and through the tireless efforts of IFORS, Operations Research is not only used and applied in almost all areas of life but the international community is now very well represented. In this respect IFORS welcomes its latest new member to the OR community, namely the national OR society of Uruguay (AUDIIO) (Informatics and Operational Research Uruguayan Association). AUDIIO is the 49th national OR society to join IFORS – almost 50 members in the 50th year! Enjoy reading this annual report.

TOP