Operations Research Center

The Operations Research Center (ORC), established in 1953 as a first of a kind interdepartmental graduate degree program, completed its 49th year of operation in 2001–2002. The center administers its own graduate programs and a varied research program of methodological and applied projects. It maintains a reading room with a small library, as well as state of the art computational workstations.

This report summarizes the center's 2001–2002 activities and briefly reviews its educational, research and outreach programs.

Faculty, Students, Staff

Professor James B. Orlin, Edward Pennell Brooks professor of Operations Research and Cynthia Barnhart, associate professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering served as Codirectors during 2001–2002.

This year the ORC had 44 affiliated faculty and senior staff, with faculty drawn from the School of Management and the Departments of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Ocean Engineering, Mathematics, Aeronautics and Astronautics, Mechanical Engineering, Nuclear Engineering, and Urban Studies and Planning.

The Operations Research Center offers two interdepartmental graduate degree programs, a PhD and a master's degree. During 2001–2002, these programs enrolled 45 students—39 PhD candidates, six SM candidates. The ORC also hosted one special student. The center conferred four master's degrees and six PhD's. Several other PhD theses were in the final stages of completion in the summer of 2002.

Academic Programs

The ORC's academic programs continue to be recognized as ranking among the very best nationally and internationally. The program, moreover, is repeatedly cited as achieving an excellent balance between application and methodological domains.

Research Activities

Research activities spanned a wide spectrum of methodological topics and applications, ranging from small, unsponsored projects involving a single faculty supervising a student's thesis, to much larger sponsored programs involving several faculty/staff and students.

Methodological research includes such topics as linear, nonlinear, and combinatorial optimization, solution methods for integer programming, interior point methods for linear and nonlinear programming; cluster analysis; parallel and distributed computation and algorithms; network flow algorithms; network design; probabilistic combinatorial optimization; deterministic and stochastic facility location; queueing theory, including queueing networks; risk analysis, stochastic processes; classical and Bayesian statistics; and decision analysis and statistical decision theory.

ORC faculty are also currently contributing to application domains as wide ranging as manufacturing, communications, transportation, public services, logistics, marketing, financial services, health care, and nuclear engineering. Current projects are addressing such topics as air traffic control, epidemiology, AIDS testing, life-cycle modeling of municipal solid waste, safety and risk analysis in air transportation, telecommunication network design, supply chain management, production scheduling, and transportation logistics.

Several organizations sponsored research projects at the ORC during 2001–2002, for example: the National Science Foundation; C.S. Draper Laboratory (several projects and Draper Fellowships); General Motors; Federal Aviation Administration's Center of Excellence for Aviation Operations Research; Logistics Management Institute; Office of Naval Research; Singapore/MIT Alliance Program; and United Airlines.

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Outreach and Professional Service

In its effort to serve the professional community at large, the ORC regularly undertakes a number of outreach activities.

Professor Amedeo R. Odoni and Richard de Neufville offered a professional course in October of 2001: "Airport Systems: Strategic Planning and Detailed Design."

The Operations Research Center, and the Mathematical Programming Society co-hosted the 9th conference on Integer Programming and Combinatorial Optimization, also known as IPCO 2002. The aim of the conference is to present recent developments in theory, computation, and applications of integer programming and combinatorial optimization. The conference brought together an international group of students, faculty, and researchers. The faculty organizer for the conference was Andreas Schulz. The student coordinator was Nicolás E. Stier Moses.

The ORC Seminar Series was privileged to have many distinguished speakers from industry and academia this year. Among the many operations research professionals who made presentations were: Awi Federgruen (Columbia); Martin Grötschel (Technische Universitaet, Berlin); Laurent El Ghaoui (Univ of CA/Berkeley); Maxim Sviridenko (IBM); Yinyu Yee (Univ of IA); Adam Kalai (MIT); John Vande Vate (GA Tech); Costis Maglaras (Columbia); Katya Scheinberg (IBM); Egon Balas (Carnegie-Mellon); Michael Fu (Univ of MD); Alvin Roth (Harvard); Jean-Louis Goffin (McGill); Andrew Boyd (PROS Revenue Management); Brenda Dietrich (IBM); Guillermo Gallego (Columbia); Jeff McGill (Queen's Univ).

The center also offered a program of activities during the January independent activities period, including a series of presentations on the practice of operations research and management science presented Mitchell Burman (Analytics, Inc.); Gina Mourtzinou (Dynamic Ideas, LLC); John Ruark and Salal Humair (Optiant) and Kermit Threatte (Analytics, Inc.)

During 2001–2002, the Operations Research continued the process of self-evaluation and improvement. Some of the developments during this past year are as follows:


The ORC has always attempted to provide an environment that is responsive to the varied professional and personal needs of the OR community at MIT, and that builds upon diversity.

The ORC makes no faculty appointments. The staff of the ORC is composed of two support staff members and one administrative officer. Of these three staff, all are women, and two are African-American.

Honors and Awards

Arnold Barnett received the INFORMS Expository Writing Award. Arnie was also the recipient of an Excellence in Teaching Award at the Sloan School of Management.

Dimitris Bertsimas was the recipient of the Miller fellowship from the University of California, Berkeley.

Ismail Chabini was the recipient of the 2002 Teaching Award from the MIT Center for Transportation and Logistics.

Vincent Chan was named Fellow of the Optical Society of America.

Richard de Neufville received an honorary doctorate from the Technical University of Delft in recognition of his role in founding and developing the MIT Technology and Policy Program. He was elected as a "life member" of Clare Hall, a post-graduate college at Cambridge University. In addition, Richard was the recipient of the "Best Teacher Award" from the Technology and Policy Program.

Eric Feron was awarded the best conference paper for his work, "Design and Applications of an Avionics System for a Miniature Acrobatic Helicopter," coauthored with K. Sprague, V. Gavrilets, D. Dugail, B. Mettler, and I. Martinos.

Stanley Gershwin was awarded the IIE Best Paper Award and the Outstanding IIE Publication Award for his paper, "Design and Operation of Manufacturing Systems—The Control-Point Policy."

John Hauser received the Parlin Award from the American Marketing Association (AMA). This is the AMA's oldest and most prestigious award and is given for lifetime contributions to the field of marketing research.

Richard C. Larson served for two weeks as the Sir Edward Youde Memorial Fund Visiting Professor at Hong Kong University. The Youde Professorship, awarded annually, was established in 1995 to provide more opportunities for education and cultural exchanges between Hong Kong and the global academic community.

Andrew Lo was named the IAFE/Sungard Financial Engineer of the Year. In addition, he was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship.

Amedeo Odoni was awarded the Robert Herman Lifetime Achievement Award in Transportation Science. This award is granted to an individual who throughout his/her professional career has made fundamental and sustained contributions to transportation science, and has influenced the field through his/ her writings, teaching, service, and nurturing of younger professionals.

Georgia Perakis was the recipient of the MIT Graduate Student Council Teaching Award for the Sloan School of Management.

Alex Samarov received a Fulbright award for teaching and research at Tel Aviv University in Israel for February–June 2002.

David Simchi Levi's book, Desigining and Managing the Supply Chain, coauthored with P. Kaminsky and E. Simchi-Levi was selected by Business 2.0, "as the best source for slashing time and costs and increasing productivity in the supply chain."

Andreas Schulz was named Class of 1958 Career Development Professorship. This professorship recognizes and encourages innovative and imaginative teaching by gifted young faculty members. Also, Andreas received the Meritorious Service Award from the journal, Operations Research for "high-quality and timely work" as associate editor.

Santosh Vempala received an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Fellowship.

Alp Muharremoglu received First Place at the George Nicholson Student Paper Competition (awarded by INFORMS for the best paper in Operations Research and the Management Sciences written by a student).

Andrew Armacost, an ORC alumnus, was the winner of the Dantzig Prize and received second prize in the INFORMS Transportation Science Section Dissertation Prize.

In addition to these numerous awards received, many of our faculty members were promoted during last academic term. Cindy Barnhart was promoted to full professor; Ismail Chabini was promoted to associate professor; John Paul Clarke was promoted to associate professor; Michel Goemans was promoted to full professor; and Georgia Perakis was promoted to associate professor.

Cynthia Barnhart, Co-director and Professor of Civil and Environmental Education
James B. Orlin, Co-director and Professor of Management Science

More information about the Operations Research Center can be found on the web at http://web.mit.edu/orc/www/.


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