Operations Research Center

The Operations Research Center (ORC), established in 1953 as a first-of-a-kind interdepartmental graduate degree program, completed its 50th year of operation in 2002–2003. 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 2002–2003 activities and briefly reviews its educational, research and outreach programs.

Faculty, Students, and Staff

Professor James B. Orlin, Edward Pennell Brooks professor of operations research and John N. Tsitsiklis, professor of electrical engineering and computer science served as codirectors during 2002–2003.

This year the ORC had 47 affiliated faculty and senior staff members, 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 ORC offers two interdepartmental graduate degree programs, a PhD and a master 's degree. This year, these programs enrolled 50 students (38 PhD candidates and 12 SM) candidates. The ORC also hosted 2 special students. The center conferred 8 master 's degrees and 11 PhD 's. Several other PhD theses were in the final stages of completion in the summer of 2003.

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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.

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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 2002–2003, 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.

The ORC, the Forum for Supply Chain Innovation, and the Engineering Systems Division at MIT, in conjunction with IBM and General Motors organized the Second Symposium in Operations Research. This symposium brings together students, faculty, and researchers for one day of presentations and discussions on work related to research of mutual interest. This year the focus was on operations research models in supply contracts, supply chain coordination and auction and pricing strategies.

Professor Amedeo R. Odoni and Richard de Neufville offered a professional course in October of 2002: "Airport Systems: Planning, Design, and Management."

In February, the ORC hosted, for a day, a group of 26 students from the joint program in mathematics and economics at the University of Copenhagen, who listened to an overview of the ORC and a number of student presentations.

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: Assaf Zeevi (Columbia); Mark Brodie (IBM); David Shmoys (Cornell); Diego Klabjan (University of Illinois); Les Servi (Lincoln Labs); Ravindran Kannan (Yale); Daniela Pucci de Farias (IBM); Jean Lasserre (CNRSLAAS-CNRS); Kavita Ramanan (Carnegie-Mellon); Ananth Raman (Harvard); Peter Glnyn (Stanford); Paul Dupuis (Brown); Timothy Roughgarden (Cornell); Rolf Moehring (Berlin University); Paul Glasserman (Columbia); Kurt Anstreicher (University of Iowa); Martin Skutella (Visiting Faculty, Sloan); and Charu Aggarwal (IBM).

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 by John Bossert (Optiant); Richard Larson (MIT); John Hollywood (Rand Corporation); Janice Young (Swiss Reinsurance America Company) and David Einstein (Structured Decisions Corporation).

In addition, Professors Arnold Barnett and Richard Larson ran a two-day IAP workshop on the subject of "Operations Research Applied to Homeland Security."

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Operational Issues

During 2002–2003, the ORC did not experience any significant operational or organizational challenges.

Publication Series: During the past year, the ORC met with representatives at MIT to discuss publishing the ORC working papers series electronically on DSPACE. By the end of 2003, all of the center's working papers and technical reports will be accessible via the web.

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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.

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Professional Activities

Arnold Barnett received the President 's Citation from the Flight Safety Foundation for "truly outstanding service on behalf of safety, whether it be valor, professionalism or service above and beyond normal expectations. "

Cynthia Barnhart received second prize for the Franz Edelman Award for Achievement in Operations Research and the Management Sciences, May 2003.

John-Paul Clarke and Laura Kang received the AGIFORS Award for Most Innovative Idea at the Annual Symposium, October 2002.

Richard de Neufville was named a senior research associate at the Judge Institute of Management, Cambridge University in recognition of many collaborations in developing the Cambridge University version of the Technology Policy Programme.

John Hauser was a runner-up for the best-paper award (for articles published in 2001) for his paper, "Metrics Thermostat, "Journal of Product Innovation Management, 18, 3. (May).

Richard Larson was named an INFORMS Fellow. In addition, Dick was the recipient of the INFORMS Kimball Medal for distinguished service, November 2002.

John Little will be honored at a Special Session at the INFORMS Society for Marketing Science Conference. The session is entitled ";John Little to Now in Honor of his 75th Birthday " and was held June 12–15, 2003.

Andrew Lo received the Guggenheim Fellowship, 2003–2004. Amedeo Odoni will be awarded an honorary doctorate from the faculty of the Athens University of Economics and Business in a ceremony that will take place at a later date. Amedeo will also receive a student-voted teaching award for two graduate courses he taught there in the spring of 2002.

Georgia Perakis was awarded a Career Development Chair from the Sloan School of Management, September 2002.

Andreas Schulz received an Excellence in Teaching Award from the Sloan School of Management, April 2003. In addition, he was the recipient of the INFORMS Operations Research Meritorious Service Award, September 2002.

Damian Beil was a finalist in the George Nicholson Student Paper Competition awarded by INFORMS for the best paper in Operations Research and the Management Sciences written by a student in November 2002.

Xin Chen received Honorable mention in the George Nicholson Student Paper Competition awarded by INFORMS for the best paper in Operations Research and the Management Sciences written by a student, November 2002.

In addition, Xin received the Second prize in the INFORMS MSOM Student Paper Competition.

José Correa received the TSL Best Paper Award from the INFORMS Section on Transportation Science and Logistics, November 2002.

Laura Kang received the Best Innovation AGIFORS Airline Operations Study Group award, June 2002.

Mahesh Kumar received the Best Student Paper Award at the International Conference in Statistics, Combinatorics and Related Areas, December 2002.

Melvyn Sim, received second place in the George Nicholson Student Paper Competition awarded by INFORMS for the best paper in Operations Research and the Management Sciences written by a student, November 2002.

Paulette Mosley, administrative officer, was the recipient of the 2002 Infinite Mile Award for Excellence from the Provost 's Office, May 2002.

Laura Rose, administrative assistant, was the recipient of the 2003 Infinite Mile Award for Excellence from the Provost 's Office, May 2003.

Edward Kaplan, an OR alumnus, was elected to the National Academy of Engineering. In addition, Ed was awarded the 2002 INFORMS Presidents ' Award for his important contributions to the welfare of society.

Ralph Keeney, an OR alumnus, was awarded the INFORMS Expository Writing Award, November 2002.

Santosh Vempala was promoted to associate professor.

James B. Orlin, Codirector, Edward Pennell Brooks Professor of Operations Research
John N. Tsitsiklis, Codirector, Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science

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


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