eNews Daily :: Day 4 :: Wednesday, October 25, 2017

2017 eNews Daily
DAY 4: Wednesday, October 25


Welcome to Day 4 of the INFORMS Annual Meeting! 

Key: GBCC - George R. Brown Convention Center   |  Hilton - Hilton Americas-Houston Hotel

Goodbye & Thank You

Thank you for joining INFORMS for the 2017 Annual Meeting, we hope you enjoyed your time in Houston! The INFORMS staff certainly did; it is always wonderful to see our members in person. We hope to see you again soon at the Analytics Conference (April 15-17) in our hometown of Baltimore, the International Conference (June 17-20) in Taipei, and the 2018 Annual Meeting in Phoenix, Arizona (November 4-7). Until next time, safe travels!


Join us in the Exhibit Hall for infORmational sessions about exciting new topics in INFORMS. Here is a list of today's sessions.


2018 International Conference
Meet committee members for the Taipei Conference and find out why you should attend.

Learn more about the analytics certification program.

INFORMS Diversity Committee
Learn about INFORMS commitment to diversity, equality, and inclusion.

Click here to see a current list of infORmational sessions.
Stop by to renew your 2017 membership and receive a free t-shirt
or click here to renew online. 

Need to know for #informs2017

All Conference Sessions will be held at the George R. Brown Convention Center, 1001 Avenida de las Americas, with special events being held at the Hilton Americas, 1600 Lamar Street.

Accessing WiFi in the Exhibit Hall
Network: INFORMS
Password: houston2017

Conference registration is located in GBCC - Exhibit Hall B3, Level 3 on Wednesday from 7am-1:30pm.

Express Check-in/Badge Printers
Express kiosks with name badge printers will be available for pre-registered attendees in GBCC, Exhibit Hall B3, Level 3 near INFORMS Registration.

Receipt Kiosk
Print your conference receipt on demand by going to GBCC - Exhibit Hall B3, Level 3 located near INFORMS Registration.

Download the Annual Meeting program book
Click here to download the program and save to your tablet, computer desktop, etc.

Technology Center 
The Technology Center is located in GBCC - Exhibit Hall B3, Level 3. A limited number of computers will be available. Name badges must be worn for admittance. The Technology Center will be open today, Wednesday, 9am-12:30pm.

Badge Required for Technical Sessions & Meeting Events
Badges MUST be worn to all meeting events. All attendees, including speakers and session chairs, must register and pay the registration fee. 

Mobile App
Use the INFORMS Meetings App to access detailed information, including the schedule of sessions, session abstracts, meeting locations, maps, exhibit details, and much more.

Passport Raffle
The final prize drawing will take place today. You must have at least 40 exhibitor stamps, and have turned your passport in yesterday by 5pm to be eligible. You must be present at the time of the drawing at 9:20am on Wednesday to win the prize. 

Recap of Tuesday's General Member Meeting

Thank you to everyone who attended last night's Member Meeting and to all the INFORMS staff who helped support it! Traditionally held the Saturday before the start of the Annual Meeting, this year the Member Meeting's new date ensured that even more INFORMS members were able to attend. As always, this event provided members and staff the opportunity to mingle and connect while hearing the latest news and updates on INFORMS.
Melissa Moore, Executive Director of INFORMS, shared an update on the strong state of INFORMS, both financially and in regards to member engagement, as well as the growth of INFORMS programs. In addition, Melissa recognized our many wonderful volunteers to thank them for all that they do for INFORMS!
However, the true theme of this year’s member meeting was Connecting, with Melissa sharing the many ways that INFORMS and its staff help connect INFORMS members with a rich community of O.R. and analytics professionals, students, and academics, as well as unique opportunities and valuable information.
INFORMS meetings, such as this year’s Annual Meeting, provide a forum for people around the world to come network, learn, and grow. The INFORMS subdivisions connect our members with thought leaders and experts. The 16 scholarly journals published by INFORMS connect professionals and students hungry to learn with amazing research. INFORMS Connect allows members to connect 365 days a year, 24 hours a day, and 7 days a week. Career fairs and online job postings enable members to post resumes online and learn about the latest job opportunities with leading employers. The list goes on!
INFORMS also connects our members’ ideas and needs with the development of new programs, such as Pro Bono Analytics, our Student Leadership Conference, and our new Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion initiative. Each of these efforts began as member ideas and the necessary connections were made to turn them into the vibrant INFORMS programs they are today.
Melissa shared that the most important connection that INFORMS provides is that of members to one another, enabling the sharing of ideas and expertise. In short, INFORMS connects its members to the people and information they need and want. The quality of our members is reflected in our growing membership, as more and more individuals want to join the growing ranks of INFORMS membership, which encompasses thousands of members from more than 90 countries around the world.
Attendees to the Member Meeting were also invited to share their journey to O.R. and analytics and what fuels their passion for these fields on specially crafted sticky notes to be added to those posted on the What’s Your StORy? wall in the exhibit hall. In addition, Melissa asked members to provide feedback, by participating in a survey question, accessible by clicking here, to share their thoughts on, “It would be great if INFORMS…” The best way for INFORMS to continue to grow and make new connections is with our members’ feedback!

2017 saw INFORMS grow in exciting ways and reach new milestones, and we are sure 2018 will bring even more!

Thank You INFORMS Volunteers!

The following INFORMS members received special recognition at Tuesday night's Member Meeting. Thank you for all that you do for INFORMS!

Recognition of Service for Journal Editors-in-Chief
Teck-Hua Ho, Editor-in-Chief, Management Science (2014-2017)
Stefanos Zenios, Editor-in-Chief, Operations Research (2012-2017)
J. Cole Smith, Series Editor, TutORials in Operations Research (2012-2017)

Distinguished Service Award
Saif Benjaafar, University of Minnesota
Guzin Bayraksan, The Ohio State University
Pooja Dewan, BNSF Railway
Chanaka Edirisinghe, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Murat Kurt, Merck & Co., Inc.
Irvin Lustig, CAP, Princeton Consultants
Suvrajeet Sen, University of Southern California

Meritorious Service Award
Michael Gorman, University of Dayton
Allen Holder, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology
Dorothee Honhon, University of Texas at Dallas
David Hunt, Oliver Wyman
Erick Moreno-Centeno, Texas A&M University
Robin Qiu, Pennsylvania State University
Chris Tang, University of California-Los Angeles

Service Award
Bjorn Berg, University of Minnesota
Shreya Gupta, University of Texas at Austin
Sadan Kulturel-Konak, Pennsylvania State University
Paul Messinger, CAP, University of Alberta
Sarah Nurre, University of Arkansas
Shengfan Zhang, University of Arkansas

Annual Meeting Blog Roundup 

Be sure to frequently check the Annual Meeting website to read commentary from your peers about their experiences in Houston. Feel free to post your own comment! 

And the Winner of the 2017 WORMS Award Is - Dr. Ruth Williams: One of my absolutely favorite events of the Annual INFORMS Conference is the WORMS (Women in Operations Research and the Management Sciences) Awards Luncheon that takes place on the Tuesday of the conference. Not only do we reconnect with colleagues from around the globe at the event (I sat next to a colleague from Singapore who traveled 20 hours to Houston) and enjoy a delicious lunch with an exceptional dessert, but we also recognize an individual with the WORMS Award. The WORMS Award celebrates and recognizes someone who has contributed significantly to the advancement and recognition of women in OR/MS. Read More.

Audience Participation: Bringing INFORMS Conferences Back to the Classroom: Many of us are missing class to be here. Depending on what tasks we left behind (sorry about the test, BA265!), our students may be enjoying our absence. I’m sure most of us feel that we become better researchers and teachers in the long-term as a result of being here. But perhaps our students aren’t aware of how professional conferences that we attend directly benefit them as well. Read More.

An Invite to all my Practitioner Friends: Do you work in Business or Industry or Government or are you interested in nonacademic pursuits?  Then come to the Business Meeting/Reception of the Practice Section of INFORMS this afternoon at 5 pm.  Appetizers, drinks, and great networking opportunities can be yours at the Tejas Grill & Sports Bar (1201 Lamar; three or four blocks northwest of the Hilton).  Also, if you are not already a member, I encourage you to join this dynamic group for an extra $20 when you renew your INFORMS membership. Read More.

7:30am Session on Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief as the Sun Was Rising: This morning I work up extra early and marched in the darkness to the Convention Center for our 7:30AM session on Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief. This was a first for me – speaking that early at an INFORMS conference. The session was terrific and many thanks to the Co-Chairs: Erica Gralla of GWU, and Ozlem Ergun and Keziban Rukiye Tasci of Northeastern University for organizing it. Read More.


Start your INFORMS Journey!
Stop by the Registration Desk or the INFORMS Center and learn how to get started.

Join a Community 
Whether you are a new or existing member, take some time while in Houston to sign up for a Community (also known as Subdivision) of your choice. There is no better way to maximize the utility of your membership. As a new 2017 or 2018 member, you qualify for a free Community!

Plenaries & Keynotes

Wednesday, October 25
Smarter Tools for (Citi)Bike Sharing: Cornell Rides Tandem with Motivate
GBCC - Grand Ballroom A, Level 3
David Shmoys & Shane Henderson, School of Operations Research and Information Engineering, Cornell University

A Probabilistic Theory of Deep Learning
GBCC - Grand Ballroom B, Level 3
Richard Baraniuk, Rice University

Leave Your Mark on Houston!

ColORing Wall
Wall murals are a thing in Houston. If you have the opportunity to take a self-guided tour of Houston's best paint walls and graffiti murals, make sure you take plenty of colorful selfies tagged with #informs2017! If you are feeling inspired to create your own mural, join us in the Exhibit Hall to help us make our own INFORMS Houston mural. Coloring is the new meditation, so take a brain break and show Houston some love!

Pro Bono Analytics
INFORMS Pro Bono Analytics has partnered with Star of Hope Mission, a community dedicated to meeting the needs of homeless men, women, and children. They encourage positive life changes through structured programs focusing on education, employment, life management, spiritual growth, and recovery from substance abuse.

We invite all Annual Meeting attendees to visit the INFORMS Center and volunteer a few minutes of their time to help build toiletry and hygiene kits that will be donated to Star of Hope Mission in support of their efforts. In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, it's just one more way for us to give back and help make a difference in Houston as they rebuild after the storm. We're grateful for the opportunity to assist Houston's homeless population on their road to recovery - every bit helps. We hope that you take a moment to stop by, build a kit, and learn more about how INFORMS is making an impact in underserved communities through analytics.

Donate with PayPal


What's Your StORy? Sticky Wall
We LOVE our members and their amazing stories! Share a little something with your fellow members by adding to our "What's Your StORy?" wall in the Exhibit Hall. Based on the popular monthly feature highlighting our members, answer one of several questions about yourself. We can't wait to see the diversity of members and answers! Also, it's a great photo op for your #informs2017 posts.

 Interactive Poster Session Winners

Monday, October 23
Congratulations to Ethan Mark (David Goldsman, Pinar Keskinocak, Hannah Smalley, Joel Sokol) from Georgia Tech for winning the Interactive Session on Monday with "Reducing Discarded Organs and Improving Physician-patient Decision-making via Decision-support Tools and Systems Optimization."

Every year, thousands of people die while waiting for an organ transplant. One of the contributing factors to this, is the gap between the number of organs available for transplantation, and the number of people waiting for a transplant. In 2015, for example, there were 122,071 people waiting at year end, but only 30,975 transplants performed in the U.S. Meanwhile, many organs from donors with increased risk for disease transmission (IRD) are being discarded. A CDC study discovered that the risk of these organs are often overestimated and that many that were discarded could have been used to provide lifesaving transplants. For an individual patient who is offered a potentially infectious organ, should the patient accept it even if it might be riskier, or remain on the waiting list for another, less risky organ? 

We addressed this question by producing separate organ transplant survival models from donors with evidence of HCV, HBV, encephalitis, and an increased risk of transmitting HIV. We will refer to organs from these donors as high-risk organs. We considered the Kidney, Heart, Lung and Liver. We also developed models to estimate the survival probability on the waiting list. Using our predictive models, we built interactive programs that show the survival curves for a patient either accepting the high-risk organ, or waiting for a non-high risk organ. We also used our program to simulate thousands of different patient scenarios. We found for example, that the majority of the simulated scenarios have a higher 5-year survival probability accepting a kidney from a donor with an increased risk of HIV, than waiting for a non high-risk kidney, when the estimated wait time is over 750 days.

Tuesday, October 24
Congratulations to Elias B. Khalil from Georgia Tech for winning the Interactive Session on Tuesday with "Learning in Discrete Optimization." 

Discrete optimization models are used for decision-making in virtually every industry. While solvers have improved dramatically over the last two decades, some of their key components rely on the developer's intuition, backed by limited trial-and-error. Our work aims at improving the performance of solvers for Mixed Integer Programming (MIP) and algorithms for Combinatorial Optimization by integrating Machine Learning in the algorithm design process. We have demonstrated the promise of our approach for branching variable selection and primal heuristics in MIP branch-and-bound, as well as greedy heuristics for graph optimization problems.


INFORMS Career Fair - Interview Days

Last chance in 2017 to be a part of the largest gathering of O.R. and analytics job seekers and employers by visiting the Career Fair and other professional development events. Preview job openings on INFORMS Connect. 
Career Fair on-site interviews are by appointment only.
GBCC - Exhibit Hall B3

Some employers may be accepting walk-ins for on-site interviews. Stop by the Career Fair booth in the Exhibit Hall for details and to drop off your resume.

Optimization and Analytics Applications in the Oil and Gas Industry

By Brittany Segundo
Cassandra McZeal, Computational Sciences Function Manager of ExxonMobil, began her keynote speech on the Optimization and Analytics Applications in the Oil and Gas Industry by explaining the operational structure of the oil and gas industry. The industry is typically divided into three sectors, upstream (exploration and production), midstream, and downstream (refining and supply, chemicals, fuels and lubricants), where each sector faces its own unique set of challenges.

One of the main applications for optimization techniques is Full Wavefield Inversion. Oil and gas companies use Full Wavefield Inversion to determine the location of the oil prior to drilling. The quantity of data gathered in the process is immense and provides an added layer of complexity.

Deciding how to develop offshore platforms, McZeal asserts, is a mixed integer nonlinear program that informs the number and location of pipeline connections as well as the position of the reservoirs. Modeling the reservoirs, she adds, is especially challenging.

Oil and gas companies regularly calculate gas lift allocation using data analytics. Gas lift operations necessitate the injection of the optimal quantity of gas as part of oil production; too much gas will result in a series of air pockets that cause the offshore platform to shake.

Whereas upstream operations can often be modeled using the techniques described, downstream and refinery processes require real-time optimization. After illustrating the breadth of analytical and optimization applications in oil and gas operations, McZeal hopes that the audience sees that optimization plays a vital role at ExxonMobil, who, she adds with a grin, is currently hiring.

A Look at Operations Research and Revenue Management in the Airline Industry

By Yeawon Yoo
How did you book a flight to Houston? Most attendees might book a flight through Skyscanner, Expedia or directly through an airline website. How do they deal with the complicated flight network and how does the reservation system develop? The Tuesday afternoon keynote session provided answers to these questions.
The keynote speaker is E. Andrew Boyd, who is a scheduled contributor to the Engines of Our Ingenuity, a nationally syndicated program produced by Houston’s National Public Radio affiliate, KUHF,  and a faculty member in the Department of Industrial Engineering at the University of Houston. Boyd began with a comparison between the number of seats in airline reservations in the early 1900s and today. In the early 1900s, an airline agency controlled 10 aircraft, 20 daily departures, 25 seats per flight, and 30 days in advance departure for booking, therefore, there are 15,000 managed seats in total. However,  Southwest Airlines has 723 aircraft, 3900 daily departures, 149 seats per flight, and 215 days in advance departures for booking (other airlines allow booking one year in advance), therefore, there are 124,936,500 managed seats in total.
He gave an interesting example with photos on how the airline industry and the hotel industry managed their reservations. In the hotel industry, they check their availability on the blackboard using red to notate as unavailable and white as available. At the end of 1950, computer reservations started. Even after the development of computer reservations, representatives still sat by the phone ready for passengers. At this point, travel agencies started getting involved, therefore, there were three steps to get to central reservations, a travel agent sends the flight schedule information and documents to the reservations agent and the reservations agent had access to the central reservation system. After 1960, United and American Airlines started their own industrywide central reservation system. Using the system, their revenue increased by 27% and 43%, respectively. Then, after the Internet comes, everything changed, which is how the current reservation system is today.
He closed the session with revenue management and pricing in the airline industry. He said, “there is a trick of revenue management system in the ticket. There is a ‘fare class.’ There is a fare class, which is Y, M, B, Q, or other single alphabet. It stands for $900 fully refundable ticket, $600 not refundable, change fees, baggage fees, $500 not refundable, change fees, baggage fees, $400 not refundable, change fees, baggage fees, respectively. In this really sophisticated system, even if you saw $400 yesterday, you could not see this ticket anymore today.” He described the reason why a fare class is a single alphabet character saying “since a byte of data was expensive in the past, the number of characters itself was also expensive. So, we used fare class as one, in order to avoid the waste of space. Therefore, this type of legacy continues on in the airline industry, even though we can run a terabyte of data these days.”

Getting Funded by the NSF: Proposal Preparation and the Merit Review Process

By Yeawon Yoo
If you missed the Monday morning session, Tips for Writing CAREER Proposals, then, this was another opportunity to get ideas about proposal preparation and the merit review process from the program director from the National Science Foundation (NSF).
Irina Dolinskaya, an associate program director at the NSF, opened her session by introducing the average funding rate (~15%) and how we can beat this funding rate by improving our proposals. First, she explained the NSF strategic goals by saying that “what NSF does is to support all fields of fundamental science and engineering, however, it does not support medical science, since it is supported by the National Institutes of Health. Also, NSF ensures that research is integrated with education so that today’s revolutionary work will also be training tomorrow’s top scientists and engineers.
She also described the merit review timeline. She suggested the principal investigator communicates with the program director to determine the program fit one month before the submission window. After the submission, the program director reads the proposals, identifies reviewers, and assembles panels. After four months, reviewers perform six to eight proposal reviews, and panels convene to discuss and rank proposals. At the six-month mark, the program director recommends proposals for funding. Once the recommendation goes through the approval process, principal investigators are notified.
Dolinskaya said, “The proposal foundations are the following: 1) It is writing to the reviewers, not to the program director or not to yourself. 2) Reviewers want to know four things, what is it about? (the research objective), how will you do it? (the technical approach), can you do it? (you and your facilities), is it worth doing? (intellectual merit and broader impacts). But, make sure the answer to this question is as obvious as possible in 15 pages. Make it upfront!”
She kindly introduced “do and don’ts.” For do, she emphasized that you have to differentiate this proposal from your doctoral thesis work and other sponsored work that has a strategic plan, read the NSF proposal and award policies and procedures guidelines, and volunteer to serve on reviewer panels. For don’t, she mentioned, do not wait until the last minute (one month) to contact program directors, and start the conversation early, do not try to convince the program director to fund your proposal, and do not argue that your proposal fits the program.

You Gotta Know When to Hold'em

Poker players beware, Libratus is on the scene!

The name Libratus is derived from Latin, meaning balanced, but in the case of playing four of the best specialists in Texas Hold’em, the artificial intelligence (AI) program was forceful. The actual event took place over 20 days in January, and represented a rematch of sorts from an earlier experiment tried in 2015. The pros who participated, Dong Kim, Jimmy Chou, Daniel McAulay, and Jason Les, are some of the foremost players in Texas Hold’em in the world. Libratus was a 4-1 underdog and 120,000 hands were played. The final result? A victorious one for Libratus, as each of the four players lost and Libratus won by a margin of 147 mbb/hand. This is the first time an AI program has triumphed over humans in Texas Hold’em.

The three modules of Libratus, discussed in depth by Tuomas Sandholm of Carnegie Mellon University, are the blueprint strategy, the subgame solver, and the self-improver. In interviews interspersed throughout the presentation, the players came to the same conclusion. It was very difficult to exploit weaknesses in Libratus, as one of the secrets of the self-improver is filling holes in the betting tree. In essence, your opponent is telling you where holes are in your strategy and the AI program can then adjust as needed to close those potential areas of exploitation.

Some of the strengths of Libratus were in the way it played, which one could describe as unconventional. Libratus relied on a strategy of small bets, huge bets, and huge all-ins, perfect balance, mixed strategy, “donking,” which is a type of bet that comes from the non-aggressor in the hand, near-perfect subgame play, and different bet sizings in subgame plays, among others.

The pros who lost to Libratus should take solace though. A follow-up game happened in China, called Lengpudashi versus humans. It involved six poker players playing 36,000 hands. The margin of victory was 220 mbb/hand, which is quite stunning.

Poker has been a recognized challenge in game theory and AI for well over half a century and there are exciting new areas of application and future research on the horizon.

2017 Daniel H. Wagner Prize for Excellence in Operations Research Practice

Nearly 100 unique factors have to be considered during the complicated task of assigning inmates to any of the Pennsylvania Department of Correction’s 25 facilities. What once took seven employees nearly a week to accomplish can now be completed in less than 10 minutes at an expected savings of nearly $3 million, thanks to an algorithm created by a team of Lehigh University students and professors, and the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections. In recognition of their unique new application of operations research (O.R.), Tamás Terlaky, Mohammad Shahabsafa, Chaitanya Gudapati, Anshul Sharma, Louis J. Plebani, and George R. Wilson, Lehigh University; and Kristofer B. Bucklen, Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, were presented the Daniel H. Wagner Prize for Excellence in Operations Research Practice by INFORMS, the leading international association for analytics and operations research.
The prize-winning paper, “The Inmate Assignment and Scheduling Problem and its Application in the PA Department of Corrections,” not only realized profound success in a real world setting, but had a strong mathematical foundation that was easily and concisely communicated. The award was presented during the 2017 INFORMS Annual Meeting in Houston, TX, which attracted more than 5,600 students, academics, professionals, and industry leaders from around the world.
Over a period of five years, the team from Lehigh University worked closely with the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections to successfully implement the novel Inmate Assignment Decision Support System (IADSS). IADSS was designed to address the problems associated with inmate assignment by providing an optimal, simultaneous system-wide assignment tool. This project, which has been recognized for its contribution on the floors of the House and Senate in the Pennsylvania Capitol and included in the permanent record of Pennsylvania, is the first time that O.R. methodologies have been used to optimize operations in the correctional system.
The additional finalists for the 2017 award were:
  • Forecasting and Optimization Models for Audience Targeting on Television by Wes Chaar, J. Antonio Carbajal, CAP, and Peter Alexander Williams, Turner Broadcasting System, Inc.
  • Crew Decision Assist: Optimizing Crew Deployment for Freight Trains by Dasaradh Mallampati, Brian Roth, Pooja Dewan, April Kuo, and Juan Morales, BNSF Railway; and Anant Balakrishnan, University of Texas at Austin
  • Optimized Scoring Systems; Towards Trust in Machine Learning for Healthcare and Criminal Justice by Cynthia Rudin, Duke University; and Berk Ustun, MIT
  • Outcome-Driven Personalized Treatment Design for Managing Diabetes by Eva Lee, Georgia Tech
  • Dispatch Optimization in Bulk Tanker Transport Operations by Ted L. Gifford, Tracy Opicka, Ashesh Sinha, Daniel Vanden Brink, and Andy Gifford, Schneider National Incorporated; and Robert Randall, Princeton Consultants

2017 Franz Edelman Award Reprise

Ahmet Kuyumcu, co-founder and CEO of Prorize LLC, a premier provider of revenue management solutions for the senior living, self-storage, and other rental-pricing industries, provided the reprise for the INFORMS 2017 Franz Edelman Award, which was presented to Holiday Retirement and Prorize LLC at the INFORMS Business Analytics Conference in Las Vegas, NV earlier this year.
Holiday Retirement, the largest private owner and operator of independent senior living communities in the U.S. with more than 300 facilities and approximately $1 billion in annual revenue, selected Prorize LLC, an Atlanta-based revenue management (RM) firm, as a partner to analyze, develop, and implement the first RM system in the industry to replace Holiday’s previous approach to pricing. The resulting state of the art system, based on innovative pricing science modules and processes, is the Senior Living Rent Optimizer (SLRO).

The SLRO system enables a consistent and proactive pricing process across Holiday Retirement, while simultaneously providing optimal pricing recommendations for each unit in every one of their communities. An interconnected software package with complex sets of interactions and flows, the SLRO system gives Holiday Retirement control of their corporate pricing process, prevents inventory devaluation, and maximizes long-term revenue.

In addition, the SLRO system represents the first time operations research brought revenue management techniques commonly practiced in other industries to the senior living industry, where it is continuing to gain traction and be explored or implemented by other organizations.

Uber and Analytics: A Match Made in Heaven

By Brittany Segundo
Robert Phillips is the Director of Data Science at Uber Technologies. Throughout the session, he says, he aims to convince us of two things: Analytics is core to the Uber platform and Uber is working on the hardest, most interesting, and challenging problems in the world.

He transitions into a discussion of the unique class of problems Uber faces. Uber’s forecasting needs are complex but simultaneously critical for driving marketplace decisions. Uber scientists forecast the number of cars in a specific area at a particular time, the number of sessions (where users log into the app to check prices without taking action), and estimated times of arrival versus estimated times a driver must wait until the next rider is available.

Uber researchers produce these forecasts a week in advance, but the company struggles to accommodate spontaneous events. For instance, the Women’s March was organized on a Wednesday and occurred on the following Saturday, so the service was unable to prepare for the influx of riders in advance.

One of the company’s most recent accomplishments is the accommodation of mid-trip swaps. Assume a driver and rider approximately 10 minutes apart have been matched. If a new rider and driver, respectively, were to appear more closely to each party, the Uber app employs real-time algorithms to conduct a simultaneous swap of rider and driver so as to minimize everyone’s travel.

After Phillips walks through a broad range of analytical applications, he describes the opportunities available to OR/MS practitioners, including residences and summers at the San Francisco headquarters. Interested parties should stop by the Uber booth to hear more about the available openings.

Share your Experience

Share your photos and video using #INFORMS2017, and follow @INFORMS2017 on Twitter for official conference updates. This year INFORMS will be live streaming from the meeting on Instagram and follow us on Snapchat at @INFORMS_ORMS for real-time conference videos and the INFORMS Houston Geofilter, which will be available in the Convention Center and Hilton. Be sure to check out conference photos on the INFORMS Flickr account.

Join the Annual Meeting LinkedIn Group and the Annual Meeting Connect Group to virtually connect with fellow attendees and discuss key topics of the day. 

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