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~*~ operations research or die! ~*~ a blog by Laura McLay

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linear programming is a most unfortunate phrase

“[I]t seems to me that the term `linear programming’ is a most unfortunate phrase for this promising technique, particularly since many possible extensions appear to be in nonlinear directions. A more general yet more descriptive term, such as `bounded optimization,’ might have been a happier choice.Philip M. Morse (1953). Trends in operations research. Journal...

Operations research was declared dead in 1979

When I was a PhD student in the early 2000s, my advisor, Sheldon Jacobson, told me that some had once predicted the death of operations research. This came as a surprise to me, because it seemed like the discipline was flourishing. He agreed with me and named a few reasons why he thought operations research overcame its early growing pains. He noted...

Happy 15th birthday Punk Rock Operations Research!

It’s hard to believe that I started this blog fifteen years ago on April 2, 2007. Here are some milestones in the life of the blog: I published 762 posts.I started 105 drafts of blog posts that I never finished. Most of those drafts are a quick idea I saved to finish later, but inspiration for finishing the post never came. I updated the blog...

the mathematics of rare matchups in the March Madness tournament

This year’s Final Four is set in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, with Duke, the University of North Carolina (UNC), Kansas, and Villanova facing off this weekend. This is the first time Duke and UNC will play in the tournament. At first blush this is hard to believe when considering how often these two teams have played in the tournament (a combined...

International Women’s Day 2022 reading list

Happy International Women’s Day! I encourage you to join me in celebrating women’s achievements, raising awareness against bias, and taking action for equality. I am going to focus on women in academia today, since the COVID-19 pandemic has been particularly difficult for female tenure track professors who have young children. Over the years,...

Science communication for operations research

Last week I was on a panel about science communication hosted by the Women in OR & Analytics Network (WORAN), a network for female academics and practitioners created by the Operational Research Society of the UK. Marco Luebbecke (@mluebbecke) from RWTH Aachen was the other panelist. Our talk was recorded and posted on YouTube. You can watch it...

Omega Rho Keynote lecture at the 2021 INFORMS Annual Meeting

I was honored to give the Omega Rho keynote lecture at the 2021 INFORMS Annual Meeting. My talked was entitled “A journey through public sector operations research.” My presentation was recorded and can be viewed on YouTube. Laura Albert gives the 2021 Omega Rho KeynoteFurther reading: Op-Eds Travel bans can’t stop this pandemic. The...

On writing well part 2

“The secret of good writing is to strip every sentence to its cleanest components.”William Zinsser, On Writing Well In my previous post, I introduced an excerpt from On writing well by William Zinsser about how writing is work and we can learn to get better. What stuck with me from On writing well were his concrete tips for editing my drafts....

On writing well

When I was preparing for my preliminary exam, a friend gave me a copy of the 25th anniversary edition of On writing well by William Zinsser. I read it at once, devouring it in a couple of days. It instantly became one of my favorite books and is still my favorite book about writing. Zinsser was a journalist and published many nonfiction in his...

how to write about operations research

In my lab meeting this month, we discussed writing operations research publications. We read How to Write About Operations Research by Gerald G. Brown at the Naval Postgraduate School, a fabulous guide for writing technical publications in the field of operations research written in 2004. The entire paper is worth reading and discussing. The paper...

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