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North East OR moving South, kind of…

Tuesday, 27 Mar 2018
Hope Meadows

For the first time, Analyst Network North East (ANNE) hosted an event outside of Newcastle. This was a bit of an experiment to see whether the progress we had made building the OR community in the North East, over three events in 2016 and 2017, could be replicated in Darlington. For those of you who know your railways, just three stops down the East Coast Mainline (no prizes available for correctly guessing which three stops they are). I’m delighted to say it went really well.

 To get us started, we had the pleasure of Ruth Kaufman, Immediate Past President of the OR society, opening the event. Ruth told us about the strengths and opportunities in operational research today: how the profession is flourishing and taking advantage of the soft boundaries between techniques, enabling people to work in multi-disciplinary teams and have a real-world impact. Speaking of impact, Ruth also shared examples of how OR is contributing, from managing beds and waiting times in our hospitals to counting presidential inauguration crowds and even using optimization to mix animal feed.

Next up, Mark Craigie from the Department for Education (DfE) shared a presentation on applying regression modelling within the Teacher Supply Model (TSM). The TSM, which is published online, is a stocks and flows model used by DfE to estimate the number of teachers it needs to recruit each year, to have enough teachers in total to teach our kids. Mark’s talk focused on developing an understanding of how a new qualification type, English Baccalaureate, affected the TSM. He discussed the problems of data availability, analytical options considered and rejected, ending with an example of applying LOESS regression (Locally weighted scatterplot smoothing). At the end of the presentation, Mark then shared the lessons he learnt from the analysis which he is aiming to apply in the future.

 Following Mark’s talk, we tried out another experiment. Spread across two rooms, we organised the attendees into groups so they got a chance to talk to people they didn’t know. We then gave people five minutes to have a discussion, before they moved onto the next person in their group. We received really good feedback on this part of the event, as it gave people the opportunity to talk to peers, who they might not otherwise have spoken to. Well done to the organisers for pulling off some fairly complicated logistics!

After a spot of tea and coffee, we ended the event with two further presentations. Matt Linsley from the Industrial Statistical Research Unit (ISRU) at Newcastle University, shared ways in which frequentist and Bayesian approaches can be used to estimate and forecast a range of problems. For example, the quality of production of consumer products or daily gas demand forecasts in a geospatial basis. Did you know that gas travels at 20mph?

Matt Harte then finished off with a presentation about how Accenture is growing its business offer to clients across the region (and beyond), from its expanding office in North Tyneside. Through its application platforms, they are creating cloud-based solutions which enable companies to bring together different datasets and software packages into a single place. Matt shared some examples of this in practice and I think everyone (well, at least I) got very excited about how Accenture had been working with Ducati, to undertake real time optimisation of motorbike settings to improve performance.

Next up for us is a return to Newcastle for our event in the Summer, with another adventure to Durham in the Autumn. See you there!

If you would like to engage with us you can find us on twitter @AnalystNetNE or join the group on LinkedIn ‘Analyst Network North East’.

 

 

 


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