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OR54 Annual Conference - Plenary Speakers

Chris Dent


Challenges in energy system modelling: data, optimisation and futurology

Mathematical modelling is used as a means of taking systematic decisions across all aspects of planning and operation of energy systems. This presentation will look in detail at three aspects:

  • Assessment of whether there is sufficient generating capacity installed in a power system in order to support demand with a given level of reliability. Generation adequacy is one of the fundamental aspects of system planning, and impinges on wider society through the dependence of modern life on a reliable electricity supply. However, as with many problems of modelling rare events, directly relevant data are very sparse. This section of the presentation will describe how the first Great Britain statutory adequacy study confronted this issue.
  • Operational scheduling. Power system optimisation problems have a unique structure as power flows are governed by the physical laws of circuit theory. The optimisation routines in current energy system management software will be outlined, and the challenges of operational planning under uncertainty in systems with high capacities of renewable generation, and of system scheduling in future smartgrids with many more small scale controllable generators and demands.
  • The use of models to understand the future evolution of energy systems. Mathematical modelling is increasingly used to understand the evolution of energy systems over timescales of decades. However, due to the complexity of the energy economy, and extreme uncertainty over model inputs such as technology growth, drawing robust conclusions for real energy systems based on the study of models is not straightforward. A survey of current 'futurology' models in use in the UK and of challenges in their development will be presented.

Short biography

Dr. Chris Dent AFORS is Lecturer in Energy Systems Modelling in the School of Engineering and Computing Sciences at Durham University. Prior to this position, following 7 years in Physics research, he studied for the MSc in OR at Edinburgh University, before moving into energy research in 2007. He has interests across electrical power systems analysis, including risk and reliability modelling, optimisation, renewables integration, economics and network planning. He plays a particular role in developing links between the power systems and mathematical sciences communities, having co-organised the Energy Systems Week at the Isaac Newton Institute for Mathematical Sciences in 2010, coordinated an Energy Systems special issue of the Journal of Risk and Reliability, and founded the annual "Risk and Reliability Modelling of Energy Systems" day at Durham University. He has recently worked with National Grid on the first statutory GB generation capacity adequacy assessment.


Jason Field


Operational Research – Supporting Defence and Security

The application of Operational Research (OR) to current day defence and security challenges can allow for a greater understanding, or systems view, of the overall problem space. Use of specific methods and techniques can highlight the impacts and issues associated with potential solutions. Dstl provide support to the Ministry of Defence and many other government departments with the practical use of OR methods ranging from decision support, risk analysis and facilitation through to complex computer modelling and simulation. This input has informed both policy decisions and design of security measures. The work has allowed assessment of the effectiveness of the proposed solutions, accounting for cost, risk and impact to provide the final decision maker with additional useful information.

This presentation will focus on the practical application of the OR methods and their place in supporting the decision makers. The presentation will give a background to the variety of techniques used and examples of the output from the work. The presentation will draw from a number of real life case studies in support of defence and security across government from policy support to the design of new security systems. Through these case studies, the presentation will highlight the challenges in the use of OR, its place in the decision making process and consider how best to present the output from studies to maximise the messages for non OR specialists. The presentation will hope to demonstrate that appropriate use of OR can have a significant impact in decision making in defence and security.

Short biography

Jason has worked for the MoD for the last 23 years as an Operational Researcher. He currently works in the Dstl Programme Office and is the Domain Leader for Security. He has a degree in management science and IT.

During his career, Jason has lead teams delivering OR products for MoD, been a MoD OR scrutineer and been a senior analyst responsible for quality of delivery of OR products. Over the last 6 years, Jason has focussed on the challenges of providing S&T and OR support to non MoD government departments.


John Hopes


OR and analytics – an opportunity for growth

Analytics has gained a high profile in recent years in business and in government, largely driven by the explosion in data volumes in the digital economy (the so called “big data” issue).  It has also been a major focus for the OR Society which has identified it as an opportunity both to expand its offering to its existing members and to reach out to new members in the wider analytics community.

This session will set the scene by describing the analytics landscape, the various areas of application, the software market and the reasons why it is seen as a driver of competitive advantage.  It will explore the different categories of analytics - descriptive, predictive and prescriptive - and will look at their relationship with OR.  It will also summarise some of the key themes that emerged from the OR Society’s recent one day advanced analytics national event, illustrating these themes with case study examples.  It will then move on to describe the OR Society’s analytics initiative, the progress that has been made to date and the next steps that are currently being taken to ensure that the Society becomes a key player in promoting analytics and in meeting the needs of the analytics community.  It will also summarise the steps that INFORMS has made to support the analytics community in the US.

Plenty of time will be allowed for discussion and to receive comments and suggestions on the future direction of this important initiative for the OR Society.

Short biography

John Hopes is a partner in Ernst & Young’s Business Modelling practice, a team of over 100 people in the UK and over 300 globally.  He has over 30 years experience of delivering OR, financial modelling and analytics solutions, both in industry and as a consultant.

His career began with Shell where he worked in a variety of roles covering OR, strategic planning and production economics.  He then moved into consulting with KPMG where he progressed from senior consultant to partner within the modelling team before becoming leader of the customer management consulting practice.  He joined Ernst & Young 11 years ago to lead the Business Modelling practice.

John is also currently one of two Vice Presidents of the OR Society.




Geoff Royston


Operational Research for the real world: big questions from a small island

The address will explore, from an unlikely starting point, some key questions that are important for operational research, seeking to draw lessons from the past, gather ideas from the present and provide messages for the future.  It will argue that “real world“ operational research needs to take its subject more seriously and that this requires some developments in both theory and practice.  It will conclude by suggesting some implications for education, for research, for practice, for clients and for society.

Short biography

Dr Geoff Royston is former Head of Strategic Analysis and Operational Research in the Department of Health for England and a former Chair of the Government Operational Research Service. He is now an independent analyst and researcher and is currently President of the Operational Research Society,

He has had a wide range of activities and responsibilities involving analysis, modelling and research to inform the design, implementation and evaluation of evidence-based policies and programmes in the health field.

He has also worked on information and communication technology in the health sector, has been an adviser to the UK communications industry regulator (OFCOM), and led the design and launch of the national telephone advice service NHS Direct.

He has been an external examiner for postgraduate courses in operational research and management science, has served on both scientific and medical UK Research Council panels and is a member of the editorial board for the journal Health Care Management Science.

He has experience in the international health arena including being a consultant for the World Health Organisation, a member of the expert advisory panel for the HIFA2015 (Healthcare Information for All) initiative and a long standing member of the European Working Group on Operational Research Applied to Health Services.