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Tuesday, 10 Oct 2017
Amy Patrick

The  EURO Winter Institute on Lot Sizing and Related Topics is for 25 advanced PhDs and young Post-Docs to meet and learn from senior experts, to study various special topics in the context of lot sizing, and present relevant papers to peers.

The Institute will be held at the university campus of the European University Viadrina in Frankfurt (Oder), Germany. The closing date for applications is 31st October 2017 and notification of acceptance will be in December 2017.

There is no registration fee. The EURO Winter Institute will cover the accommodation in a single room, meals (breakfast and lunches) and social activities. Travelling expenses are not included. However, Scholarships for travel to (and from) the Institute are available from the OR Society.  Applications for Scholarships are being accepted from now until the deadline of Wednesday 31st January 2018 for any candidates who have already applied or intend to apply to the EURO Winter Institute. Applications should include a detailed CV, names and contact details of two independent referees (who must be members of the Operational Research Society), and a previously unpublished paper written by the candidate and which they intend to present at the Institute. Please send applications to the OR Society’s Research and Publications Officer at

Thursday, 5 Oct 2017
Amy Patrick

EURO is pleased to announce the travel-sponsorship of up to two participants to join the XXII ELAVIO - Latin- American Summer School in Operations Research ( Please find the Call for Participation at Participants must be studying in a EURO member country - see Please note that talks and lectures will be either in English, Spanish or Portuguese (in all the cases with English slides). Candidates selected MUST be proficient in English and either Spanish or Portuguese. Also please note that the deadline for students to apply to their National Society is 30th October 2017.

Friday, 15 Sep 2017
Amy Patrick

This is one article from the September 2017 edition of Inside OR, our monthly periodical available in digital and print formats to current members of the OR Society. ORS Members may sign in to see the full issue.

By Nigel Cummings

On 2 July this year, at the Mathematics Education Research Group of Australasia (MERGA) conference, Australia’s Chief Scientist Dr Alan Finkel spoke about Florence Nightingale’s contribution to mathematics.

Florence Nightingale, OM, RRC, DStJ was born in 1820, in Florence, Italy. She was a born mathematician insomuch that, even as a child, her hobby wasbuilding statistical tables in which she captured trends in the vegetable output from the family garden. In later years she requested tutelage in mathematics and studied the subject for two hours every day. She actually became a maths tutor herself, before applying for a position as a superintendent in the British military. Then the career advancement that made her famous occurred: she was deployed to the battlefront as a nurse in charge, a battlefront where she collected extensive data in soldier mortality rates.

@YourLifeTeam via YouTube

Whilst the visits to the soldiers in wards at night were essential to monitor progress and administer additional medical
support, Florence also used these ‘rounds’ to collect statistical data on her hospital patients.

The data she collected formed the basis of an 850 page report that was published in 1858. That report is said to have saved thousands of lives by prompting major reforms in hospital practice. As her nursing career began to wind down she helped to establish the International Statistical Congress, and served as a data consultant in the US Army in the American Civil War.

At the age of 38, Florence Nightingale became the first female member of the Royal Statistical Society and Dr Finkel said that rather than being dubbed the “Lady of the Lamp” she should perhaps be renamed as the “Lady with the Logarithm”, because she saved more lives by her grasp of numbers than by her gift for nursing and she put data at the heart of healthcare as we know it today.

Dr Finkel said, “She should be known as the patron saint of mathematics”. He said Florence Nightingale “understood the incentives that led students in the study of maths… She understood the reality of maths from an early age and did not consider herself to be naturally gifted in maths, but she did believe she had the capacity to learn, and so she refused to settle for the level of maths education thought fitting for girls of her time. Instead she demanded from her parents the support to raise herself to something higher, something that would make it possible to participate fully in public life.”

Nightingale was not alone in her passion for numbers though. By the time Queen Victoria came to the throne in 1837, even politicians were using statistics to floor their opponents. What was unusual in these times was that a woman would enter the field of mathematics and produce work that could actually make a difference!

Everyone knew that in a war soldiers get shot. Everyone knew that people who were shot tended to die. What they didn’t know was that the vast majority of deaths in the Crimean War weren’t caused by wounds at all – they were caused by diseases like cholera and typhus. Regrettably military leaders didn’t implement the basic sanitary precautions in field hospitals and military barracks that would save lives by stopping the spread of disease.

With her medical skills, analytical mind, knowledge of mathematics and statistical derivation Florence Nightingale saw the problem but she needed her own ‘ammunition’ to prove her theories. She manufactured it in the form of data which she was then able to present graphically to her male ‘superiors’ and prove her case – she used the polar area diagram method to display her statistics she had so painstakingly gathered.

Her work delivered credible insight and clear, compelling displays of the causes of death, and the opportunities afforded to reduce mortalities. Suddenly the problem was no longer too abstract to be ignored. Those who saw her work and the graphical displays she produced became able to understand that the problems of mortality in field hospitals were fixable, lives could be saved.

Dr Finkel went on to say, “That is how a woman – a nurse – took on the top brass of the British military and won.” It was all done with mathematics and, what is more, perhaps the next time we think of Florence Nightingale it should be as a mathematician rather than solely a nurse.

“Evidence can give decisionmakers in all these communities the impetus and confidence to act. But it can only do so if we present it in an actionable form. It cannot be just a statement of problems. It cannot be just a statement of demands. It has to be written, and read, as a statement of opportunities.

“In many respects the redoubtable Ms Nightingale could be regarded as an early Operational Researcher, like her, we operate and provide solutions by delivering evidence which we derive from data utilising a vast array of tools at our disposal. Like her we present our evidence to stake holders and decision makers. Like her we make a difference!”

Read more about Florence Nightingale at: and

Tuesday, 12 Sep 2017
ORinSchools (ORiS)

 Think O.R. and Maths is important but not sure how you could promote it?

 Volunteers are a fundamental part of the outreach work we do - whether that's giving a career talk, attending a university job fair or running a workshop at a local school, an O.R. professional has the ability to enthuse, motivate and inspire younger students. 


The OR in Schools (ORiS) initiative, set up 10 years ago, promotes O.R. to young people and their teachers. It was created after a review highlighted a lack of awareness around O.R. and in a bid to fulfil the Society’s vision that “every school child knows what O.R. is”. ORiS connects with schools, colleges, and universities across the UK with the aim to engage and encourage young people to actively participate in Maths and O.R. techniques. ORiS want students to better understand where and why maths and O.R. might be used (and hopefully even consider it as a career).

Volunteers are an essential part of this – and we need even more members to share their expertise. Through an educational visit, young people are given the opportunity to actively engage with O.R. techniques and to better understand where and why they might be used. This can make all the difference - and set a student on the path to becoming an O.R. member themself!

We’re running three training sessions for volunteers so you have all the information they need to get involved. The training will include an overview of what the OR in Schools (ORiS) initiative is all about, the type of visits you could get involved in and practical tips to get started. You'll get the chance to take part in fun activities (such as playing with lego or board games) and of course the opportunity to network with others. We promise it will be lots of fun, and will equip you with the skills you need to run these workshops.

No prior experience is necessary - just enthusiasm to show young people how important maths and O.R. is!


1. Bristol – Monday 9th October 2017  (16:00 – 18:00)

Sign up here:


2. South Wales – Wednesday 25th October 2017 (14:00 – 16:00)

Sign up here:


3. Brighton – Thurs 2nd November 2017 (15:00 – 18:00)

Sign up here:

Friday, 21 Jul 2017
Jeffrey Jones

In March 2016, Professor Sir Adrian Smith was asked to undertake, on behalf of HMT and DfE, a review of 16-18 mathematics education. Prompted by the increasing importance of mathematical and quantitative skills to the future UK workforce and the relatively low level of student participation in continuing mathematics education post-16 in England, the report identifies a strong case for raising participation in post-16 mathematics and improving skills.

The report is structured under four broad headings:

  • the appropriate range of 16-18 mathematics pathways needed;
  • the factors that encourage or discourage individual students to participate;
  • levels of attainment and progression;
  • the capacity to deliver, both in terms of provision of courses and teaching capability.

Sir Adrian is clear about the fundamental importance of basic mathematical and quantitative skills, not just to the country but also to the individual, and the report presents strong evidence for their value to all students, whichever route they take. The report recognises that there are a number of systemic challenges that currently hold back participation in mathematics post-16, and it sets out recommendations to address them. The recommendations cover the following broad themes:

  • Work to improve participation in level 3 mathematics qualifications, including new core maths qualifications, and develop the capability and capacity of the workforce.
  • Designing technical routes that have mathematical and quantitative skills at their core.
  • Improving outcomes for students yet to achieve a standard pass (grade 4) or above in GCSE mathematics.

The review also comments on the wider issues that influence attitudes towards mathematics in society and students’ perceptions of it. These issues go far beyond the 16-18 period of education that is the review’s main focus.


Alongside the launch of the review, the DfE will be publishing its letter responding to Sir Adrian. This will welcome the review and recommendations, recognising that the generational issues that Sir Adrian outlines will require further detailed engagement and action between government, industry and schools and colleges. The response will also highlight a number of recommendations against which we have been able to take immediate action.

Addressing the issues raised by the report and its recommendations is a priority for the government and publication is the beginning of a process of considering how DfE can support greater numbers of pupils to participate and succeed in post-16 mathematics.

 Department for Education

Friday, 14 Jul 2017
Jeffrey Jones

Industrial Cooperative Awards in Science & Technology (CASE) provide funding for PhD studentships where businesses take the lead in arranging projects with an academic partner of their choice.

In this instance, the successful candidate will join the Airbus Centre of Excellence in Cyber Security Analytics within the Complex Systems research group under the supervision of Dr Pete Burnap, and collaborate with Airbus Group Innovations at their site in South Wales.

This 4 year PhD project will investigate the possibility of training deep neural networks to detect malware using machine activity data during the execution of windows executable files. The novel element of the study will be to investigate the possibility of capturing the overall neuron activation state of the entire deep neural net and to identify areas of the net that can be optimized through recurrent feedback across the entire deep neural net using innovative methods beyond back propagation. Furthermore, this activity will be applied at scale on real-time sample throughput, so the project will also investigate methods for innovative input data reduction techniques and parallel training methods such as those supported by Apache SPARK and Microsoft’s Cognitive Toolkit. The outcomes of the project will lead to novel computer science articles. The student would be given full access to Airbus facilities in Newport and be integrated into the Cyber Operations team as a member of the research unit, providing first-hand industry R&T experience

The Cardiff School of Computer Science & Informatics is a research-led School in one of the UK’s premier universities with a leading, international reputation for excellent teaching and research activities. It hosts the Airbus Centre of Excellence in Cyber Security Analytics.
More information on CASE awards and financial details can be found here -


Monday, 27 Feb 2017
Jeffrey Jones

Chartered Scientist: a new opportunity from the OR Society by Ruth Kaufman, OR Society President


 We are delighted to announce that for the first time, the OR Society is able to offer a chartered qualification to its members. Chartered Scientist is a Science Council award that recognises generic scientific competence. It is only available to members of bodies licensed by the Science Council – and as of now, that includes the OR Society. Read on to find out why you should be interested, who this is for, and how you take things further. Why? There are two good reasons to consider Chartered Scientist: because of what it tells other people about what you have achieved and what you do; and because of how it helps you achieve more, better. The initials CSci after your name tell the world that you have been independently assessed as meeting certain minimum standards of competence and experience; that you are continuing to keep your skills up-to-date; and that you are committed to comply with an independent code of conduct. There are currently around 10,000 Chartered Scientists in the UK, and the Science Council is committed to publicising and promoting the award amongst employers, so that the level of recognition is steadily increasing. Applying for Chartered Scientist encourages you to consider and reflect on your experience so far, recognise your strengths and identify how you can continue to develop. As a Chartered Scientist you are required to undertake, and keep records of continuing professional development: a process which encourages and motivates meaningful building of your professional competence. You are also required to abide by a code of conduct, which helps endorse your integrity and professional ethics.

For O.R. generalists, the Chartered Scientist is particularly suitable because it places great emphasis on the generic scientific competences – of searching for the evidence and data, be it quantitative or qualitative, and respecting that evidence when you’ve found it; of using rigorous reasoning (inference or deduction) rather than leaps of faith; of curiosity and creativity in understanding and changing the world. It relates to what unites us at the most elementary level, rather than specifying any particular methodologies. CSci doesn’t replace our own O.R. accreditations, which are ideal if you want to demonstrate your specific O.R. credentials, but sits alongside as an addition or alternative if you want something which is more widely recognised, or which requires CPD and ethical compliance. Who? The minimum requirement for Chartered Scientist is normally 4 years practical experience post-MSc, or sufficient post BA/ BSc experience to demonstrate equivalence. It is more-or-less equivalent to our own AFORS (Associate Fellow of the OR Society). If you are interested in principle, but at an earlier stage in your career, then it is worth thinking now about how to ensure you sail through your CSci application when the time comes. We strongly encourage you to consider CandORS (for new graduates) and AORS (for those with a little experience). These will set you on the path of identifying your skills and experience and keeping track of your developing competences. Even better, they will enable you to present with confidence your evidence under Requirement E2 on the CSci application form: Demonstrate a commitment to professional development through continuing advancement of own knowledge, understanding and competence. It is also essential for an applicant to be a full member of the OR Society. This award is not open to affiliates.  This is because the Science Council requires membership of a licensed body as part-evidence of your personal commitment to professional standards and development. If you want to know more about ‘who’, elsewhere in this issue you can read about the experiences of Andy Harrison and Sophie Carr, long-standing Chartered Scientists and members of the OR Society. How? The OR Society is awarding CSci through the Science Council’s ‘Central Application Process’, a system that has been long established for other Science Council qualifications but has only just been extended to CSci. At this stage, therefore, we are only encouraging applications from people who are willing to act as ‘beta-testers’ for the new systems and processes. If this is you: read on! if not, watch out for further information in three months or so. To apply, go to the Portal on the Science Council website ¹. The application is in two stages. At Stage 1, you are asked to provide basic information (including the names of two ‘supporters’ who can vouch for your professional achievement)   which is then individually reviewed by Science Council staff to check your eligibility. If they are satisfied, you will be invited to continue to Stage 2, submitting a full application which will be reviewed by professional Chartered Scientists/OR Society members trained as assessors. The fee, set by the Science Council, is currently £25 pa for the Chartership (rising to £30 from 2018), plus £25 administration fee for the initial on-line application. There is plenty of background material on the Science Council website. For more specifically O.R.-based information, we will be building up a collection of useful materials on our website CSCI/, including: a list of the designations available to OR Society members, and how you might choose which one(s) are for you; a ‘typical profile’ of an OR Society CSci;  an example completed application form; a CPD recording template; a list of CPD opportunities that you can consider; the OR Society code of conduct and associated disciplinary code; some FAQs; and who to speak to if you want to know more. What now? We have long been keen to introduce a wider variety of qualification opportunities for those members who want or need them, and it is satisfying now to be able to offer CSci. We are hoping that early next year we will also be able to offer the Certified Analytics Professional award, which will sit alongside our current accreditation system and CSci as an exam-based, analytics-oriented option.  More details of all options are on the website. We will be very interested to see the response and to get your feedback. ¹

Friday, 3 Feb 2017
Gavin Blackett


K. BRIAN HALEY 1933-2016 (OR Society President, 1982-83)

By Graham Rand, Lancaster University

The death of Brian Haley on Christmas Day at the age of 83, soon after a diagnosis of liver cancer, brought to an end over 60 years of substantial involvement and dedicated service to the OR Society and to the worldwide O.R. community.  His involvement with the OR Society dates from 1954 when he became an Associate Member. In 1959 he founded, with Neil Jessop, the Midlands OR Society.  He was the first UK contributing editor to International Abstracts in Operations Research, Editor of the Journal of the Operational Research Society from 1971-1980 and President of the Society in 1982-1983, as well as being on Council and many committees.  Following his retirement from academic life, Brian continued to be involved in the Society’s affairs, most notably as Chair of the Publications Committee, a position he held for a period of 11 years. During his time as Chair, the journals in the Society’s portfolio flourished, and Brian oversaw the development of a variety of initiatives, including the birth of the Journal of Simulation.  Not surprisingly, the Society bestowed honours on him, first with the Companionship of Operational Research in 1996, and, in 2010, the Beale Medal. Only three other Presidents have received both these honours.  In recent years he regularly attended the Blackett lecture, and was very disappointed on the few such occasions he missed.

Brian was born on 17th November 1933 in Smethwick, near Birmingham where he spent nearly all his life.  He attended King Edward’s School, Five Ways, before starting at the University of Birmingham in 1950 to study mathematics.  On graduating in 1953, he became a research assistant in the University’s Department of Engineering Production, obtaining his doctorate in 1956, for a thesis on industrial applications of linear programming.  His subsequent work always involved O.R. applied to a wide variety of real problems.  As Brian's period as research assistant came towards a close in 1957 he was faced with the prospect of National Service. In a profile of Brian in the OR Society Newsletter in February 1981, John Hough reported the decision problem he faced: a choice between fighting the Mau Mau in Kenya or EOKA in Cyprus as an officer, or operating a calculating machine in Byfleet as a Sergeant (Clerical).  However, a third option emerged - the National Coal Board O.R. Group (called FIG – Field Investigation Group) not only offered an outlet for his O.R. ambitions but it was also one of the very few acceptable alternatives to the Army.  Not surprisingly he opted for FIG. In 1958 Birmingham University had established the UK's first MSc Course in O.R. in the Department of Engineering Production and it was this, in 1959, which attracted Brian back to his home city to become the UK's first designated lecturer in operational research.  In 1968, he became Professor of Operational Research, retiring in 1999.

At the first international conference held in Oxford, UK, in September 1957, his paper, jointly authored with John Stringer, on the application of linear programming to a large-scale transportation problem, followed one from George Dantzig.  Exalted company indeed!   This conference led to the creation of the International Federation of Operational Research Societies (IFORS) on 1st January 1959.   Later, Brian edited the proceedings of two IFORS’ conferences, held in Tokyo and Kyoto, Japan (1975) and Toronto, Canada (1978).  He then became successively Vice-President (1983-85), Chairman of the Publications Committee and, from 1992-1994, President.  Brian took pride in having attended the first 14 IFORS conferences, usually accompanied by his wife Diana. At the fifteenth conference, held in Beijing, China (1999) Brian was unable to travel at the last minute through illness.  Brian did attend further IFORS conferences, with Diana, as was the case in 2008, when the conference was in South Africa.  Diana died in March last year and, no longer having to worry about caring for her, Brian had intended to attend the IFORS conference this year in Quebec, accompanied by his son, but sadly that plan was not able to be realised.   

He met Diana at Birmingham University, where she was a secretary and typed work for him.  They were married at St Germain’s Church, Birmingham on 2nd April 1960.   They had one son, Alan, and two granddaughters, Frances and Emma.   Brian was a keen sportsman, playing rugby, as a prop, at school and for Five Ways Old Boys 1st XV.  He sailed for 10 years at Barnt Green reservoir, played squash and badminton, and latterly archery and a game called pickleball!  He followed cricket closely, though he wouldn't buy Sky on principle, and supported Worcestershire, whilst Diana supported Warwickshire.   He was very involved in church life.  As treasurer of his local Church, he was able to exercise his O.R. talents. A time series analysis of weekly collections was developed to decide the optimum timing of special appeals for donations. For a time he was a deacon at Carters Lane Baptist Church and occasional lay preacher.  Another major activity for nearly 40 years was as a governor of Bromsgrove School, for whom he created an L.P. model to evaluate alternative fee-structures.

in his February 1981 profile, written when Brian ceased being Journal editor, John Hough said “Whilst we may be saddened at his departure from Editorship of the Journal we can certainly anticipate years of future service from him in one of the few ORS roles which he has yet to play, that of President-elect, and subsequently, President of the O.R. Society”.   As can be seen, John’s expectation was more than fulfilled.



Tuesday, 24 Jan 2017
Jeffrey Jones

This edition, Volume 67, Issue 12, December 2016 is now available on this website, and is being distributed by post to those who requested that.

In this issue there are 9 articles, all very interesting. Members may particularly be interested in the update to the Duckworth-Lewis method for adjusting scores and targets in one-day cricket. This method, designed by our member Tony Lewis (with statistician Frank Duckworth), is used on all professional cricket grounds around the world.

The 9 papers are:

A mega-trend-diffusion grey forecasting model for short-term manufacturing demand - Che-Jung Chang, Liping Yu, Peng Jin

Determining common weights in data envelopment analysis based on the satisfaction degree - Jie Wu, Junfei Chu, Qingyuan Zhu, Yongjun Li

Analysing the use of cognitive maps in an experiment on a group decision process - Annielli A R Cunha, Danielle C Morais

The Duckworth-Lewis-Stern method: extending the Duckworth-Lewis methodology to deal with modern scoring rates - Steven E Stern

Guiding interventions in a multi-organisational context: combining the Viable System Model and Hierarchical Process Modelling for use as a Problem Structuring Method - David Lowe, Louise Martingale
Hierarchical game joint optimization for product family-driven modular design - Shuang Ma, Gang Du, Jianxin (Roger) Jiao

DEA with non-monotonic variables. Application to EU governments’ macroeconomic efficiency - Gabriel Villa, Sebastián Lozano

Minimizing maximum cost on a single machine with two competing agents and job rejection - Baruch Mor, Gur Mosheiov


Monday, 19 Dec 2016
Rob Chidley

by Gavin Blackett, OR Society Secretary and General Manager

It is 80 years since Alan Turing first raised the concept of a universal machine and 66 years since he described the ‘imitation game’ in which a person has to decide whether written answers to questions were generated by a human or a machine. In 2015, the Alan Turing Institute (ATI) was formed as a partnership of the Engineering & Physical Sciences Research Council (EPRSC) and five universities (Cambridge, Edinburgh, Oxford, UCL and Warwick) to ‘make great leaps in data science research in order to change the world for the better’ (their mission statement). The Institute has over 150 researchers and has formed strategic partnerships with Lloyd’s Register, GCHQ, Intel and HSBC.

ATI’s director, Professor Andrew Blake, gave the 2016 Blackett Memorial Lecture at the Central Methodist Hall in Westminster, just a stone’s throw from its base in the British Library. His thought-provoking title was ‘Machines that learn: big data or explanatory models?’.

The main thrust of his talk was the common conflict, or decision faced by modellers (depending on the circumstances, obviously) – whether to use an empirical classifier or some form of generative model (which Andrew also referred to as analysis by synthesis). Andrew used examples, including painful ones from his own background, to illustrate the struggle between the two approaches. The first examples included the Netflix challenge and face recognition software. In 2006, Netflix offered a prize of $1m to help design an algorithm for to make film recommendations to its users (if you enjoyed Groundhog Day, you’ll love …). In the case of face recognition software, the efficient, black-box approach, learning from masses of examples won out, and as we all know, for a number of years even the humblest of digital cameras has been making use of this to identify faces to help the camera user frame their shot.

Andrew gave us a live demonstration of the next success – image recognition. Even in the Microsoft Office suite there’s software which can pull out a particular item from a complex image, and insert it into (for example) a Word document. Andrew told us the strengths and weaknesses of both approaches needed to be considered, a lesson he’d learnt in his time with Microsoft working on the Kinect 3D Camera project. Andrew had nailed his colours to the generative model mast, but the modelling was proving difficult. Fortunately, a young tenacious researcher demonstrated that the black box approach could work, and the outcome is now sitting on top of TVs in many of your living rooms. Andrew also explained that there are gains to be made by combining both modes. 

The field is changing fast, and Andrew highlighted the magnitude of improvements over recent years. It’s not only the technology that’s changing, though. Data protection, ethical approaches and legal issues are also having an impact. The impenetrable nature of the empirical classifier (black box) approach can be problematic with an increasing need to be able to demonstrate the variables and data key to a model’s output. In some cases, generative models are being used to try to explain how the classifier models are obtaining their predictions.

Finally, Andrew gave us a brief glimpse into research into how to improve learning. The typical classifier models need many, many cases to learn from, and once they’ve learned the first thing, the same number of examples are needed for the second. Small children demonstrate a much more efficient way of learning. If they’ve had quite a few examples to learn how to identify a car, very few additional examples are required to allow them to identify lorries. Andrew’s talk was certainly entertaining, even if it might not have been what one or two were expecting from the presumably deliberately vague title. It could only ever be a flavour of the type of research work being done through the ATI. The concept of considering the modelling pluses and minuses of different approaches is definitely not a new one to the O.R. world but it was fascinating to see Andrew’s take on this.


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