Blackett Lecture 2020

What happened at this year's event?

The Blackett Lecture 2020 was attended online by more than 200 OR and analytics professionals - thank you to everyone who took part.

At this year’s event, we awarded nine winning medals to 21 industry frontrunners. Click the link to find out more about the Blackett Medal recipients. 

Read more about our 2020 winners

Find out more about our plenary talk by Chris Skidmore below.

Chris Skidmore, MP for Kingswood and Former UK Science, Research and Innovation Minister, delivered this year's talk

He spoke about what OR really means in the 21st Century, including but not limited to how OR is used to shape public behaviour and predictions for what the future of OR looks like.

Skidmore restated the importance of operational research for the future and discussed how that importance can be truly realised. He reflected on his time as the UK’s Science, Research and Innovation Minister between 2018 and 2020, and spoke about current uncertainty and its impact on OR.

He also explored the target of the UK's future international identity as a ‘global science superpower’ and what needs to be done to achieve this - namely considerable investment in not only our research infrastructure, but in the skills needed to conduct research in the future.

"Investment in R&D is to invest in one's future" are the words of Skidmore, and we couldn't agree more.

Download Speech here

Rt Hon Chris Skidmore MP Speech.jpg

See you next year!

Thank you to everyone who attended this year's event. 

If you didn't enter the 2020 awards, why not do so next year? Find out more about the awards available, eligibility and how to apply.

Tell me more 

Next year it could be you! 

What is the Blackett Lecture?

Our annual lecture provides a forum for leading industry figures to bring to your attention current affairs in the areas of analytics, data science and artificial intelligence.

The lecture is named in memory of Patrick Blackett, a physicist, Nobel Prize winner and one-time president of the Royal Society. Blackett was one of the pioneers of operational research (OR) during the Second World War, when he advocated the employment of scientists to advise on matters of strategy and tactics.

Find out more about Patrick Blackett in our animated video.

Previous Blackett Memorial Lectures

Blackett 2019: From high performance teams to a high performance economy; lessons from winning Olympic gold for building a better world

Professor Philip Bond discussed if a society is to deliver high standards of living it first needs to deliver high levels of innovation, productivity and performance.

View Prof Phillip Bond's 2019 Lecture

Blackett 2018: OR in the age of AI

Sir Alan Wilson FRS FAcSS FBA

Sir Alan discusses OR in a new age in four parts: the starting point; the impact of AI; OR in the age of AI; and the future.

View Sir Alan's 2018 Blackett Lecture

Blackett 2017: Towards a Science of the Web

Sir Nigel Shadbolt FREng FRS

Sir Nigel’s fascinating presentation expanded on the “growing recognition that the ecosystem that is the Web needs to be treated as an important and coherent area of study—this is web science.”

Watch Sir Nigel's full presentation

Blackett 2016: Machines that learn: big data or explanatory models?

Professor Andrew Blake

Professor Blake discussed the common conflict faced by modellers whether to use an empirical classifier or some form of generative model.

See Professor Blake's talk in full

Blackett 2015: In defence of big data

Kenneth Cukier

On the face of it, this seems a bit of a strange title for a talk to The OR Society but Kenneth Cukier, Data Editor of The Economist who presented this year’s Blackett Memorial Lecture, soon made it clear that it was actually a very appropriate title.

Watch Kenneth Cukier's Lecture

Blackett 2014: Opportunities and challenges for the NHS

Professor Sir Bruce Keogh

Blackett 2013: Communicating risk and deeper uncertainty

David Spiegelhalter FRS OBE

Blackett 2012: 2050 pathways

Professor David MacKay FRS

Blackett 2010: Financial, Ecological & Disease-Transmitting Networks & Dynamics

Robert M May, (Lord May of Oxford OM, AC, FRS) Zoology Department, University of Oxford