2017 October Inside OR

In this edition, Louise Maynard-Atem looks at the use of OR in extreme weather forecasting; Inside OR's editor John Crocker tackles at GDPR; we explore how data can be used to dismantle human trafficking supply chains; and we update you on the latest on the Certified Analytics Professional accreditation.

Inside this issue


Making X and Y Miraculously Appear


This is to be my last leader article as I step down from my role as Chair of Events committee and thus the Society’s Board at the end of this calendar year.  I have been in post for two terms of three years each and the society’s rules state that after such a period you have to step down for a while.

During my time on the committee, it’s been great to see a number of event/training innovative seedlings be planted and come to fruition – the Beale Lecture, the MAI (making an impact) day, the Debate, and the Grand Challenges event all at our annual conference, as well as developments to the training programme. However, my role in such innovations is quite minimal – I’ve simply been the custodian of a committee much of whose work comes under the banner of ‘Business As Usual’ in the Board’s strategy document. I say custodian since most of the real work of event/training organisation is actually done by others – a large part of the credit for the success of our events & training programmes is down to Hilary and Jennie from the society’s office who lead on the admin and make sure that things actually happen and on time. However, they can’t do their work without a team of tutors to contribute to the training programme and a host of volunteers to contribute to the organisation of conference & events for example by joining the planning committee or organising a stream of papers. I remember a number of years ago being involved in some visioning work for the society and hearing the phrase: the society should do X or it should do Y, as if expecting someone in the society’s offices to make X and Y miraculously appear. Those who have been involved in any way with the society know that this isn’t how it works; the society is hugely reliant on its volunteers, and this is particularly true with its conferences and events.

I sat down to think about this article as I was attending the conference of another professional society – the British Academy of Management. As I perused the programme and talked to delegates I was reminded how unique our Society and its conference are with the luxury of engagement, participation and thus volunteering from a good balance of academics and practitioners. I was pleased to be looking forward to our annual conference taking place the following week; OR59, hosted by Loughborough University and the OR group within the Business School. The three day programme consisted of some 200 papers from 24 streams, three invited plenary speakers, a plenary debate on the topic of ‘Data belongs to the human race’ and four president medal finalist talks.

By the time you read this leader, it will be too late to encourage you to become involved in the society’s events, but I can point you to our future calendar and encourage you to volunteer your time by attending, speaking at or organising some of our events. Next up in the 2017 calendar is the Blackett Memorial lecture in November with Professor Sir Nigel Shadbolt, Professor of Computer Science at Oxford University and Principal of Jesus College, Oxford delivering his talk entitled: Towards a science of the web. This event will be held at the IET London, in Savoy Place. 

Moving into our jubilee year, we have a rolling calendar of events. Our first event of the year is the Beale Lecture with Professor Richard Ormerod, winner of the 2017 Beale Medal who will deliver his talk at the Royal Society entitled: The fitness and survival of the OR profession in the age of artificial intelligence.  Our conferences for the jubilee year include SW18 and OR60… at this stage of the calendar, the committees are being formed.

Front cover of Inside OR magazine October 2017

2017 October Inside OR

Predicting the storm; Mathematical biology; Data vs human trafficking; Internet of thieves; GDPR is coming.

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