2019 April Inside OR

This month, John Hopes gives important headlines for where the society is going and how it plans to get there; Nigel Cummings reminds us of Bill Gates’ startlingly accurate predictions – and those yet to be realised; and Professor Mike C Jackson overturns pessimistic appraisals of the state of OR at the recent Beale Lecture, in his lecture The future of OR is present.

Leader: 2019 business plan and budget

It is that time of year when our business plan and budget for 2019 have been finalised and our annual report for 2018 is being fine-tuned. This prompts thoughts of the interrelationship between finance and strategy and the steps we need to take to maintain The OR Society’s financial strength. The OR Society has, for many years, been in the enviable position of ...

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Beale 2019 - Mike C Jackson OBE “The future of OR is present”

This year’s Beale lecture was given by Beale medal winner 2017 Prof Mike C Jackson OBE, Emeritus Professor at the University of Hull. The title of his lecture was The future of OR is present.

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The What, Who, Why, When and How do I sign up? for an exciting new PSM course

Problem structuring methods (PSM) provide a series of practical approaches, using the principal soft OR methods, which can tackle the more strategic problems of organisations. There are three well-established soft-OR methods: Soft Systems Methodology (SSM), the Strategic Choice Approach (SCA), and Strategic Options Development and Analysis (SODA/Journey-Making). Each incorporates problem structuring as an important element of the method and this course will...

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Home insurance revolutionised by AI tech

The home insurance industry is worth hundreds of billions of pounds worldwide, but there is always room for improvement. One such improvement may well come from the application of geospatial imagery, computer vision and machine learning technologies to provide geospatial structured data and aerial imagery for insurance and property underwriting. The use of such technologies has been demonstrated by, for example, Cape Analytics. Over the past five years it has built a database of 70 million single-family homes across the USA. Realising the value of continually collecting this data and growing business, the company recently decided to ...

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Business at the Speed of Thought

Twenty years ago, Microsoft’s Bill Gates wrote a book called Business @ the Speed of Thought. It was a book in which the founder of Microsoft said that companies had a sizeable investment in technology but were only realising about 20% of its potential benefit. He thought it was time for change. Writing the book introduced the concept of the digital nervous system which, according to Gates, would unite all systems and processes under one common infrastructure...

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Beale Lecture 2019: Doctoral Award winner 2016

The 2019 Annual Beale Lecture, in memory of Martin Beale, was this year held at the Royal Society in London on 21 February 2019. As usual, the event comprises two parts: a presentation given by a recent Doctoral Award winner followed by a longer talk given by a recent Beale Medal winner. This year the Doctoral Award talk was given by 2016 winner – Dr Itamar Megiddo, a Chancellor’s Fellow, lecturer (assistant professor) at the Department of Management Science at the University of Strathclyde. The title of his talk was Agent-based modelling for healthcare policy decisions in low and middle-income countries: analyses using data from India.

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OR and the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund: report from a workshop

The Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF) is one of the pillars of the government’s Industrial Strategy. Worth £4.7bn over four years, it is intended to bring together industry and research to benefit society and the economy. This is surely an initiative where OR should be playing a key role but, so far, OR and the mathematical sciences generally have not been particularly visible.

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When should we start teaching OR?

Marks and Spencer are spending the money they’ve put aside from the new Apprenticeship Levy, in part, on putting some employees through the Data Analyst Apprenticeship where after 18 months they’ll have a qualification to show their skills in the area. Given that OR practitioners come into the field from such a wide variety of backgrounds (something I’ve explored in this column before), when could/should we start teaching OR as a defined, scoped out range of skills and techniques, and is there a way to put more of a stamp on an OR education?

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Obituary: Conway Berners-Lee

We are sad to report that mathematician and computer scientist Conway Berners-Lee died 1 February 2019. He will be remembered as a member of the team that developed the Ferranti Mark 1, the world’s first commercial stored program electronic computer, a prominent OR man, statistician, developer of computer applications and, as the father of Sir Tim Berners-Lee, linked to the invention of the World Wide Web.

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