2019 June

This month, you’ll find: a write-up of one if the hot topics discussed at this year’s New to OR conference, The Digital Transformation of OR; a juxtaposition of the EU’s and Google’s activity in AI; and a discussion on applying Samurai principles to behavioural data science. Other topics include: the experience of volunteering at The Big Bang Fair;  a case study into the impact of Pro Bono OR in a charitable trust; and news of an exciting course on Problem Structuring Methods taught by two true luminaries of OR.

Leader - My kingdom for a well-defined remit!

The opportunity to write the leader article for Inside OR is not one that comes my way very often and, whilst I was happy to grab the chance, the prospect of pulling together something vaguely coherent has been a bit of challenge. I don’t have the specific focus that the chairs of our committees do, nor the well-defined remit of, say, our honorary treasurer, so I’ll be rattling through whatever comes to mind! My initial thought was to focus on the big ticket items for the society, and of course the biggest of all is the income from our portfolio of publications. Richard Eglese gave a wonderful summary of the current (academic) publishing sector in his leader last month. It left me little scope to add anything, but I will point you to a programme that aired recently on Radio 4. It summarised the...

Read More

Applying the principles of the Samurai to behavioural data science

Ganna Pogrebna, Professor of Behavioural Economics and Data Science at the University of Birmingham and Alan Turing Fellow, set out her twelve principles for behavioural data science
– based on the Hagakure – in a talk at UCAS, in Cheltenham on 20 March. Ganna started with ‘use your imagination’, which she illustrated by introducing anthropomorphic learning: a combination of concepts from deep learning and decision theory which result in smaller training data sets, faster training, better accuracy and an explainable model, rather than a black box. Work on the application of sentiment analysis to the emotional arcs of movies illustrated the second principle: think outside the box. Applying work that identified six emotional arcs in the plots of novels to the plots of movies...

Read More (login required)

The Big Bang Fair: My OR Society Volunteering Experience

The Big Bang, the UK’s Young Scientist and Engineer Fair, sells itself as a huge collaborative effort from the whole STEM community. It is an award-winning celebration of the sciences and combines exciting theatre shows, interactive workshops and exhibits and careers’ information from STEM professionals. It wasn’t just the young people who were excited about attending! I helped Evelyn and The OR Society team out on Saturday, and was not really sure what to expect. A precious weekend day for families, I wondered who might turn up! Would we have the chance to sell an exciting career in OR to pre-university students, possibly shaping their choices at a crucial time?

Read More (login required)

Using Problem Structuring Methods: finding solutions and framing analysis

"There is an old saying that a problem well put is half solved. This much is obvious. What is not so obvious, however, is how to put a problem well."  This was said by three pioneers of operational research in 1957. More than 60 years later, we have ever more extraordinary computing power, smart algorithms and bigger and bigger data and, yet, we can still end up tackling the wrong problem. Most of the important decision issues in business, in the public sector and in government can be formulated in more than one way. One of us worked with the organisers of the Notting Hill Carnival, helping them get to grips with the problems of their success. Should the priorities for change be safety (food hygiene, shared road space, criminal
opportunity); or coping with...

Read More

An unofficial History of OR in Civil Aviation / Air Traffic Management

At OR60 I attended Tony O’Connor’s presentation 50 Years of Government Operational Research (see the December 2018 edition of Inside OR for a write-up of this presentation History of Government OR – 50 Years). Tony’s presentation (and article) described historical research into the origins of OR within civil government. The presentation also acknowledged the separate origins of other OR groups in both the private sector and (the then) nationalised industries. However, to me there seemed an obvious gap in that there was no mention of any OR group that began in the civil service and then ...

Read More (login required)

Pro Bono OR: RFSA Foundation Case Study Report

The RFSA Foundation is a charity currently providing grants for students and arts outreach programmes through nine academic institutions in the Greater London area with the objective of widening access to arts education within the region. Essentially, access to the arts, design and associated professions is broadened by supporting those who might otherwise be unable to start or stay in relevant further and higher education within Greater London. Beneficiaries may be suffering disadvantage because of financial hardship, physical or mental disability or by having caring responsibilities...

Read More (login required)

Previous editions

Search the archive

Get involved

Information about this publication, publishing, printing and how to advertise.

Scope & Online Access Publishing & Printing Contributions & Advertising