INFORMS in the News

Stolen Data Worth Less Over Time

A new model examining cyber crimes adds an important way of examining the perishable value of stolen data so policy makers can plan against future hacks like the recent Anthem data breach, according to a study in the Articles in Advance section of Service Science, a journal published by the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS).

INFORMS is a leading professional association for professionals in advanced analytics.

"A Multiproduct Network Economic Model of Cybercrime in Financial Services" is by Anna Nagurney, the John F. Smith Memorial Professor of Operations Management at the Isenberg School of Management at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Nagurney is an INFORMS Fellow. It describes a computer-based model that captures the network economics of cybercrime activity and permits the policy evaluation of interventions.

A novel feature of the model is its inclusion of the critical time element and perishability of stolen cyber financial products with, as in the case of fresh produce, the value (and, hence, the black market price) decreasing over time. It also identifies different demand prices for different financial products, with certain credit cards being more valuable because of credit limit, expiration date, and continent of origin.

Forensic, March 11, 2013

Game Theory and Iran's Nuclear Intentions

What’s the best way to manage a secret project—one whose stakes, whether diplomatic or business, are very high? And what do your actions tell your opponents about your true intentions?

Those are questions that my colleagues and I asked two years ago in our paper “Managing a Secret Project,” which appeared in the journal Operations Research, published by the association INFORMS. They come up again now as Secretary of State John Kerry negotiates with Iran over its nuclear program and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reiterates the opposition to these talks that he sounded during a joint session of Congress.

Edieal Pinker, Yale Insights, March 2015

Negative effects of work stress highlighted in upcoming Management Science study

We’re working ourselves to death—literally—and spending billions of dollars staving off poor health in the meantime.

In a working study submitted to Management Science, researchers from Harvard and Stanford—Joel Goh, Jeffrey Pfeffer, and Stefanos Zenios—looked at 10 common workplace conflict areas, from work-life balance and shift work to unemployment and lack of health coverage. A common theme: The biggest things that cause stress are also the ones that heap on the most health care costs.

The biggest are lack of insurance, a demanding job, and work-family conflict.

Fast Company, March 4, 2015

Point/Counterpoint on Big Data: INFORMS VP in CNN Online

In his CNN opinion piece, "The Big Dangers of Big Data" , Konstantin Kakaes of New America raises some interesting points about the ways that designing certain types of Big Data projects could lead to bad societal results.

Unfortunately, Mr. Kakaes' column appears to be part of a larger narrative that is skewing the perception of the importance of advanced data analytics to economies, societies and families around the world.

Big Data is not merely the accumulation of vast amounts of information, but a collection of interconnected and interrelated data points that, when analyzed carefully, helps business leaders make decisions that lead to increased profitability and job creation, assists doctors and scientists in understanding critical factors about health care, helps policymakers better protect the public from potential terror attacks, and much more.

Marco Lübbecke, CNN Online, Feb. 12, 2015

Freakonomics: When Will Power Isn't Enough

One of the most compelling talks I saw at this year’s American Economics Association conference was by Katherine Milkman, an assistant professor at the Wharton School at Penn. She holds a joint Ph.D. in computer science and business, but her passion is behavioral economics — and, specifically, how its findings can be applied to help people in their daily lives. Milkman and her research are the focus of our latest Freakonomics Radio episode, “When Willpower Isn’t Enough.” …

In the podcast, we talk primarily about two of Milkman’s ideas:

1. “Temptation bundling”: the idea of tying together two activities — one you should do but may avoid; and one you love to do but isn’t necessarily productive. Or, as Milkman describes it in a research paper (co-authored with Julia Minson and Kevin Volpp), “a method for simultaneously tackling two types of self-control problems by harnessing consumption complementarities. The paper is called “Holding The Hunger Games Hostage at the Gym: An Evaluation of Temptation Bundling.” [INFORMS PDF from Management Science is here.) Among the examples Milkman gives in the podcast: “So what if you only let yourself get a pedicure while catching up on overdue emails for work? Or what if you only let yourself listen to your favorite CDs while catching up on household chores. Or only let yourself go to your very favorite restaurant whose hamburgers you crave while spending time with a difficult relative who you should see more of.”

2. The “fresh start effect”: here’s how Milkman and co-authors Hengchen Dai and Jason Riis explain it in “The Fresh Start Effect: Temporal Landmarks Motivate Aspirational Behavior” [INFORMS PDF from Management Science is here.]

Freakonomics Radio, March 13, 2015

5 Job Related Stressors More Likely to Kill You than Second Hand Smoke: ManSci Study

Job-related stress can be even more deadly than secondhand smoke exposure.

That's according to a study being published next week in the scholarly journal Management Science. Work-related stress, the study finds, is partly to blame for up to $190 billion in health care costs. Specific workplace stressors contribute to 120,000 deaths in the U.S. each year -- more than the number of deaths from diabetes, Alzheimer’s or influenza.

Huffington Post, March 4, 2015

Organization Science on the Oscar Curse

Sure, it's the most prestigious award that Hollywood has to offer, but that coveted Oscar statue might also be a bad omen for some of the actors who receive it, a new study suggests.

Male Oscar winners are three times as likely as other actors to get a divorce during their first year of marriage, the study found. And the news is nearly as bad for the runners-up. Male actors nominated for an Academy Award are twice as likely as non-nominated actors to later wind up getting a divorce from their spouses within the first year of marriage, according to the study.

"We always think about status and moving up as something good, but we also observed all the misery that comes with certain dramatic increases in status," Michael Jensen, a strategy professor at the University of Michigan's Ross School of Business and the study's lead author, told Live Science…
The study was published online in the January edition of the [INFORMS] journal Organization Science.

Huffington Post, Feb. 22, 2015

UPS's Orion is Lavish O.R.-based Deployment

UPS won’t say how much money it has invested in Orion. But management and information technology expert Thomas H. Davenport, a distinguished professor at Babson College near Boston, believes Orion is the largest deployment of operations research, and that UPS spent $200 million to $300 million to develop it, excluding many years of investments in underlying driver technology and communications infrastructure.

Wall Street Journal, Feb. 16 2015

Marketing Science: Tension between sales and market managers

It all starts with the sales rep. He or she is on the front line of the battle for corporate revenue. They also are the first and sometimes last contact point a customer has with the company. So who better than to turn to about advice on said customers, correct, than the sales rep? For that reason, when the sales rep urge headquarters to come down a notch on pricing, their opinion should seriously be considered, right?

Maybe, according to academic research on the subject—but first have the sales reps strenuously argue the case as to why a price should be lowered.

So found a study that ran in the November issue of Marketing Science, a publication of the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS).

The study, called "Why do sales people spend so much time lobbying for low prices?" was conducted by Duncan Simester, the Nanyang Technological University Professor of Management Science, and Juanjuan Zhang, Associate Professor of Marketing, both at the MIT Sloan School of Management.

Computer World, Feb. 27, 2015

The Economics of Counter-Terror, by INFORMS Pres. Elect Ed Kaplan

How many good guys are needed to catch the bad guys? This is the staffing question faced by counterterrorism agencies the world over. While government officials are quick to proclaim “zero tolerance” for terrorism, unlimited resources are not made available to prevent terror attacks, nor should that be the case. Indeed, as with most public policy decisions, the appropriate staffing level depends upon both the benefits and costs of fielding counterterrorism agents.


How to operationalize the concepts described above is another matter, for unlike many production processes, it is not easy to observe the relationship between counterterror agent staffing on the one hand, and terror plot detection on the other. However, progress in this area has been made thanks to methods borrowed from queueing theory, which is applied widely to study staffing problems in situations ranging from telephone call centers to hospitals to manufacturing facilities to air traffic control.

Edward H. Kaplan, Oxford University Press, Jan. 20, 2015

Looking for Big Pay, Less Stress? OR!

Operations research analyst is another high-growth job in the business sector. These data miners can be involved in everything from logistics to manufacturing, looking to enhance a company's profitability and cost efficiency. In 2013, the typical salary was pushing $75,000 annually, but analysts in New York, San Jose and San Diego often earn more than $130,000., Jan. 16, 2015

Doing Good with Good OR - The CitiBike Example

David Shmoys (left, in beard) with Eoin O’Mahony (in sweater)

Citi Bike deploys 6,000 bikes throughout the city that are often taken on more than 10 trips each day. In the morning, commuters pick up a bike near home and drop it off near their job. Near home, supplies dwindle, while midtown stations fill up, sometimes leaving few places to dock. During the day, similar imbalances occur across town. The solution is to “rebalance,” using trucks to move bikes from crowded locations to empty ones. Managing the process “is a good part of my day-to-day,” said Michael Pellegrino, director of operations for NYC Bike Share LLC, the operators of Citi Bike.

David Shmoys [above, left], the Laibe/Acheson Professor and Director of the School of Operations Research and Information Engineering, and graduate student Eoin O’Mahony [above, in grey sweater] have developed algorithms and data analysis tools to help rebalance the Citi Bike system as efficiently as possible.

O’Mahony described the system at the 2014 INFORMS Annual Meeting, “Bridging Data and Decisions,” in November in San Francisco. He earned first place and a $1,000 cash prize in the Doing Good with Good OR student competition with his paper, “Smarter Tools for (Citi)Bike Sharing.”

Cornell Chronicle, Jan. 12, 2015

Air Asia Tragedy and Air Safety - Arnie Barnett Weighs In

What role, if any, the failings of Indonesia’s aviation system may have played in the crash of Flight 8501 may not be known for weeks. But in a country of 17,000 islands, where cheap flights are replacing the ferry journeys that Indonesians used to take across the archipelago, the chances of dying on an Indonesian plane, while rare, are unacceptably high, experts say.

Arnold Barnett, a [operations researcher] at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who specializes in airline safety, said that the death rate in airplane crashes over the past decade in Indonesia was one per million passengers who boarded. That rate is 25 times the rate in the United States.

New York Times, Jan. 1, 2015

What will influence marketing in 2015?

V. Kumar, Executive Director of the Center for Excellence in Brand & Customer Management, Georgia State University and Head, Marketing Science to Marketing Practice Initiative, INFORMS Society for Marketing Science
I foresee the marketing function transforming into a more crucial role within the organization by becoming an integral part of the organizational decision-making framework. In other words, a tight-knit integration of marketing activities with the other business functions can be expected. This will create unique opportunities for marketers wherein marketing campaigns and strategies will now have to consider the interface of other business functions, and not just the marketing function. Further, interdependencies with other factors such as accountability, investment decisions, technology needs, and operational guidance will come to the fore as companies will begin to realize the power of marketing and its data-oriented analytical capabilities.

DM News, Dec. 30, 2014

Universities Increasing Programs for Data Scientists

Capital Markets Outlook 2015: Investment in big data continues to increase, but it all means squat if there's no talent to program the tools, analyze the results, and create business value. Universities are responding by creating programs to train a generation of data scientists in technical and business capabilities.

Information Week, Dec. 29, 2014

5 Things CIOs Should Know About Prescriptive Analytics

What's the followup to predictive analytics?  It's prescriptive analytics, which actually tells you the best action to take. Here are five things you need to know it.
First there was descriptive analytics, using data to describe current or past circumstances. Then came predictive analytics, analyzing data to predict a future outcome. Prescriptive analytics suggests the best option for handling that future scenario.

"Prescriptive tells you the best way to get to where you want to be," says Anne Robinson, director of supply chain analytics at Verizon Wireless and a past president of INFORMS, a society for analytics and operations research professionals. "If you want to differentiate yourself, the next step is the prescriptive tool box."

CIO, December 26, 2014

Four Ways to Grow Analytics Intelligently in the Year Ahead

L. Robin Keller

As analytics continues to capture the attention of the business world, we contemplate a distinct field that uses newly available data to make better decisions. In the coming year, we must pay attention to our university analytics degrees, our continuing education, certifying competent practitioners, and organization-wide evaluations to make sure that our field grows and we bring greater benefit to those who seek our insights.

With McKinsey’s now famous forecast of a shortage in analytics professionals ringing in the ears of CIOs and executives, my fellow academics and business leaders must plan now to make sure that the supply of trained professionals remains high and that those who currently use analytics stay up to date in a fast-changing world.

Four types of preparation are necessary...

INFORMS President-Elect L. Robin Keller,, November 11, 2014

Predictive Analytics: Harnessing Insights from Text and Network Data

The predictive analytics landscape covers a wide variety of techniques and methods designed to derive insights from data. These techniques, which include statistical modeling methods, classification rules, forecasting techniques, simulation models, machine learning tools, and so on, have been used successfully for many years on structured data (data that consists of numeric or categorical attributes, where the number of categories is limited). In recent times, the volume and variety of data available for analysis has exploded, and most of this data is in non-traditional forms, which the traditional techniques were not designed to handle.

This article describes how you can transform non-traditional data, such as unstructured data (text) or semi-structured data (networks), into a structured form that you can then use to augment traditional data. Combining both types of data provides greater opportunities for actionable insight...

Radhika Kulkarni, Ph.D. is SAS Vice President for Advanced Analytics R&D, and a 2014 INFORMS Fellow. She may be reached at

Radhika Kulkarni, Scientific Computing, Nov. 14, 2014

Survey shows most organizations don't have plan in place to assess their analytics maturity

According to a new INFORMS survey of 230 business, government and academic representatives released today, the concept of "analytics maturity" is important or very important to their businesses (65 percent). Yet, 82 percent of those same respondents admitted they do not have a plan, model, or any other mechanism in place for measuring the efficacy or maturity of their analytics best practices over time.

Some 47 percent of those surveyed attributed the lack of analytics maturity modeling to the fact they don't believe it will help their businesses thrive, while 21 percent said they cannot afford an analytics maturity model solution.

"The ability to fully assess the maturity level of an organization's analytics best practices is paramount to their efficacy," said Aaron Burciaga, senior manager, operations analytics at Accenture. "With more access to information than ever before, organizations must have a strategy in place for how they leverage data and analytics, and assess the maturity of their programs to empower decision making and drive organizational strategy.", Nov. 11, 2014

A Private Jet to Your Kidney Transplant with some O.R. help

The supply and demand imbalance between organs and the people who need them means that wait lists in New York or San Francisco might be twice that of, say, Kansas or Tennessee. The problem was brought to public attention in recent years by Steve Jobs, who used his resources to travel across the country for a liver transplant. For decades, doctors and policymakers have debated how to move organs or change allocation maps in an effort to eliminate these disparities.

Now, Tayur proposes to turn the problem on its head. OrganJet, his brainchild, is a company that uses an online app to help patients find out where in the country they could go to get a liver or kidney the fastest, and then promises a private jet to fly them there at a few hours’ notice when the organ becomes available.

It might all sound a bit crazy. At 49, Tayur doesn’t have any training in healthcare or in the field of medical ethics. He is a Carnegie Mellon University-chaired professor of operations management with a Ph.D. in operations research, a field that uses mathematical modeling to solve business problems.

Atlantic, Oct. 29, 2014


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