4,000 Numbers Crunchers Count on Austin


Ashley Smith
Public Affairs Coordinator

AUSTIN, October 28, 2010 – When 4,000 experts in everything from laws about cell phones and driving to deciding whether to punt or pass on fourth down come to Austin on November 7, the city will find itself deluged not only by smart people who use math for a living but also problem solvers who tackle America’s greatest threats.

The annual meeting of the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS®) takes place at the Austin Convention Center and the Hilton Austin from Sunday, November 7- Wednesday, October 10.

Operations research, also known as analytics and business analytics, is the application of advanced analytical methods to help make better decisions. Information about the field is at www.scienceofbetter.org. Analytics is experiencing a rebirth in organizations like IBM, BNSF, and Microsoft.

Among the highlights of the annual meeting are:

Surviving Cancer

  • A Management Expert Helps Plan Your Cancer Treatment. Management guru Steve Barrager survived a rare form of bone marrow cancer, but choosing among the treatment options made him fearful and confused. He tells how he developed the concepts of a Cancer Quarterback and a Decision Coach, and how his methods are being considered by major hospitals today. Sunday Nov. 7, 11:00 AM - 12:30 PM.


  • "Punt, Pass or Kick?" A Refined Approach to Fourth-down Decision Making. Prof. Chase Rainwater, University of Arkansas, and colleagues do the math as only an operations researcher can. They examine the critical decision of whether to attempt a field goal, punt or go-for-it on a fourth down. The probabilities associated with the millions of possible choices are estimated using play-by-play data from all NFL games played during the 2001-2009 seasons. Sunday Nov. 7, 11 AM - 12:30 PM.


  • What is your risk of being a murder victim? Prof. Arnold Barnett of MIT says that US homicide rates have dropped to half their levels in the 1980's, suggesting that the risk of being a homicide victim has dropped, too. But patterns are not always what they seem to be. Hear the professor’s analysis of murder-risk in the 50 largest US cities and what it means for Austin. Monday Nov. 8, 11 AM - 12:30 PM.

 Cell Phone Legislation

  • Evaluating the Impact of Legislation Prohibiting Hand-held Cell Phone Use While Driving. Prof. Sheldon Jacobson, Professor, University of Illinois, and colleagues ask if legislative efforts to restrict hand-held cell phone use while driving are really helping. Tuesday Nov. 9, 4:30 - 6 PM.

 Escaping a Terrorist Attack on Texas Memorial Stadium

  • Mass Escape From Large Public Events. Douglas A. Samuelson, President and Chief Scientist, InfoLogix reviews new developments in simulation modeling that will lead to better planning and preparation for disasters at large events, such as political convention and football games. He will summarize the status of several projects under way for the U. S. Secret Service. Wednesday Nov. 10, 3:30 – 5 PM.

The chair of the INFORMS Annual Meeting in Austin is Dr. Jonathan Bard of the University of Texas Austin.


The Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS®) is an international scientific society with 10,000 members, including Nobel Prize laureates, dedicated to applying scientific methods to help improve decision-making, management, and operations. Members of INFORMS work in business, government, and academia. They are represented in fields as diverse as airlines, health care, law enforcement, the military, financial engineering, and telecommunications. INFORMS serves the scientific and professional needs of operations research analysts, experts in analytics, consultants, scientists, students, educators, and managers, as well as their institutions, by publishing a variety of journals that describe the latest research in operations research. INFORMS Online (IOL) is at www.informs.org. Further information about operations research can be found at www.scienceofbetter.org.