Network-based interactive television, virtual reality, home-shopping and similar applications are expected to bring about a fundamental change in the way we live in the 21st century. Even when we do travel, we might expect an intelligent transportation system to provide information from a network of traffic databases. We will be surrounded by a data field (akin to the gravitational field) made possible by the convergence of technologies like televisions, computers and networks. While the growth of telecommunications over the past decade has been phenomenal, we expect that the explosion of telecommunications applications is still to come. However, without the use of advanced Operations Research (OR) methods, one can expect these networks to collapse under their own loads. For example, the transfer of vast amounts of data on the Internet has already started pushing that system to its limits. Members of the INFORMS section on telecommunications are studying models that will improve network design and performance while reducing costs of implementation.
The INFORMS Technical Section on Telecommunications provides a forum in which researchers exchange experiences and ideas for innovative network planning, operation and management. From a methodological perspective, research reported by the membership uses a variety of optimization, simulation and stochastic models.
The biggest strength of the section is its membership. We have an ideal representation from both industry and academics. Consequently, the group reflects both practical as well as theoretical interests, thus making it a vibrant OR application. As a result, the section has held nine highly successful special interest meetings. In conjunction with these meetings, the section also produces state-of-the-art proceedings. In addition, INFORMS supports at least two journals which have an area dedicated to OR applications in telecommunications. We invite individuals with similar interests to join this section and help lead the application of OR methods in telecommunications.