Analytics students offer numerical solutions to societal problems in INFORMS Student Competition

“Doing Good with Good OR” tackles crime, Ebola, blood donation, medical challenges

CATONSVILLE, MD, July 23, 2015 – The Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS®), the leading international association for professionals in analytics and operations research, today announced the finalists in its student math competition that sets contestants to finding solutions to major societal and humanitarian problems.

The INFORMS Doing Good with Good OR Student Paper Competition is held each year to honor outstanding projects by students in operations research and the management sciences that have a significant societal impact.

This year’s winners will be announced at the 2015 INFORMS Annual Meeting, which will take place in Philadelphia from November 1-4.

The finalists’ projects are:

  • Improving Crime Fighting with Data Mining: Tong Wang, MIT. “Finding Patterns with a Rotten Core: Data Mining for Crime Series Detection.” The contestant worked with the Cambridge, MA Police Department to build a model that can automatically detect crime series, which analysts now spend hours a day doing manually. NYPD is currently working with the team’s computer code, incorporating it into a custom software package for daily use. Note previous coverage, including story in Wired.
  • Finding Better Meds for Diabetics: Yuanhui Zhang, North Carolina State University. “Using Operations Research to Improve the Health of Patients with Type 2 Diabetes.” The contestant developed models to evaluate policy and examine clinical regimens involving glycemic control for patients with type 2 diabetes. The sophisticated math methods helped determine whether new medications are more effective than standard regimens.  Note previous coverage, including story in
  • Motivating Blood Donation: Tianshu Sun, University of Maryland. “The Optimal Policy Design to Motivate Blood Donation: Evidence from a Randomized Field Experiment and a Structural Model.” Using a randomized field experiment involving 80,000 participants, the participant tested the effect of different policies in driving donations and found that blood banks can use rewards to motivate group formations that increase donation. Group rewards are four times more cost effective than individual rewards.
  • Improving Blood Collection: Chenxi Zeng, Georgia Institute of Technology. “Improving Blood Collection Policies for Cryoprecipitate. The blood product cryoprecipitate (“cryo”) must satisfy an 8-hour collection-to-product completion constraint, which requires extra transport expense for the American Red Cross. The contestant educed extra transport cost by 70%.
  • Finding the Right Location for Ebola Treatment: Kimberly Adelaar, Charmaine Chan, Matt Daniels, Javeria Javeria, Caleb Mbuvi, Chu Qian, Ivan Renaldi, Jonathan Sutomo, Georgia Institute of Technology. “Ebola Treatment Facility Location Planning in Guinea (Analysis for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).” In the recent Ebola outbreak, treatment facilities were critical but beds were unavailable in some areas while unused in others.  Results showed units set up quickly or in advance could have saved more than 2,000 lives.
  • Reducing Wait at Infusion Centers:  Sung Keun Baek, Xiaoyang Li, Allen Liu, James Micali, Jisu Park, Mengnan Shen, Yunjie Sun, Emilie Wurmser, Georgia Institute of Technology. “Infusion Center Process Improvement and Patient Wait Time Reduction.” The team combined patient interviews, math modeling, and data analytics to reduce patient waits by 28% and improve patient satisfaction by 8.5%.

In a related program, INFORMS’ new Pro Bono Analytics initiative matches association members with non-profits in underserved and underdeveloped countries.


INFORMS is the leading international association for professionals in analytics and operations research (O.R.). INFORMS advances research, and develops and promotes best practices in analytics and O.R. through collaboration, knowledge sharing, and professional development. INFORMS helps business, government, and other organization professionals make better decisions to drive value to their organizations and society. Our certification program (CAP®), highly cited publications, educational meetings and conferences, continuing education, industry and process-focused networking communities, competitions, and recognition provide professionals with the knowledge and connections they need to achieve ever greater value for their organizations. Further information about INFORMS, analytics, and operations research is at or @informs.


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