INTERNATIONAL O.R.: CROATIAN OPERATIONAL RESEARCH SOCIETY

Since its founding in 1992, this relatively small but active organization has made its mark with conferences, journals and more.

By Marijana Zekic-Susac and Luka Neralic

The host city of the KOI 2014, Osijek, Croatia.

Known for its beautiful Adriatic Sea and rugged coastline, Croatia also features an active Croatian Operational Research Society (CRORS), established in 1992. The 146 members (mostly university professors) of the society are preparing to organize their traditional 15th International Conference on Operational Research, which will be held in Osijek Sept. 24-26. 

A Teaching Effectiveness Colloquium (TEC), organized by James J. Cochran of Louisiana Tech University and hosted by CRORS, will be held in conjunction with the conference. The TEC will give Croatian academics and researchers the opportunity to learn about novel approaches to teaching operations research, as well as how to implement these approaches in their teaching practices. Professor Cochran will lead the TEC along with Jeffrey D. Camm and Michael J. Fry of the University of Cincinnati.

History of CRORS

Since its foundation, CRORS, headed by its first president Professor Luka Neralic of the University of Zagreb, has worked intensively to develop connections with international O.R. associations. In 1994, CRORS was accepted as the 43rd member of the International Federation of Operational Research Societies (IFORS). CRORS then automatically became a member of the Association of European Operational Research Societies (EURO), which marked an international recognition of CRORS and served as an encouragement for more activities in the future. 

In 1996, CRORS was accepted as one of publishers of the Central European Journal for Operations Research and Economics (CEJORE, later CEJOR). With the purpose of promoting and developing operations research, the main activities of CRORS are organizing its International Conference on Operational Research (KOI) and publishing the scientific journal Croatian Operational Research Review (Vol. 5 will be published in 2014). 

The conference was held every year from 1994 until 2002, when CRORS made an agreement with Slovenian Society Informatica’s Section of Operations Research to collaborate in organizing O.R. conferences and alternate in hosting the conferences. Since then, the KOI conference has been organized and held in Croatia in even numbered years and in Slovenia in odd numbered years. 

Another important event in CRORS’ history was the organization of the Sixth International Conference on Parametric Optimization and Related Topics in Dubrovnik in 1999. The efforts of CRORS members were recognized by IFORS when its IFORMS President Elise A. del Rosario handed an IFORS charter of recognition to CRORS during the 2008 IFORS Conference. CRORS also successfully organized the 21st Conference of European Chapter on Combinatorial Optimization in Dubrovnik in 2008.

CRORS Activities

Wine tasting during the evening hours at KOI 2012, Trogir, Croatia.

Although the primary CRORS activities are organizing O.R. conferences and publishing journals, its members have also given many lectuers all around the world, and the society has also hosted many internationally recognized O.R. researchers as keynote speakers at conferences or lecturers at seminars.

CRORS members actively participate in many international conferences in O.R. and related fields. Nine of its members participated in EURO/

INFORMS 2013 conference in Rome with seven research papers. Members also participated with nine research papers in 13th International Symposium on Operations Research SOR (Symposium of Operations Research), held Sept. 25-27, 2013, in Dolenjske Toplice, Slovenia. A CRORS member, Professor Dragan Jukic from University of Osijek’s Department of Mathematics, was one of the invited speakers at SOR 2013 and gave a plenary lecture titled, “On the lp-norm estimation in a quasilinear regression model.”

One of the purposes of CRORS is to ensure continuous education in the area of O.R. in Croatia at all educational levels. Many O.R.-related courses are offered for various majors at undergraduate and graduate levels by Croatian universities, but there is a lack of undergraduate and graduate O.R. majors. The University of Zagreb offers two specialist postgraduate programs, “Operational Research and Optimization” and “Statistical Methods for Economic Analysis and Forecasting,” but developing doctoral programs in O.R. is among the future objectives of CRORS. 

Meanwhile, the society is currently engaged in efforts to create a repository of O.R, courses in Croatia in order to access and standardize content that is provided to students and create a knowledge base for people who are interested in learning about O.R. and doing research in the discipline.

Concerning successful applications of O.R. in Croatia, professor Damir Kalpic and his O.R. group from the Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computing at the University of Zagreb applied results of research on a system for production planning in the factory “AD Plastik” in Solin, Croatia. On the basis of location analysis performed by professor Tihomir Hunjak of the Faculty of Organization and Informatics in Varazdin, University of Zagreb, a new brewery has been built in Koprivnica, Croatia.

CRORS members also transfer their knowledge to businesses by giving executive seminars, such as the one organized by the University of Zagreb’s School of Economics and Management in January 2013 titled “Models of Optimization and Econometric Modeling for Supply Chain Management.” CRORS member Kristina Soric gave lectures on optimization to the participants, most of whom were mathematicians working in the logistics and marketing departments of the large Croatian retail chain Konzum d.o.o. and wanted to learn to apply optimization methods in the business practice. Executive seminars are also organized in neighboring countries, such as the one in May 2013 held in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. This activity is especially important in the time of economic crisis, when knowledge can open new development possibilities.

It is also important to mention lectures given by CRORS members to high school students in order to raise their interest in quantitative methods and operational research. In January 2014 CRORS published the first issue of CRORS News, a magazine aimed to popularize O.R. in Croatia and abroad.

CRORS activities are partially financed by the Ministry of Science, Education and Sports of the Republic of Croatia, by its membership subscription and by occasional small donations mostly made by local government institutions.

Annual Meeting

At its 20th Annual Meeting in 2013, CRORS members awarded Luka Neralic with a Distinguished Service Award for his special contribution to CRORS through his long dedication and efforts in foundation, development and international contribution of CRORS. In his interview with CRORS News, Neralic stated, “Since the establishment of CRORS I wanted to work on development of education in O.R. and also in application of O.R. in different areas. I expected that through activities of members of CRORS in theory and application, an important contribution in economy could be made. It was not easy to work in that direction, but I did not care about the time I spent. It seems to me that results could be better, hoping that it will happen in the future.”

The society has also established another award, Best Young Researcher Paper Award, to be given at the KOI conferences. Through this award the society hopes to motivate young researchers to make greater effort in their research in O.R. and to enable talented young people to gain recognition by the academic and business communities.

In addition, CRORS has created a strategic and operational plan of activities to engage in through 2015 that calls not only for a continuance of established activities, but also allows for the establishment of new activities in collaboration with businesses and international colleagues. Croatia has been a member of the European Union since 2013, and the society sees opportunity to apply for various projects at the European level and contribute to the development of O.R. in the theory and application in Croatia and abroad. By publishing CRORR and co-publishing CEJOR with other O.R. societies, CRORS will also fulfill an important role. Organization of a EURO or IFORS conference in Croatia could also be a challenge for CRORS to take on in the future.

Croatian Operational Review journal

CRORS continues to publish its scientific journal Croatian Operational Research Review (CRORR), which published Volume 4, Issue 1, in February 2013. The journal has been published by CRORS since 2010, and it evolved from the Proceedings of the KOI Conference that was published from 1992 to 2008. At the KOI conference 2010, the program committee decided to publish selected and positively reviewed papers in the journal. Beginning in 2014 the journal has published regular issues as well as special issues containing selected papers from the KOI conference. The journal home page is: http://www.hdoi.hr/crorr-journal.

Upcoming KOI 2014 Conference

Opening ceremony of the 14th International Conference on Operational Research,  KOI 2012, Trogir, Croatia.

The society’s members are looking forward to the next KOI in Osijek this fall. Along with CRORS, the conference will be organized by the Faculty of Economics and the Department of Mathematics at the University of Osijek. All interested O.R. researchers and professionals are invited to take part in the conference. Rudolf Scitovski of the University of Osijek is chair of the Program Committee, while Marijana Zekic-Susac of the University of Osijek chairs the Organizing Committee. The conference will include a special section in honor of Luka Neralic on the occasion of his 70th birthday. Confirmed invited speakers at the conference include James J. Cochran (Louisiana Tech University), Goran Lesaja (Georgia Southern University), Janez Povh (Faculty for Information Studies Novo Mesto, Slovenia) and Amir Nakib (Université Paris Est Créteil, France). Collaboration with internationally recognized O.R. researchers is very important for CRORS; by inviting such colleagues to be keynote speakers at KOI 2014, members of CRORS are exposed to new results in theory and application of O.R. In this way young colleagues can make contacts with professors from around the world and find places to go and do research or working on Ph.D. theses.

After the conference, each full paper will be reviewed by two independent reviewers, and accepted papers will be published in the Croatian Operational Research Journal.

The venue of the conference, the city of Osijek in the Slavonia region, is famous for its delicious food, warm people and rich culture. The city also features many monuments dating from Roman and Turkish conquests. The conference will feature several social events including an excursion to the nature park “Kopacki rit,” with a boat trip, a visit to a rural area with a dinner of traditional Slavonian food and cultural events. More information can be found on the conference website: http://www.hdoi.hr/koi-conference. We welcome you to Osijek at KOI 2014 where you can meet members of the Croatian O.R. community, experience Croatian tradition and culture, and contribute to the development of O.R. research and teaching. Through the efforts of CRORS members and colleagues who attend KOI 2014, we hope new ideas that improve science, economic development and well-being will be born.

Marijana Zekic-Susac (marijana@efos.hr) is president of the Croatian Operational Research Society (CRORS) and editor in chief of the Croatian Operational Research Review journal. She is a professor of economics at the University of Osijek, Croatia, where she teaches informatics, business simulations, business intelligence systems and other IT-related courses. She also serves as the chair of the Organizing Committee of KOI 2014.

Luka Neralic (lneralic@efzg.hr) is the founder and first president of CRORS and holds a Distinguished Service Award for the contribution to CRORS. He is a professor of economics at the University of Zagreb, Croatia. He has organized a number of international O.R. conferences and seminars and was the chair of the Programming Committee of the six past KOI conferences.