Our international roots

L. Robin KellerINFORMS President

Welcome, bien venidos, bien venue, ceud mìle fàilte…

Leading up to the 1995 merger of ORSA and TIMS that created INFORMS, organization officials developed five major professional society objectives by gathering stakeholder input [1]. This column will focus on one of those objectives: to manage the scope and diversity of the field (particularly through international outreach), which includes maintaining and improving membership composition and creating strong relationships with other societies.

Sometimes INFORMS’ international roots are not so obvious. For example, did you know that former INFORMS President Anne Robinson (2013) is a Canadian from Newfoundland, while President-Elect Ed Kaplan (2016) grew up in Saskatchewan, Canada? Ed also lived in Israel for two years

In 2014, INFORMS journals were available through institutions in 77 countries, including 10 countries that have made the current content available through countrywide licensing agreements. Subscribers hail from Europe, Central Europe, the Middle East, Africa, North America, the Caribbean, Central and South America, Australia, New Zealand and Asia.

If you are traveling and want to know if your host has access to current INFORMS journals content, visit the searchable database. It’s no surprise that the journals are attracting submissions from the same locations and even more. Last year, 6,143 submissions came from 83 different countries.

This year I will travel to the CORS/INFORMS International Conference [2] in Montreal from June 14-17 and to the EURO2015 Conference [3] in Glasgow, Scotland, on July 12-15. INFORMS is also a co-sponsor of the Singapore World Congress for the Society for Risk Analysis [4] in July and of the IIASA conference [5] on “System Analysis 2015” in Laxenburg, near Vienna, Austria, in November.

Jim Cochran (University of Alabama), Rakesh Sarin (UCLA) and I (UC Irvine) recently returned to the United States after attending the 11th International Workshop on Operations Research in Havana, Cuba [6]. The theme was “O.R. and Human Welfare: Health, Environment and Education.”  Many of the conference talks were on optimization (simulated annealing, genetic algorithms, integer programming, etc.). Other topics ranged from models for representing multi-dimensional images (of the human body or oil spills), to statistical analysis of factors affecting mathematical career success or voter preferences. Talks were in a mix of English and Spanish.

The workshop began in the Hotel Ambos Mundos, in picturesque Old Havana amid cobblestone streets and high-ceilinged architecture, with an opening ceremony and tour of author Ernest Hemingway’s room as it looked when he stayed there in the 1930s [7]. Conference program chair Sira Ma. Allende Alonso, Carlos N. Bouza [8], and their daughter Gemayqzel Bouza from the Universidad de la Habana, were gracious hosts in our conference locale at the Colegio San Gerónimo, across from the Hotel Ambos Mundos.

The event alternates yearly between a smaller workshop and a larger conference. This year’s workshop had nearly 70 attendees from 13 countries, including about 20 from Cuba, plus 12 attendees from Europe, eight from South America, 23 from North America (19 from Mexico) and two from Angola.

Jim Cochran’s plenary talk on “The Education Generation Gap: Confronting and Embracing the Challenges that Growing Computing Power and New Technology Present to Applied Mathematics Education” led off the Teaching Effectiveness Colloquium sessions. Jim has spearheaded the organization of such teaching colloquia in O.R. conferences around the world. (I spoke on “Teaching Multi-objective Multi-stakeholder Modeling with Cases” [9].)

Marcos José Negreiros Gomes from Universidade Estadual de Ceará in Brazil spoke on the NP-hard “Capacitated Centered Clustering Problem: Applications, Model, Exact and Metaheuristic Methods,” applicable to sales force geographical distribution and routing newspaper delivery. Michael Ahlheim from Universität Hohenheim in Germany spoke on “The Economic Valuation of Changes in Land Use Towards More Sustainability – An Empirical Example from Southwest China,” focusing on how rubber tree plantations are replacing the rainforest in Xishuangbanna Prefecture in China’s Yannan Province.  Joseph Rinkiewicz from Université de Paris spoke on using Bayesian networks in “Assessment of the Influence of Education Level on Voting Intention for the Extreme Right in France.”

Next year, the 12th International Conference on Operations Research in Havana, Cuba, will be held March 8-11, probably at the Riviera Hotel [10] to accommodate more than 100 international participants. Topics will include optimization, probability and statistics, mathematical economics, differential equations, algorithms and operations research education. Maybe you’d like to travel to the conference and give a talk or a poster? [11]

¡Salud! À votre santé, Guid Health! Prosit! ORMS


  1. L. R. Keller & C. W. Kirkwood, “The Founding of INFORMS: A Decision Analysis Perspective,” Operations Research, Vol. 47, No. 1, Jan.-Feb. 1999, pp. 16-28.
  5. International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis,
  7. He began his novel “For Whom the Bell Tolls” in his room (#511),,
  8. See the article in this issue by Professors Allende and Bouza on the history of operations research in Cuba.
  9. See my website for materials:
  11. There is a general license for U.S. participants to visit Cuba for research, not tourism; you do not need to get U.S. government travel permission (