Wonderful, worldwide O.R.

For the 19th year, welcome to the annual special international issue of OR/MS Today. The highlighted projects change, but the goal of the special issue remains the same: to give readers a glimpse at how history, geography, natural resources and culture impact the way O.R. is preached and practiced around the world.

This year’s worldwide tour begins in Scandinavia with contributor Valentin Polishchuk’s article on “Optimal design of terminal airspace” (page 18). Citing a case study involving Sweden and Denmark, Polishchuk addresses air space congestion in the vicinity of airports, where most bottlenecks and delays occur, and how “optimizing the airspace over Stockholm will bring a number of benefits.” In adjacent Norway, Hajnalka Vaagen offers another case study on the role of operations research and behavioral operations management in handling project complexity in specialized shipbuilding (page 22).

Traveling further south and east through Europe, our tour takes us to Hungary and Croatia. In Budapest, contributors Tibor Illés and Richárd Molnár-Szipai examine multimodal transportation with an eye on developing a decision support system to optimize travel throughout the bustling metropolitan area (page 26). In Croatia, a quartet of authors describe a collaborative effort among academics and the software firm Farmeron to apply O.R. to dairy cow farms. The goal: lower the cost of milk production (page 30).

Next, we fly to South America, where two more intriguing applications of O. R. await. For decades, mining has been the engine driving economic growth in Peru, making it one of the best performing economies in Latin America. Contributor Vincent Charles turns to “soft O.R.” to balance the economic benefits of mining with environmental concerns and “wicked” social conflicts among local communities impacted by mining (page 34).
Pork is Chile’s leading export meat; shipments reached $467 million last year. Contributor Marcela C. González-Araya describes her work with one of Chile’s largest pork producers, work that focuses on a decision support system for production planning in a swine slaughterhouse (page 40).

The final two stops on the international tour take us to Asia. Kosuke Shaku and Toshinori Sasaya provide a behind-the-scenes look at the widespread use of operations research – from demand forecasting to emergency response – at Tokyo Gas, the largest city gas supplier in Japan (page 44). Our tour ends in China, where contributor Jiuping Xu tells a fascinating story linking hydropower engineering and water conservancy. Needless to say, effectively managing huge construction projects and efficiently harnessing vast water resources is critical as demand for energy increases along with environmental concerns (page 48).

This issue would not have been possible without the input of Jim Cochran, professor at the University of Alabama, chair of the OR/MS Today Committee and co-founder of Statistics Without Borders, who put me in touch with contributors through his global network of colleagues. And the concept of an annual special international issue of OR/MS Today would not even exist without Andres Weintraub, professor at the University of Chile and a former president of the International Federation of Operational Research Societies, whose suggestions and guidance helped launch the annual special issue and whose contributions and friendship have continued for more than 20 years.

As always, we hope you enjoy this worldwide, whirlwind tour of operations research at work, and we look forward to hearing your comments.

— Peter Horner, editor