Position Statement: Edward H. Kaplan

Edward H. Kaplan

Edward H. Kaplan

Moosomin (not to be confused with Moosomax) is a town of about 2,500 people in Saskatchewan, Canada. Situated about one-third of the way from Regina to Winnipeg, due north of North Dakota but well south of the North Pole, Moosomin’s weekly newspaper is called the World Spectator. This title would be a poor name for a new INFORMS journal, for operations research is not a spectator sport.

Indeed, INFORMS members are active, even restless, in their pursuit of world-class problems. The raw talents of our 11,000+ members and the diversity of interests they pursue are astonishing. What is the most efficient way to allocate food aid in poor countries to maximize incremental survival? Ask INFORMS member Larry Wein. Are you interested in the latest developments applying mathematics to business analytics? Talk to INFORMS member Brenda Dietrich. Moving around, whether by air, sea or rail, how can one improve global transport operations? INFORMS member Stefan Karisch and Jeppesen know the optimal approach. What are the best ways to defend our critical infrastructure against security threats both domestic and foreign? Check with the INFORMS members from the operations research department at the Naval Postgraduate School. How are things going in those states that legalized marijuana? Of all the people you can ask, INFORMS member Jon Caulkins should be high on your list. How to optimize routes while reducing environmental impacts by minimizing left turns? Turn to INFORMS member Jack Levis to learn how UPS delivered. Still waiting for solutions to complicated staffing problems in service systems? INFORMS member Ward Whitt can cue you in. Sports analytics? Healthcare operations? Supply chains? Humanitarian logistics? Change the world? INFORMS has you covered. You get the picture: INFORMS members are not world spectators.

It is a cliché to say that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, and the examples above make clear that INFORMS has some pretty impressive parts! But what makes INFORMS super additive over the activities of its individual members? INFORMS creates an environment that enables individual members to flourish. The INFORMS website provides a starting point from which members can see what other members are doing. INFORMS fosters connectivity among its members via sponsored meetings, societies and subdivisions. The INFORMS journals enable members (and non-members) to communicate/archive their best work with the “seal of approval” publication in peer-reviewed journals such as Operations Research or Management Science provide. The additional recognition of excellence in research or application (or both) bestowed by INFORMS adds to the impact individuals can mount on their own. INFORMS also broadcasts information about advances in our field to the larger world via its public relations efforts. One way to see the value of INFORMS is to imagine your life without it. Academics, where would you publish, and how would you disseminate your exciting new ideas? Practitioners, to whom would you turn to share your successes or frustrations with your experiences using OR/MS techniques or implementation of new ideas?

Our membership has dedicated, excellent staff led by Melissa Moore that handle day-to-day operations and organize the services INFORMS provides. Incredible volunteer work further ensures the success of meetings, journals and outreach activities. Given this beehive, why have a leader who actually serves as president for only one year? The president is the “member in chief.” The role is to inspire, to serve as a spokesperson for the profession, and to lead by example. The opportunity is to promote an “operations everything” mindset that showcases to both INFORMS members and the world at large what our members have already accomplished and are capable of achieving.

If the above appeals to you, come join the adventure and we’ll take this as far as we can.  If not, the Nominating Committee has suggested terrific alternative candidates you can back instead. As for Moosomin, dating back to 1884, the World Spectator has taken an active stance in community service and promoting human rights, including award-winning exposes of Ku Klux Klan activity in Saskatchewan and international dispatches from places as far-flung as Afghanistan, Mozambique and Vietnam. The World Spectator has not simply watched the world all these years, and neither should we.

Edward H. Kaplan is the William N. and Marie A. Beach Professor of Operations Research, Public Health, and Engineering at Yale University’s School of Management. An expert in operations research, mathematical modeling and statistics, Ed was elected to the National Academy of Engineering and the Institute of Medicine. His research in HIV prevention and counterterrorism has been recognized with the Edelman Award, Lanchester Prize, Centers for Disease Control’s Charles C. Shepard Science Award, INFORMS President’s Award, three Koopman Prizes and numerous other awards. Ed was Lady Davis Visiting Professor of medicine and of statistics at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and also served as visiting professor to the Faculty of Industrial Engineering and Management at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, the Survey Research Center at U.C. Berkeley, Columbia’s Graduate School of Business, MIT’s Sloan School of Management and Stanford’s Graduate School of Business.