INFORMS News: President-elect position statement: Ramayya Krishnan

“I am enormously optimistic about the unique capabilities of our INFORMS community. In a world being transformed by technological change, we need to build even deeper partnerships – partnerships that facilitate foundational and applied activities in MS/OR/analytics – between academia, industry and government to gain greater recognition for the contributions we make and can make.”

Matching consumers to drivers in ride-sharing systems. Anti-money laundering networks and counter-terror operations. Smart public safety and policing. Therapeutic optimization for precision medicine. What is the common thread that links these contemporary examples together? It is operations research and management science!

Each of these topics is at the frontier of the convergence of social, cyber, physical and biological systems that are having a transformational impact on every sector of the economy. Hand in hand with these developments is the evolution of autonomous decision systems or artificial intelligence. From the design and analysis of these social cyber-physical systems and autonomous decision systems through foundational algorithmic and modeling work, and from understanding the consequences of increasing digitization on business and society to examining its disruption of labor markets and the future of work, I believe the INFORMS community is uniquely positioned to tackle these challenges and solve these problems.

However, to gain recognition for the important contributions we make and can make, we need even deeper partnerships between academia, industry and government. Such partnerships must be “closed loop” and supportive of a model that links problems to both foundational and applied research in MS/OR/analytics. It has to go beyond development to deployment. In other words, INFORMS needs to encourage partnerships that facilitate RD&D (research, development and deployment).

What are the objectives of these partnerships and how might INFORMS achieve them?

  1. Make the INFORMS community aware of a constantly evolving and relevant set of new problems.The INFORMS Roundtable and its industry partners are an important resource to help us realize the “closed loop” model of problems-research-development-and-deployment. Imagine having an emerging problems/frontiers track or pre-conference workshop at INFORMS to introduce the community to new problems. Having the editors of our 14 journals attend and jumpstart research to address these problems through creation of special sections or issues would further engage the academic community around these problems and make it attractive to junior faculty and Ph.D. students.
  2. Maintain leadership in the public sphere in the rapidly evolving field of analytics. INFORMS has done good work by positioning itself in the world of “analytics.” Specific initiatives include CAP®, the Business Analytics Conference and the UPS Prize. To grow the mindshare in industry and gain seats at the table, INFORMS could hold hackathons/challenges on important societal problems independently or in partnership with a consortia of industry/government partners. Imagine an INFORMS-sponsored challenge on healthcare costs or on networks and counterterror.
  3. Increase visibility of important contributions to public policy through an annual INFORMS Public Policy Workshop. INFORMS could host an annual workshop that showcases policy-relevant work done by its members. Efforts could be made to ensure that the attendees include members of OSTP (Office of Science and Technology Policy), assistant directors and division directors from NSF and NIH, and senior executives from HUD, DOE, DOT, DHS, HHS and DOD. The objective would be to build greater awareness to take on topical and high-impact societal problems and for the community to actively engage in shaping funding opportunities.
  4. Sharpen use by INFORMS of its marketing platforms and channels including the web, YouTube and its social channels to influence external stakeholders and generate more value to members. The INFORMS community creates a great deal of high-quality content. Examples include Edelman Award and Wagner Prize finalist papers and videos, as well as the UPS Smith Prize videos. How could these assets be curated to yield material relevant to external stakeholders such as reporters? Similarly, how could these assets create value to INFORMS members to support their research, teaching and outreach to grow the pipeline of high school students and undergraduates interested in MS/OR/analytics?

These objectives stem from my experience in addressing similar challenges at Carnegie Mellon and at INFORMS. In 1998, I founded an interdisciplinary master’s degree program that combined analytics and information technology. During my deanship, I doubled the size of this top-ranked program and built deep partnerships with industry and government to support education and research. In 2016, the Heinz College won the INFORMS UPS George D. Smith Prize for educational excellence in analytics. My tenure as chair of the Computing Society and president of the Information Systems Society taught me how to work with members to realize shared goals. If elected as your president-elect, I will work with you and my colleagues on the board to realize the objectives I have outlined.

Ramayya Krishnan is the dean and W. W. Cooper and Ruth F. Cooper Professor of Management Science and Information Systems at the Heinz College of Information Systems and Public Policy and in the Department of Engineering and Public Policy at Carnegie Mellon University. He is an INFORMS Fellow and a Distinguished Fellow of the INFORMS Information Systems Society. He is a former member of the Global Agenda Council of the World Economic Forum. He is the recipient of the Y. Nayuduamma Award 2016 for his contributions to business technology and telecommunications and was awarded the distinguished alumnus award of the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, in 2017.

The Heinz College won the UPS George D. Smith Prize for educational excellence in 2016. It is the only educational institution that is home to both the von Neumann Theory Prize and the UPS George D. Smith Prize from INFORMS.