INFORMS Initiatives

Vision for the new INFORMS Journal on Optimization

By Dimitris Bertsimas

Dimitris Bertsimas

Optimization has a long and distinguished history and has been at the core of INFORMS from the founding of the Operations Research Society of America (ORSA) in the early 1950s. I would argue that without the simplex method, the key algorithm for linear optimization, ORSA might not have existed.

Historically, optimization and operations research have focused on the process of building models to derive optimal decisions. While models have been the protagonist, data has been a secondary actor. In recent years, we have witnessed an unprecedented growth of data in electronic form and methods, typically associated with the area of machine learning, for prediction. I feel that one of the largest opportunities of the field of optimization is to embrace data in a protagonist role and combine it with machine learning. The vision of the future for the field of optimization and operations research is summarized in Figure 1. Specifically, I feel that the future of optimization/operations research is in its union with machine learning to form the field of analytics: the science that starts with data and builds models to derive optimal decisions that add value.

Areas of Interest for New Journal

With these ideas in mind, my vision of the new INFORMS Journal on Optimization includes the following areas:

  • data-driven optimization
  • optimization methods in machine learning
  • exciting real-world applications of optimization
Figure 1: Union of optimization, O.R. and machine learning.

Figure 1: Union of optimization, O.R. and machine learning.

In addition, the journal will publish papers in more traditional areas of optimization. A non-exclusive list of methodologies that the journal covers includes: convex optimization (including linear optimization); general purpose nonlinear optimization; discrete optimization (combinatorial, integer, mixed integer optimization); optimization under uncertainty (dynamic programming, stochastic programming, robust optimization, simulation-based optimization); infinite dimensional optimization; and online optimization.

Especially welcome are contributions studying new and significant applications. A non-exclusive list of application areas the journal covers includes: healthcare, inventory and supply chain management; logistics; revenue management and pricing; energy; the Internet; interfaces with computer science; and finance.

There are other leading journals in optimization that are more focused on the methodology of optimization. The aspiration of the INFORMS Journal on Optimization is to add a quality outlet that, in addition to methodological papers, will also publish papers that place particular emphasis on data-driven optimization, the interface with machine learning and real-world applications of optimization.

The INFORMS Journal on Optimization welcomes the following types of submissions:

Regular articles: These are original papers that build on an area and expand it in different ways. A paper in this category will be published electronically within one year of submission. Accepted regular articles are expected to score highly in at least one of the following questions:

  • How new and significant is the application studied?
  • How original/creative is the optimization modeling?
  • How original/creative is the optimization methodology?
  • How significant is the impact in practice?

Perspective articles: These are unusually original papers that initiate an area, typically the first of their kind. A paper in this category will be published electronically within two months of submission.

Review articles: These are papers that present a unifying and comprehensive review of an area of optimization. A paper in this category will be published electronically within six months of submission.

Special issues: We will invite papers in a theme of optimization. The first such special issue is in the area of machine learning and optimization. Please submit papers for the special issue by Dec. 31, 2017. We expect that the first review will be sent back to authors by April 1, 2018. The special issue is earmarked to be published by January 2019.

Addressing Problems and Encouraging Contributions

There are three trends in our field that the journal aspires to reverse: (a) long delays, (b) negativity in the review process, and (c) the difficulty that particularly original papers experience in order to be published.

To address long delays, for regular papers the journal will try to solicit reviews from three reviewers for each paper and will aspire to get a response to the authors within three months of submission. We expect at most one round of revision, and the overall expectation is that a paper will appear electronically within one year of submission. If a regular paper is not sent to reviewers, we will communicate this decision to authors within two weeks of submission.

To address negativity in the review process, the journal will not reject a paper with one (out of three) negative report, unless there are serious questions on correctness. I very much believe in finding what is good in an idea and trying to improve it. I especially believe it is important to encourage our young people.

To encourage research with high aspirations and unusual originality, we have introduced the notion of perspective papers. Such papers will be reviewed directly by members of the editorial board, and a first response will be returned to the authors within one month of submission, with the objective that accepted papers will appear within two months of submission.

The Life of a Paper

The final innovation is that accepted papers will appear electronically with a rationale of their contribution, written by the associate editor and the editor-in-chief. Furthermore, the community can post public eponymous comments on the paper, and the authors will have an opportunity to comment. In this way, a paper is a live object generating discussion and ideas over time.

The Editorial Board

The editorial board of the journal consists of: Shabbir Ahmed, Dimitris Bertsimas, John Birge, Dick den Hertzog, Brian Denton, Laurent El Ghaoui, Vivek Farias, Dan Iancu, Garud Iyengar, Patrick Jaillet, Andrea Lodi, David Morton, Alexandra Newman, Georgia Perakis, Jim Renegar, Suvrajeet Sen, David Shmoys, Melvyn Sim and Benjamin van Roy.

Dimitris Bertsimas is the editor-in-chief of the INFORMS Journal on Optimization.

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