Edelman finalists, long queues & STEM majors

INFORMS announces 2016 Edelman Award finalists

The Edelman competition is considered the “Super Bowl of O.R.”

The Edelman competition is considered the “Super Bowl of O.R.”

INFORMS named six organizations representing applications of real-world operations research and advanced analytics for the 2016 Franz Edelman Award competition. The winner will be announced at the INFORMS Conference on Business Analytics & Operations Research in Orlando, Fla., in April following a daylong series of presentations before a panel of judges.

The finalists include:
360i for “360i’s Digital Nervous System”
Digital Nervous System is a suite of paid search optimization and management systems for online marketers that rapidly selects keywords and creates campaigns; reverse engineers the Google second-price auction to identify quality score problems before they arise; calculates accurate bids for keywords with sparse data; integrates advanced application programming interfaces into real-time search bids and ad creation; and creates detailed pricing forecasts to produce bids on keywords.
The Digital Nervous System has resulted in $250 million in cost savings and $1 billion in revenue generation for the company’s paid search clients.
BNY Mellon for “Transition State and End State Optimization Used in the BNY Mellon U.S. Tri-Party Repo Infrastructure Reform Program”
BNY Mellon is a leader in the tri-party repo market with approximately $2.2 trillion serviced globally, which includes $1.3 trillion or 85 percent of the U.S. tri-party repo market. In response to the 2008 financial crisis, BNY Mellon worked closely with its clients, their investors, and other market participants to meet the recommendations of the U.S. Tri-Party Repo Infrastructure Reform Task Force sponsored by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

In August 2012, Karen Peetz, BNY Mellon president, spoke before the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Securities, Insurance, and Investment about the U.S. tri-party repo market and this initiative to practically eliminate intraday credit risk, defined as a 90 percent reduction. BNY Mellon has exceeded the 90 percent goal to reduce secured credit extended in the tri-party repo market as $1.44 trillion risk reduction has been achieved, or 97 percent.
Chilean Professional Soccer Association (ANFP) for “Operations Research Transforms Scheduling of Chilean Soccer Leagues and South American World Cup Qualifiers”
Over the last 11 years, operations research techniques have been applied to schedule professional soccer leagues in Chile. These techniques have yielded a direct economic impact of more than $55 million through a combination of increased ticket sales, cost savings, and subscriber growth for Chile’s soccer television channel and cost reductions for the teams due to the better travel schedules resulting from an improved ordering of home and away games.

These techniques have also been used to schedule the South American 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers.

The New York City Police Department (NYPD) for “Domain Awareness System (DAS)”
The Domain Awareness System (DAS) is a network of sensors, databases, devices, software and infrastructure that delivers tailored information and analytics to the field and to precinct desktops enabling police officers to make more informed decisions. Originally designed for counterterrorism purposes, the DAS has been modified for general policing and is now deployed across every police precinct in the five boroughs, and will shortly be on all 36,000 officers’ smartphones and all 2,000 police vehicle tablets. No other police department in the world shares information and delivers analysis to its officers as effectively.

The NYPD is now more effectively using its data to inform decisions at all levels of the Department, allowing it to better serve the City of New York.
UPS for “UPS On Road Integrated Optimization and Navigation (Orion) Project”
The UPS Orion project is based on a sophisticated algorithm that automatically plots the course of more than 30,000 UPS drivers every day, which will increase to 55,000 drivers in 2016.

Because ORION provides an optimized delivery sequence that meets multiple operational constraints, the drivers are relieved of the complexity of determining how to make their deliveries.

Costing $250 million to build and deploy, ORION is expected to save $300 million to $400 million annually, reduce annual CO2 emissions by 100,000 metric tons, and decrease yearly fuel consumption by 10 million gallons.
U.S. Army Communications Electronics Command (CECOM) for “Bayesian Networks for U.S. Army Electronics Equipment Diagnostic Applications: CECOM Equipment Diagnostic Analysis Tool, Virtual Logistics Assistance Representative”
Soldiers in Afghanistan are required to operate and maintain complex electronic weapon systems with minimal resources in combat conditions. The inherent logistics challenges of the Combat Outpost (COP) environment make it difficult to provide timely assistance with support personnel.

Research on the life cycle of COP equipment problems shows that early misdiagnoses can initiate a chain of events that can create lengthy system outages and put lives in jeopardy. CECOM has developed and implemented the CECOM Equipment Diagnostic Analysis Tool, Virtual Logistics Assistance Representative (CEDAT VLAR) to directly address the onsite needs of soldiers in Afghanistan by mitigating knowledge gaps in the COP environment.

This has resulted in tens of millions of dollars in cost savings, increased maintenance efficiency, reductions in troubleshooting time, and No Evidence of Failure (NEOF) component returns have been reduced to zero over the last 18 months.

The finalists were chosen after a rigorous review by verifiers, all of whom have led successful analytics projects. The verifiers come from organizations such as Verizon Wireless, HP, Turner Broadcasting, Carnegie Mellon University, PriceWaterhouseCooper, SAITECH, Princeton Consultants, University of Chicago and University of Maryland.

Art, science and psychology of managing long queues

People can expect to spend one to two years of their lives waiting in line.

People can expect to spend one to two years of their lives waiting in line.

As a world-renown expert in queueing theory, MIT professor Richard Larson, aka “Dr. Queue,” knows all about waiting in lines. So it’s no surprise that when the Washington Post’s Wonkblog reporter Ana Swanson needed an expert source for her story on the art and science of managing long queues, she called on Dr. Queue.

According to Larson, people can expect to spend one to two years of their lives waiting in line, most of it stuck in traffic. But those five-minute waits in the checkout line at the supermarket, stuck behind someone talking on their smartphone while fumbling with a pile of coupons and dollar bills to give to the checker, can be just as annoying.

As Swanson notes in the article, waiting in line not only irritates the customer, it’s bad for business. “A long and unpleasant wait can damage a customer’s view of a brand, cause people to leave a line or not enter it in the first place (what researchers respectively call ‘reneging’ and ‘balking’), or discourage them from coming back to the store entirely,” she writes.

Businesses, of course, realize this and come up with various ways to solve the problem, starting with good, old-fashioned distraction such as magazines in the doctor’s waiting room and near the supermarket checkout lines. Larson, a past president of INFORMS, considers Disney the “undisputed master” of designing queues that are entertaining and that create anticipation for the ride. “In my book, [Disney is] number one in the psychology and in the physics of queues,” Larson tells the Post.

Writes Swanson: “The design is so successful that parents with young children can happily stand in line for an hour for a four-minute ride – a pretty remarkable feat, [Larson] points out. And of course, the capacity of the line and the ride are carefully calculated to balance customer satisfaction with profits.”

To read the complete article “What really drives you crazy about waiting in line," see

STEM majors with the best value

Not surprisingly,’s updated list of the “STEM Majors With the Best Value for 2015” is loaded with majors common among members of the analytics community. The list includes information technology (No. 1), computer programming (No. 3), computer and information science (No. 5), engineering (No. 7), data modeling (No. 9), computer systems analysis (No. 11), mathematics (No. 18), management science (No. 21), informatics (No. 22), petroleum engineering (No. 23) and physics (No. 25). analyzed 122 majors belonging to the STEM disciplines. To be included in the rankings, each major had to meet at least one of the following criteria:

  • be on the 2012 STEM-Designated Degree Program List from the Department of Homeland Security, and
  • be matched by the National Center for Education Statistics to a job on the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ list of STEM occupations

Ranking criteria including educational availability, educational affordability, earnings and employment opportunity.


An article in the December 2015 issue of OR/MS Today (“Improving protection for our protectors”) referred to a “growing population of veterans.” Currently, the overall number of U.S. veterans is, in fact, declining, as the aging out of older cohorts more than offsets the influx of new veterans. This fact is immaterial to the rest of the article, which focused on improving veterans’ care.