INFORMS Initiatives

Edelman finalists, Pro Bono Analytics, UPS Prize finalists

Six finalists named for Edelman Award

The Franz Edelman Award is the world’s most prestigious award for achievement in the practice of analytics and O.R.

The Franz Edelman Award is the world’s most prestigious award for achievement in the practice of analytics and O.R.

INFORMS selected a diverse group of six finalists for the 47th annual Franz Edelman Award for Achievement in Operations Research and the Management Sciences, the world’s most prestigious award for achievement in the practice of analytics and O.R. The 2018 finalists, who will present their work before a panel of judges at the INFORMS Conference on Business Analytics & Operations Research in Baltimore on April 15-17, included innovative applications in broadcasting, healthcare, communication, inventory management, vehicle fleet management and alternative energy.

For more than four decades, winners of the Edelman Award have been recognized for transforming how to approach some of the world’s most complex problems. Finalists for the Edelman Award have contributed a cumulative impact of more than $250 billion since the award’s inception.

The finalists for the 2018 Edelman Award are:

China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC): China’s natural gas consumption has nearly doubled over the past five years. To better meet demand, CNPC, China’s largest oil and natural gas producer and supplier, partnered with researchers from the University of California at Berkeley and Tsinghua University to develop and implement a new software that optimized the country’s natural gas pipeline. Previously, all annual planning for CNPC, which controls 75 percent of the country’s natural gas resources and pipeline network, was manually conducted using spreadsheets. However, the increasing complexity and size of China’s natural gas pipeline meant that the previous method had large measures of error, increasing costs and wasting resources. Since implementing its new systems at the end of 2014, CNPC has realized approximately $330 million in direct savings for CNPC, and the increased efficiency of the pipeline has enabled it to delay further pipeline expansions saving billions of additional dollars.

Europcar: Europcar, the leading European car rental company that provides rental services to more than 5 million drivers annually, partnered with ACT Operations Research to create Opticar – an advanced logistics management solutions for tackling the many factors that impact the car rental industry each day, such as the need for vehicles at airports and hotels and customer requests for vehicle upgrades.

The system can also anticipate future demand for Europcar’s fleet of vehicles up to six months in advance, improving capacity management. In addition, the Opticar system enabled Europcar to optimize its approach to revenue management, providing a new, more stable pricing system for its vehicle rentals that takes into account competitor pricing, what vehicles are currently available, and expected demand for vehicles.

Federal Communications Commission: The Federal Communications Commission recently completed the world’s first two-sided auction of valuable low-band electromagnetic spectrum, reclaiming channels from TV broadcasters to meet the exploding demand for wireless services. The commission purchased spectrum from TV broadcasters, sold the acquired spectrum to wireless providers, and assigned the remaining broadcasters to new channels in a smaller TV band.

Operations research tools, including optimization software and satisfiability solvers, were essential to the spectrum clearing target calculations, auction winner determinations and final TV channel assignments. The auction repurposed 84 MHz of TV spectrum for wireless use, raised nearly $20 billion in revenue, paid more than $10 billion to winning broadcasters, provided nearly $2 billion for relocation costs for non-winning broadcasters, and contributed more than $7 billion to reduce the federal deficit. The final channel assignments, which included all 2,900 U.S. and Canadian TV stations, enabled 78 percent of the stations to remain on their existing channels, providing an estimated savings of more than $200 million in relocation costs.

Intel: Intel, which employs more than 100,000 people in more than 70 countries around the world and has an annual revenue of $60 billion, implemented a fully automated multi-echelon inventory optimization (MEIO)-based inventory target-setting system managing $1 billion daily in finished goods inventory representing more than $40 billion a year in sales. Algorithm-derived inventory targets at Intel are accepted by planners more than 99 percent of the time and have simultaneously driven higher customer service and lower inventory levels resulting in more than $1.3 billion in gross profit since 2014.

In addition, customers are delighted; since MEIO was implemented at all of Intel’s vendor-managed inventory hubs in 2012, customer satisfaction has never been higher and Intel has landed in the top 10 of Gartner’s Supply Chain Top 25 every year. Faculty in the department of Business Analytics and Statistics at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville and the supply chain software company Logility also contributed to this project.

Pediatric Heart Network: The Pediatric Heart Network enlisted researchers with the Georgia Institute of Technology to create clinical practice guidelines (CPG) for pre-, intra- and post-surgical care of patients with congenital heart defects (CHDs), the most common birth defect, impacting nearly 1 million children and 1.4 million adults in the United States. Substantial variances in surgical practices to treat patients with CHDs among different healthcare centers were reflected in inconsistent surgical outcomes, some of which resulted in negative consequences for patients.

By studying the nine leading U.S. pediatric centers, the researchers identified seven significant factors for influencing surgical outcome, and implemented a CPG that enables patients to be removed from breathing apparatuses earlier, lowered the rate of reintubation, and decreased the time patients need to remain in the intensive care unit. These guidelines also realized a cost savings of 27 percent, which translates to $13,500 per patient.

Turner Broadcasting System, Inc.: Turner Broadcasting System, Inc., a division of TimeWarner that manages multiple popular television networks including CNN, TBS and the Cartoon Network, developed two television audience targeting solutions that simultaneously created advertiser and sales efficiencies. TargetingNOW and AudienceNOW, released in 2014 and 2015, respectively, revolutionized media industry standards and processes by implementing integrated forecasting and optimization models to increase the demographics and reach of advertising opportunities. Currently, more than 130 advertisement deals have been executed under these new solutions representing significant ad revenue.

Turner anticipates that by 2020, half its advertising inventory will be purchased through TargetingNOW and AudienceNOW, realizing ad revenue in the billions. Based on the current success of these systems, Turner is expanding its use of these methods to optimize other areas of media revenue management, including its programing schedules, as well as its Latin American markets.
First awarded in 1972, the prize is named in honor of Franz Edelman, who founded the operations research division within RCA, one of the first corporations to embed operations research as a business imperative.

Pro Bono Analytics: Looking back on 2017

UB engineering students whose “Pro Bono Analytics” project delivered results to two local, nonprofit organizations. Photo credit: Meredith Forrest Kulwicki

UB engineering students whose “Pro Bono Analytics” project delivered results to two local, nonprofit organizations. Photo credit: Meredith Forrest Kulwicki

By David Hunt
In 2017, Pro Bono Analytics moved from an initiative to an official INFORMS program, and the response has been overwhelming. In addition to helping nonprofit organizations across the country and hosting a special fundraiser to support the city of Houston, the hard work of our volunteers is helping to build a quality program of which all INFORMS members can be proud. Pro Bono Analytics continues to focus on its mission of using analytics to make a difference to nonprofit organizations working in underserved areas and for underserved populations.

2017 by the numbers:

  • seven projects completed
  • 10 projects underway, carried into 2018
  • more than $7,500 raised to benefit Houston Annual Meeting partner organization, plus creation of 1,200 toiletry kits distributed to Houston’s homeless population

The Pro Bono Analytics network has grown to more than 500 volunteers, based around the world, making all of this charitable work in their communities possible. Volunteers were able to successfully employ their skills in decision analysis, marketing science, logistics and general analytics to complete projects that helped a wide variety of nonprofit organizations better fulfill their mission.

A quick look at a few nonprofit clients:

Goodwill Industries, Grand Rapids, Mich.: Volunteers worked with the VP of Business Intelligence to evaluate and make recommendations about various ad campaigns and their impact on in-store foot traffic. “We are so excited about the information that was presented to us. We are following the recommendations and trying to schedule the ad coupons in a way that is more measurable. The information on how to structure the data will be so helpful.”

Meals on Wheels for Western New York: Student volunteers from the University at Buffalo focused on optimization for the “pack-out” process for the delivery of hot and cold meals. Their recommended processes will allow for more accurate tracking, enabling staff and volunteers to serve clients more effectively.

“All of the students were very, very professional and took a genuine interest in the project.”

Family Services of Greater Boston: Volunteers helped develop data management strategies to standardize collection and coordinate care across programs to better serve clients in a community-based behavioral health service organization.

“[Pro Bono Analytics] offered an excellent and professional approach to our statistical and data challenges.”
Fundraising and volunteering in Houston: The 2017 INFORMS Annual Meeting took place in Houston less than two months after the city was devastated by Hurricane Harvey. Pro Bono Analytics partnered with local homeless shelter, Star of Hope Mission, and thanks to the generosity of INFORMS members, conference attendees and corporate donors, more than $7,500 was raised in support of Houston’s homeless population. During the Annual Meeting, members and attendees volunteered their time to help build more than 1,200 personal hygiene kits that were distributed to homeless men, women and children on the streets of Houston by Star of Hope Mission. Thanks goes out to everyone who joined this mission to make a difference for those who truly needed a helping hand.

What’s next for Pro Bono Analytics?
Pro Bono Analytics will continue to take on new projects that provide analytics support to nonprofit organizations, thus helping to make a difference in underserved communities in 2018. Also, after the success of the fundraising and volunteer effort in Houston, there is an initiative to partner with an organization in Phoenix, the 2018 INFORMS Annual Meeting host city, and all future host cities.

Want to help on this and other projects? One way is to visit our website at and sign up to become a volunteer helping change the world through analytics. New projects are sent to all volunteers as they become available – simply submit your resume to any project that piques your interest or matches your skill set. An important feature of Pro Bono Analytics is that the nonprofit organization selects their partner volunteer(s).

Another way to help is spreading the word of Pro Bono Analytics. If you or a colleague knows of a nonprofit organization that could benefit from analytics services, feel free to get in touch with the Pro Bono Analytics program manager.

INFORMS Pro Bono Analytics extends its gratitude to all those who were involved with the program in 2017. The program will continue to grow in 2018 while achieving its mission of helping nonprofit organizations make a greater difference in their communities through analytics. None of this would be possible without the dedication of volunteers, nonprofit partner organization and the Pro Bono Analytics Committee.

For more information about Pro Bono Analytics or if you have any feedback on the program, contact Miles Feldman (

David Hunt chairs the INFORMS Pro Bono Analytics Committee.

INFORMS announces UPS Prize finalists

INFORMS has selected two finalists for the 2018 UPS George D. Smith Prize, which recognizes excellence in preparing students to become practitioners of operations research and analytics.
The 2018 finalists:

  • School of Operations Research and Information Engineering, MEng Programs, Cornell University
  • Haslam College of Business MSBA, University of Tennessee

The winner will be announced on April 16 at the 2018 INFORMS Conference on Business Analytics & Operations Research in Baltimore.

Named in honor of the late UPS chief executive officer – a champion of operations researchers at a leading Fortune 500 corporation – the UPS George D. Smith Prize was created in the spirit of strengthening ties between industry and the schools of higher education that graduate young practitioners of operations research. The prize is awarded to an academic department or program for effective and innovative preparation of students to be good practitioners of operations research or analytics.

Past award recipients include the U.S. Air Force Academy; H. John Heinz III College of Information Systems and Public Policy at Carnegie Mellon University; Sauder School of Business, University of British Columbia - Center for Operations Excellence; MIT Leaders for Global Operations (LGO); Naval Postgraduate School; and the Tauber Institute for Global Operations at the University of Michigan.