INFORMS NEWS: ‘Music City’ tunes up for INFORMS Annual Meeting

By Chanaka Edirisinghe

Nashville, Tenn., home to more than a hundred music venues such as the legendary Ryman Auditorium (right), will host the 2016 INFORMS Annual Meeting on Nov. 13-16. Images courtesy of Nashville  Convention & Visitors Corporation.

Nashville, Tenn., home to more than a hundred music venues such as the legendary Ryman Auditorium (right), will host the 2016 INFORMS Annual Meeting on Nov. 13-16. Images courtesy of Nashville Convention & Visitors Corporation.

Ryman Auditorium

Nashville, Tenn., the Music City, will host the 2016 INFORMS Annual Meeting on Nov. 13-16. While the conference will feature the latest advances in operations research, management sciences and analytics, the host city will offer a sizzling combination of American music, Southern hospitality, unbelievable cuisine and a boundless spectrum of enjoyment.

The technical program includes an exciting array of academic and practitioner invited presentations highlighting several grand challenges facing the world:

  • Advanced computing as the driver of technological transformation of our society through human-machine interface design and in dealing with climate change, fusion energy, nanotechnology and biotechnology. Topic-related presentations include an opening plenary lecture on cognitive computing by Guruduth Banavar, VP and chief science officer at IBM; a keynote lecture by Jeff Nichols, director (NCCS) at Oak Ridge National Laboratory; and an invited cluster on High Performance Computing organized by Deepak Rajan of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory,
  • Precision agriculture that aims to leverage predictive analytics using real-time data on weather, soil and air quality, crop maturity, etc., to meet the challenges in increasing the global food production in the face of rising population, expected to grow up to 9.2 billion by 2050. Topic-related presentations include an invited cluster organized by Robin Lougee of IBM and Joseph Byrum of Syngenta to bring OR/MS to the forefront of this challenge.
  • Healthcare issues that have captivated attention, especially during this U.S. election year, with discussions from both policy-making and informatics perspectives. Topic-related presentations include a keynote lecture by Edmund Jackson, chief data scientist and VP of Healthcare Corporation of America; and an invited cluster on O.R.-informed Healthcare Policies, organized by Diwakar Gupta, University of Minnesota.
  • Exploration of big data and big decisions facing OR/MS researchers and practitioners. Topic-related presentations include a joint plenary lecture by Suvrajeet Sen and Gareth James, University of Southern California; and an invited cluster on Modeling and Methodologies in Big Data, organized by Jiming Peng, University of Houston.
  • Challenges in identifying and mitigating risk in the financial industry under changing regulations, emerging technologies and heightened corporate responsibility. Topic-related presentations include an invited cluster on Risk and Compliance organized by Akhtarur Siddique, deputy director (Enterprise Risk and Analysis), Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, U.S. Dept. of the Treasury.
  • The future of global supply chains and the issue of optimizing their efficiencies. Topic-related presentations include a keynote lecture by Jason Murray, VP of World Wide Retail Systems, Amazon; and the IFORS distinguished keynote lecture on hard practical optimization problems that deal with routing bidirectional traffic by Ralph Möhring, Berlin University of Technology.

But Wait, There’s More …

Other invited clusters will focus on such themes as additive/advanced manufacturing, physical Internet, energy systems management and entertainment analytics. In addition, the conference will offer a unique opportunity to celebrate the Omega-Rho 40th Year Anniversary through a plenary lecture given by an expert panel consisting of Alfred Blumstein (CMU), John Birge (Chicago), Ralph Keeney (Duke) and John Little (MIT).

Throughout the conference, a group of eight academic and six practitioner speakers will give a series of 90-minute tutorial lectures that will be collected as a written volume. The tutorials, a must-make for beginning and advanced researchers alike, will cover the following high-impact research themes:

  • Optimization frontiers: reviews of stochastic optimization as the science of sequential decision-making under uncertainty, with applications to asset-liability management and Markov decision processes; optimal learning when information is expensive; robust multi-objective optimization theory and applications in engineering, business and management.
  • Network modeling: systemic risk due to complex dependence structure of interactions among individual components, including banks, financial services providers and regulators – with tutorials in network sampling, resilience under contagion and analysis under behavior of multiple autonomous agents for online social networks and economic and financial markets.
  • Risk modeling and decisions: review of mathematical finance with emphasis on the need to avoid and rescind destructive deployment of financial risk models; dealing with unstructured data from corporate filings, expert reports and news headlines for financial text mining for risk factors; valuation and hedging of risk in energy portfolios.
  • Big data: reviews of dimension reduction techniques, as well as data access methods for efficient analytics.
  • Healthcare & big projects: review of clinical and health sciences research, rooted in empirical evidence, and the role of analytics in addressing health risks of populations; and an expanded review of research and teaching opportunities in project management, a global economic activity valued at $12 trillion annually.

Last but not least, the conference will include many clusters and tracks organized by the sponsored societies within INFORMS, as well as many contributed presentations. The INFORMS Roundtable, Analytics Society, CPMS, Railway Applications Section and other practice-related INFORMS societies will collaborate on a special practice track, while presentations of the finalists for the Daniel H. Wagner Prize for Excellence in Operations Research Practice will serve as a Tuesday afternoon keynote.

If you have missed the abstract submission deadline for oral presentations, the window is still open to submit poster presentations – either to participate in the poster competition or just to present in one of the poster sessions. These run on Monday and Tuesday from 12:30-2:30 p.m. New this year is the “E-Poster Walk,” an electronic poster displayed digitally. A panel of judges will review the posters entered in the competition and prizes will be awarded the winners.

Something for Everyone

The Annual Meeting will take place in the Music City Center, the recently built state-of-the-art convention center, and the adjacent Nashville Omni Hotel. With many downtown hotels within walking distance to the convention center, the attendees will find suitable accommodations to fit all budgets. We look forward to another record-setting number of more than 5,000 attendees at INFORMS 2016.

I am grateful to the organizing committee members who have steadfastly volunteered to put together a well-orchestrated and comprehensive program for 2016. They are Shabbir Ahmed (invited), James Primbs (plenaries), Aparna Gupta and Agostino Capponi (tutorials), Melissa Bowers and Oleg Shylo (posters), Mingzhou Jin and Sean Willems (practice), James Ostrowski (sponsored), Scott Mason and Justin Yates (contributed), Christine Vossler and Anahita Khojandi (arrangements), and the program chair, Bogdan Bichescu. My special appreciation goes to the highly professional and efficient INFORMS staff members, who are always there to help and guide the organizing committee.

I would be remiss not to mention that Nashville offers everything from an electrifying multi-genre music scene, award-winning cuisine, historic homes, world-class art, a myriad of attractions, unique shopping, college and professional sports and more. There are more than 120 live music venues across the city; you’ll catch pickers and songwriters all over town, in places such as the bluegrass venue Station Inn, the rock venue Exit/In, the honky-tonks on Broadway, the song-centered Bluebird Cafe or the legendary Ryman Auditorium.

Nashville is also home to many attractions, from the Grand Ole Opry to the world-renowned Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. Opened in May 2013, the Johnny Cash Museum and the Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum add to the lineup.

Nashville is also rich in visual and fine arts. The Frist Center for the Visual Arts is housed in an exquisitely converted Art Deco post office, the Cheekwood Botanical Garden and Museum of Art houses an extensive art gallery, and art crawls, studios and art galleries are all around town.

Dubbed “The Coolest, Tastiest City in the South” by Bon Appétit magazine. Nashville’s creative spirit has infiltrated into its kitchens, turning them into chef’s studios. From Southern fare to haute cuisine to quite literally everything in between, Nashville’s palate offers it all.

Simply put, this is an annual meeting you cannot afford to miss. With the usually perfect mild weather expected during the meeting dates, join us at INFORMS-Nashville to share expertise and experiences, work and network toward a brighter future.

For more information, see:

Chanaka Edirisinghe, professor, Lally School of Management, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, is the general chair of the 2016 INFORMS Annual Meeting in Nashville, Tenn.