Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Does software hinder innovation in Operations Research?


I make no secret that I am Open Source advocate. I blog about Open Source software in the Industrial Engineering and Operations Research realm. I also post comments on other blogs in both Open Source and Operations Research about software tools that are free to use and distribute. My reason for doing this is very simple. I want to make others aware of the inherit freedoms and innovation that Open Source software brings to the Industrial Engineering and Operations Research community. I believe there is much to discover and so little available.

There seems to be the haves and have nots in the Operations Research world currently. First, those that have the proprietary software tools to do incredible decision and predictive analysis. Second, those that rely on their education, intuition, and experience with ubiquitous or free software tools to complete the job. Most of my career has fallen in the latter as you can guess. I have made the most of what I was given to complete my work. I believe it is good work yet I know a lot of times it could be even better if I had the right tools.

I'm not bitter that organizations exist to sell their products. I believe there is nothing wrong with that philosophy. Yet I also believe that holding software in a proprietary realm stiffles innovation and advancement. To me software is just a set of rules, instructions, and algorithms. Software is akin to the Pythagorean Theorem or Little's Law. Where would we be today if Sir Isaac Newton had copyrighted calculus? Just as the Reinassance Era was a boom to modern thinking I believe the Free Libre and Open Source Software era can be a boom to new innovative ideas.

A lot of people are debating the merits of this today. There is an excellent example this week with Amazon's release of Kindle 2. Tim O'Reilly, of O'Reilly publishing fame, debates the merits of closing the source to the Kindle 2 and feels it should be opened. Yet Matt Asay at CNET feels Amazon should stick to their guns of being a content provider and push forward with being a proprietary system. They both have merit. To me opening the Kindle can still give Amazon its value as a content provider but also leverage the community to help generate new innovative ideas. This is a very interesting debate on the basis of core competecies versus innovation to new market trends. Only time will tell but to me the e-book will more than likely go the way of the World Wide Web as Tim O'Reilly pointed out.

Jim Orlin has a really interesting post on what Operations Research professionals should know and how will they learn it? Jim brings up good points about being subject matter experts in all knowledgable areas of Operations Research. A lot of times the Operations Research analyst is going to have to learn on the job. How are we to provide those resources and tools that they need on a continual basis?

Again only time will tell if the Operations Research realm is hindered by not opening software. I believe we are on the precipice of great things to come. The current recession has brought new thinking and demand to decision analysis. There is definitely greater appreciation for us "statisticians".

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

As a long-time optimization practitioner, I would love to see the basic tools (LP and MIP solver) be under a relaxed, BSD-like license (e.g. like apache).

COIN-OR, for example,
is under the IBM-CPL license thats got some legal fine print that makes it difficult for companies to adopt. The remaining opensource OR software are far more
restrictive. IBM can perhaps make COIN available under a more relaxed license? heck, they have CPLEX now!

companies can implement their proprietary customized 'meta' algorithm based on these basic tools and in return provide enhancements to these tools that the OR community can benefit from.

- shiva

pressure vessels said...

What a nice blog. Very informativre and very helpful.

barricas said...

Thanks Sir, it’s better now. I used it on one of my newest projects and i love it. Thanks. barricas

Vashikaran Prediction said...

Nice article it is . Thanks for share it . I like this information .keep posting.
vashikaran specialist
vashikaran love spell
Vashikaran Mantra in hindi
Vashikaran Mantra for love
Black Magic Specialist
Vashikaran Astrologer
Love problem solution
Love marriage specialist
Vashikaran Mantra for Husband
Vashikaran by kamakhya sindur

astrologer vinodkumar said...

Great ! It very nice or informative post . I like it . Thanks to share this information.
Vashikaran Specialist
Vashikaran Mantra
Vashikaran Specialist Baba
Blackmagic Specialist
Lost love Back Solution
Love Marriage Specialist
Love Guru Specialist

Online Vashikaran said...

Nice post ! Thanks for share it .
vashikaran specialist In Kolkata
Blackmagic Specialist In Kolkata

Love Guruindia said...

Great work done in this post. Interesting Content. I like it . Thanks for share it .
Vashikaran Mantra In Hindi
Love Marriage Specialist
World Famous Astrologer
Vashikaran Marriage Love Spell
Vashikaran Mantra
Vashikaran Specialist Baba
Black Magic Specialist

astrologer guruinindia said...

Great Article ! Thanks for share this kind of information.
Love Marriage Problem Solution By Vashikaran Mantra
Love Marriage Vashikaran Specialist
Love Vashikaran Specialist Astrologer
Husband Wife Relationship Problem Solution Baba Ji
Lost Love Back By Astrology
Vashikaran Mantra For Love Marriage Specialist
Love Vashikaran Specialist Astrologer
Vashikaran Specialist Baba Ji

Raghavendra Astro said...

The post is extremely useful. It is a joy understanding it. I have additionally bookmarked you for looking at new posts.

Indian Astrologers London | Indian Astrologer in London | Famous Indian Astrologer in London