Friday, October 30, 2009

IBM to open health analytics center in Dallas

IBM is opening a Health Analytics Solution Center in Dallas, TX as announced by the Dallas Morning News. It will employ 100 analytics and technology consultants in the regional area.

This is an interesting deal for Dallas as it may have ramifications for EDS and Perot Systems, Dell's new aquisition, which are both based in the Dallas area.

Yet from an Operations Research and Analytics point of view the most interesting excerpt from the article is this...

IBM did not specify how much it would invest in Dallas, but it plans to invest more than $10 billion companywide to build its capabilities around business analytics. As part of the plan, the company expects to retrain or hire up to 4,000 new analytics consultants globally.

IBM's Business Analytics and Optimization segment is expected to grow at around 10 percent this year, and to between 15 and 20 percent from 2010 onward, accounting for more than $2 billion in sales in 2010, Haswell said.

The field of Analytics and Operations Research is definitely growing which is a good sign. If IBM's projections are accurate than they could be perhaps the premier Analytics and Operations Research company worldwide. This is a trend by IBM that was seen early this year as it acquired ILOG. As a whole for Operations Research and Business Analytics it seems this is a good time to be in the field.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Operations Researcher predicts Yankees to win World Series

Bruce Buckiet of NJIT predicts that the Yankees are going to win the World Series as covered by Science Daily. Bruce's model predicts a 70 percent chance that the Yankees will beat the Phillies. You can follow Bruce's predictions on his website Bruce has game to game predictions for the best of seven series including the probably outcomes of each possible starting pitcher.

Baseball is no stranger to Operations Research. Michael Trick is a member of the Sports Scheduling Group that assists MLB in scheduling their games for the past three years.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

IBM to use Operations Research for war on terror

According to a report from BusinessWeek IBM has won a contract with the U.S. Special Operations Command to apply their analytical analysis. There is a long standing of tradition of the U.S. military using Operations Research to help optimize its operations, as the article alludes.

More interestingly that this article demonstrates is that IBM is increasingly becoming a go-to company for Operations Research services. This no doubt is an objective of IBM as a whole with their recent ILOG aquisition. I would be willing to bet that there will be more interesting news from IBM in the future.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The perils of a data-driven culture at Google has an article about Google's culture of being data-driven decision making and its affect on the visual and user experience teams. In fact it had such a big affect on the former Visual Design Lead, Douglas Bowman, he left the company. Techradar interviews Google's Director of User Experience Irene Au. Irene explains the importance of data and how Google's culture emphasizes experimentation which may rub some designers the wrong way.

I've never really thought of being a data-driven culture could have its drawbacks. As an analyst I see only the merits of having data. But there are people who like to think way outside the box and not agree with me. This could be a good thing to learn as an Operations Research practitioner. There are definitely some soft-skills we could learn to help implement our data-driven ideas in our respective organizations.

There is one thing that I didn't agree with from Irene Au in the article. Here's here quote from the article...

"That's why we have a significant team of designers who bring unique skills to the teams they work with. Data informs decision-making but it's less useful for conceiving and building conceptually new directions. It's most useful for optimising and refining an established concept."
While I agree it's good to get other people's ideas to the table I do not agree on how data is less useful for conceiving and building new concepts. Maybe I'm taking her a little out of context but I could argue how data can help shape new ideas of thinking. I've done that a lot in my career. In fact the whole field of data mining pretty much defines this as their objective.

I definitely think there could be things to learn from examining the cultures of the organizations we work. Implementing Operations Research ideas and recommendations can be difficult. Perhaps it takes examining our organization and finding how others define optimality.

Thursday, October 8, 2009 reviews Sage

Here is a good online review by of the mathematical software project Sage. There is definitely a trend now in open source mathematical software that is getting recognition outside of the mathematic and Operations Research communities.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Understanding economies with video games?

Reuters has an article about a research study being conducted to study virtual economies in video games. Now these games are not your Pac-man's or even the newer Halo varieties. These games are massively mutli-player worlds that connect thousands of game players from all over the world in a virtual universe. A lot of these massive online games, also know as MMORPGs (massive multi-player online role-playing games) have an intricate trading economy included as part of the game itself. One researcher, Edward Castronova, is studying the economies of these games and how it compares to real world economies.

These massive online games can be a seen as a model of real world implementation. One thing Operations Research analysts need is data and these types of online games could provide a lot of information. Perhaps an augmented reality could be modeled in these games to provide experimentation and research into areas of Operations Research. One example is in the case of sampling plans. Often times inspecting and sampling requires destruction of the item to be inspected. Sampling plans can reduce that destruction requirement but what if no destruction is needed at all. Perhaps a simulated world could "produce" the said item and data could be taken from this simulated production process.

On a different note the gaming business (which is a multi-billion dollar market) could learn some from Operations Research work. The mathematics involved in developing these massive games is getting more and more complicated. The games are more and more relying on physics, statistics, predictive analysis, and optimized outcomes.

I've talked about having fun in Operations Research before yet this could be on a much bigger scale and could be research focused. I'm not the first one to think of Operations Research and virtual gaming. Paul Jensen, of Jensen's Operations Research Models and Methods website fame, has a Second Life implementation of his popular instructional website.

Friday, October 2, 2009 comments on INFORMS 2009 San Diego meeting has an interesting descriptive article about the upcoming 2009 INFORMS meeting in San Diego. The article goes on to describe an overview of the event and the merits of Operations Research. It's nice to see outreach like this in the math and sciences community. I hope to see more upcoming news on the event.