Monday, September 30, 2013

Politics of Sustainability -- India and China

The title of the talk -- Politics of Sustainability -- intrigued me and it was heavily promoted on the UMass Amherst website, so I gathered two of my doctoral students, one from China and the other from India, and off we went to hear former United Nations policy advisor Mukul Sanwal speak on climate change and sustainability. His talk was under the auspices of the political science department at UMass and Five Colleges, Inc.
Mr. Sanwal worked for the United Nations from 1993 to 2007, serving first as a policy advisor to the executive director of United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and later to the executive secretary of United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Given that the IPCC just produced its Fifth Assessment report, and it has been getting a lot of attention in the media, his topic was especially timely.
Sanwal began his talk by stating that what India and China will do will frame the future. He emphasized the shifting of the population from being producers to being consumers and noted that the global middle class will triple by 2030. He noted that the climate crisis is caused by the scarcity of resources, or the distribution of resources, and sees the problem as one to be managed, and not solved -- I thought this rather pessimistic but very much appreciated his emphasis on conservation and the importance of altering the behavior of consumers. We need to have better ways of measuring carbon imprints and environmental impacts on the consumption side.

In terms of economic development, we are seeing major migrations to urban areas, especially in China and India, and urban design for sustainability is critical. The population was 1.6 billion in 1900 and will increase to 9 billion in 2050. The urban population was 30% (of 2.5 billion) in 1950 and will be 70% (of 9 billion) in 2050. Economies are now driven by the services sector and not just industry.

It is expected that the transport sector will generate half of the global emissions by 2050.

We need to educate the population about changes in lifestyle and, where feasible, also have the right legislation.

Changing behavior is not easy and society needs to agree that changes need to be made. And we can make the changes through the food that we eat, the homes that we live in, and the modes of transport that we use as well as the products that we buy.

We need a common vision for human welfare (and that of our planet).

Ken Toong, our award-winning Executive Director (and chef) of Auxiliary Enterprises, was also in the audience, and he made some great comments on what his group is doing in sustainability in terms of reducing food waste in the dining commons and also serving red meat infrequently. He is in the blue shirt in the photo above.

Lots of ideas were generated -- thanks to Mr. Mukul Sanwal for sharing his experiences and wisdon with us today.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Brilliant Lecture by Dr. Robert Shumsky of Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth

Today, we had the distinct honor and pleasure of hearing Dr. Robert Shumsky of the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth present the lecture, "Frenemies: Price Competition between Codesharing Airlines," as part of the Isenberg School Dean's Lecture Series at UMass Amherst. He presented this airline codeshare work which was done with Sandra Transchel of the KLU:

In the morning, Dr. Shumsky met with faculty and our doctoral students and, after lunch at the University Club, which is in a building dating to 1728, regaled us with his research. In his talk, he discussed his modeling work of two codesharing airlines that operate parallel flights, flight legs between the same origin and destination that operate roughly at the same time. Because the flights are close substitutes the airlines are competing for many of the same customers. You can probably think of some international flights that you have considered that fit these assumptions. 

He discussed his dynamic game theory model, under which each codeshare partner dynamically adjusts the prices for seats on its own flight as well as seats on its partner's flight. He contrasted a single time period solution with a multiperiod one with the latter having some fascinating results -- I'll keep you in suspense.

I very much appreciated his incredible energy and interactions with the audience and that he also emphasized the importance of theory -- something I emphasize in my doctoral courses at the Isenberg School and even spoke of the existence and uniqueness of solutions of the Nash equilibrium problem(s).

His talk generated many interesting questions because who does not like to get great prices on international flights?! One question from a doctoral student from South Africa was about how a business class ticket he had booked on Iberia which code shares with British Airways could be $1,500 versus $3,000 and to complicate matters further Finnair also codeshares with the latter.

The photos below were taken today -- I do not take credit for the first "tipsy" one.

Dr. Shumsky also told me the story of how he came to study Operations Research (O.R.) for his PhD at MIT -- Jon Caulkins of CMU, who was then at MIT,  deserves credit for this. What is so great about O.R.
is its applications, which really puts math into action and practice!

Network Economics of Cyber Crime

I have been working on network economics with interfaces to various applications for quite a while, with the first edition of my book on the topic being published twenty years ago!
About two years ago, we were approached to submit a proposal to the Advanced Cyber Security Center, which was soliciting proposals for its Prime the Pump Initiative and our project, Cybersecurity Risk Analysis and Investment Optimization, was funded.

Our project team is interdisciplinary, and consists of Professors Wayne Burleson of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Mila Getmansky Sherman of Finance, Senay Solak, and yours truly of the Operations & Information Management Department, of the Isenberg School of Management, and Chris Misra, of the OIT Department -- all of us at UMass Amherst.

The Project Synopsis:

The vision of this project was to develop:

  • rigorous models for cybersecurity risk,
  • models for costs and benefits of various cybersecurity technologies,
  • techniques for integrating  these models into higher level models that account for other risks and risk management expenditures.
I will be presenting an aspect of our research project at INFORMS Minneapolis in the presentation entitled: Network Economics of Cyber Crime with Applications to Financial Service Organizations.

 The presentation can be downloaded here.

The invitation to submit a paper to the invited session came from Dr. Alla Kammerdiner, whom I met at a marvelous conference in Yalta, Ukraine.

The session information is here.

Dr. Kammerdiner I wrote about earlier in this blog -- she had run the Boston Marathon that was the site for the terrorist attack last April 15.

Another presentation on our project, from a broader perspective, can be accessed here.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Financial Networks -- Special Issue of Computational Management Science

I received a lovely message the other day from a Springer editor which said:

Dear Anna,

I just received my copy of the special issue on “Financial Networks” of Computational Management Science. I am impressed by the excellent outcome, and I would like to thank you very much for this outstanding piece of work. I am definitely convinced that this special issue will help the journal in its positive development and in the task to position itself as a journal of superior quality.

Once more my compliments and thankfulness for your collaboration.

With best wishes,


Christian Rauscher
Senior Editor, Business/Economics

How very thoughtful and how much appreciated was the above message. And I do concur, I think that the special issue is really great and below I display the cover of the journal double volume.

My editorial on this special issue can be accessed here. The list of papers and abstracts can be found here. What I especially like about this double volume is that it includes papers by both practitioners and academics and it is so nice to see that research on Financial Networks is continuing to fascinate!

As we say in academia, it may take a while, but good research rises to the top!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Google Scholar -- The Swedes Made Me Do it and Why It Is Worth It

Readers of my blog know how much I LOVED being a Visiting Professor at the School of Business, Economics and Law at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, where I spent several months last year, as part of my sabbatical.

I seem to get my "muse" in Europe and, especially, in Sweden, where I have written several books. Perhaps it is due to the culture, the beauty, the people, the history, quality of life, the food, and the history. Also, it does not hurt, that Gothenburg (Goteborg in Swedish) was voted in the top 15 most inventive cities in the world, based on the number of patents granted per population -- two other cities in Sweden -- Stockholm and Malmo -- also made this list (as did Boston in good old Massachusetts, which also made me happy). Eindhoven in The Netherlands was tops.

I heard from one of my wonderful colleagues in Gothenburg this morning, Professor Jonas Floden, and that inspired me to write this post that I have been ruminating on for a while.

Last summer, while in Gothenburg, I received the following message from my senior, fabulous colleague, Professor Johan Woxenius:

Dear all,

As part of the evaluation of the transport research we do together with Chalmers, from which you are funded, we use our librarians to analyse our scientific outcome. We get info about your publications from the library´s database GUP, but to analyse citations we have chosen to use Google Scholar that is comparatively inclusive in its search for publications and citations.

In order to facilitate the librarians work but even more for you not having to manually submit all publications and citations in the yearly survey, all researchers need to register at Google Scholar. For instance, we want to follow the progress in our collective h-index and i10 index. That’s why I have send you an invitation through Google Scholar.

The registration process is very simple, but you need to check that your publications are really yours, that they are all there and if any are registered as different publications lowering your stats.

For me it was very simple due to my unusual name and that I keep rather good track of my publications, I think it was only one publication that was registered as two different. It might be a bit more toilsome if you have a very common name. Anyway, when I searched for your names, there were not many registered researchers with the same names.  

Personally, I find Google Scholar very useful and it is particularly interesting to see who cites my work and of course pleasant to receive alerts of new citations!

Please let me know when you have registered so I do not have to remind you.

So, I signed up for Google Scholar, and it is fun to see which of your publications are cited the most and also the trends. My books tend to be the most highly cited

Of course, there are other ways of tracking your publications, but this one is for free and, although there has been criticism levied, and there can be some "gaming" done, you do get a good idea of which of your publications are being cited. 

Also, it is interesting to see your h-index and i10-index and what surprised me is that quite a few faculty now include these "metrics" on their webpages and even cv's.

And, just this week, I found out, through Google Scholar alerts, that one of my papers written with Dr. June Dong, "Financial Networks and Optimally-Sized Portfolios," published in Computational Economics, has been cited in a patent granted to HP! The patent, System and Method for Selecting a Portfolio,  also cited a paper by Dr. Dorit Hochbaum, well-known in operations research -- how cool is this!

Two other papers of mine, also co-authored with females, Dr. June Dong, Dr. Pat Mokhtarian, and Dr. Tina Wakolbinger, and supported by an NSF grant, have also been cited in 3 other granted patents.

Women in Operations Research and the Management Sciences (WORMS) Events at INFORMS Minneapolis

Are you excited about the upcoming Annual INFORMS Conference in Minneapolis, October 6-9, 2013?

I certainly am as are my colleagues who will be going and, of course, our students, who will be presenting.

The Annual INFORMS Conference serves as an outstanding scientific and professional conference plus a great social one -- for many of my former doctoral students this is where we hold one of our annual reunions.

And, among our favorite activities and events (for both males and females alike), are the events organized by the Women in Operations Research and the Management Sciences (WORMS) Forum.

Below is a flier prepared by Dr. Susan Martonosi to highlight our activities at INFORMS Minneapolis. You can click on the image below to get an expanded view.

Something new this year, is the Speed Networking event on Tuesday afternoon, cosponsored by the Junior Faculty Interest Group and the Minority Issues Forum.

Hope to see many of you at the great WORMS events and others soon n beautiful Minneapolis!

Friday, September 20, 2013

Operations Research and Healthcare with Dr. Hari Balasubramanian

As I mentioned in my previous post, with the new academic year upon us there are also many great events, including talks by speakers!

A wonderful colleague of ours, Professor Hari Balasubramanian, who was recently awarded an NSF CAREER Award, and with whom I had the pleasure of helping to organize the first Northeast Regional INFORMS Conference, which took place at UMass Amherst, will be giving what is sure to be a fascinating talk next week.

More information is on the flier below.

I hope that you can join us -- there is so much exciting research going on at the frontiers of Operations Research  (O.R.) and healthcare and this is an application where we Do Good with Great O.R.!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Dr. Robert Shumsky of Dartmouth to Speak in Isenberg School Dean's Lecture Series Seminar

The Fall is always such an exciting time on college campuses with the start of the new academic year and with all the accompanying activities including special events and guest speakers.

On September 27, 2013, the Isenberg School of Management at UMass Amherst will be hosting Dr. Robert Shumsky of Dartmouth. Dr. Shumsky received a BA, magna cum laude, in Applied Math, from Harvard, and an MS and PhD in Operations Research from MIT.
The notice is below. Special thanks to my colleague, Professor Senay Solak, for many of the arrangements!

We hope that some of you can join us for his talk.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Great News for the UMass Amherst INFORMS Student Chapter

I woke up very early this morning and the messages in my inbox were wonderful:

Dear University of Massachusetts at Amherst Chapter Officers and Advisors,

Congratulations! The Chapters/Fora Committee is delighted to notify you that your chapter is a winner of the Magna Cum Laude INFORMS Student Chapter Annual Award. The purpose of these awards is to recognize the achievements of our strongest student chapters. Formerly student chapter awards were presented at the Chapters/Fora Breakfast, but this year for the first time we have planned a special Student Awards Ceremony. It will take place prior to the Student Reception at the INFORMS Annual Meeting in Minneapolis on Monday, October 7, 7:30 p.m. in the Hilton Hotel.

If you are planning to attend the meeting, we hope you will join us and be recognized at this event. If you cannot attend, we will mail the award to you.

Thank you for your commitment to INFORMS student chapters!

Best regards,
Olga Raskina
VP for Chapters/Fora  

Plus, I received the following message, which was copied to me:

Dear Amir,

On behalf of the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences, I am delighted to inform you that you have been selected by the Chapters/Fora Committee to receive the Judith Liebman Award. The purpose of this award is to recognize volunteers who have made outstanding and sustained contributions to their student chapters. We congratulate you, and want you to know that your active participation in INFORMS affairs will always be welcome.

We hope you will be able to join us to celebrate this achievement Student Awards Ceremony. It will take place prior to the Student Reception at the INFORMS Annual Meeting in Minneapolis on Monday, October 7, 7:30 p.m. in the Hilton Hotel. These awards were formerly presented at the Chapters/Fora Breakfast. You will receive an invitation to attend that event as well.

Congratulations, again, and thank you for your contribution to INFORMS.

Best regards,

Olga Raskina
VP for Chapters/Fora

Amir is Amir H. Masoumi and he is my former doctoral student. He is now an Assistant Professor at Manhattan College. I nominated Amir for this award since he worked tirelessly on the chapter's activities over many years as a doctoral student at the Isenberg School of Management.

As the Faculty Advisor to the UMass Amherst INFORMS Student Chapter, this recognition (the 7th in as many years) means a tremendous amount to the students. 

Also, Amir is my third former doctoral student to be recognized with the Judith Liebman Award, with Professor Tina Wakolbinger (now of the Vienna University of Economics and Business) and Professor Patrick Qiang of Penn State Malvern, being the others.

Judith Liebman was a classmate of my dissertation advisor, Professor Stella Dafermos, and these two females were pioneers in Operations Research.

Congrats to all the students who are being recognized by INFORMS this year and thanks to INFORMS for support of students!
More information on the UMass Amherst INFORMS Student Chapter, whose members come from the Isenberg School of Management, the College of Engineering, and other departments at UMass Amherst, can be found on its website:

Monday, September 16, 2013

Photos from the Fabulous Supply Chain Workshop in Switzerland

Yes, it was a whirlwind trip -- I flew from Boston to Zurich on September 10 and returned yesterday, September 15, with new research ideas, great new contacts, and visual scenes and experiences that were simply fabulous.

Below, I present, in photos, some of the highlights. The purpose of my trip was to deliver the talk Networks Against Time: From Food to Pharma at the Workshop on Supply Chain Vulnerability and Resilience. The Workshop was organized by the ETH Risk Center and the Zurich Insurance Group.

The view from my room at the Zurich Development Center (ZDC) (Lake Zurich and the Alps with the green landscape in the foreground):
Some of the art displayed at the ZDC, which was a former sanitarium and where Bircher invented bircher muesli -- delicious -- soccer fans will appreciate the photos, I am sure:

 Some photos from the conference:

 Scenes outside the workshop venue:
Thanks to the organizers of this Supply Chain Workshop for such an extraordinary workshop in a perfect venue!

Friday, September 13, 2013

Fabulous Workshop on Supply Chain Vulnerability and Resilience in Switzerland

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the organizers of the Workshop on Vulnerability and Resilience of Supply Chains, which concluded today in gorgeous Zurich, Switzerland. The venue was the Zurich Insurance Company building and the invited speakers were put up at the Zurich Development Center. My room has a balcony with a view of the lake and mountains. The breakfasts are spectacular (the location is where bircher muesli was invented) and, of course, so are the chocolate and the cuisine.

This two day workshop with representatives from academia, companies, and government, has been filled not only with great talks, but with lively discussions on supply chain management, supply chain risk management, systemic risk, various methodologies, applications, and, of course, insurance. I have been so impressed by the freedom of discussion and the intellectual exchanges. The research ideas are flowing.

I took copious notes and have enjoyed meeting folks from pharmaceutical companies, Zurich Insurance Group, consultants, representatives from rail companies, academics from the US, Germany, and Switzerland, and even the head of security of the Frankfurt Airport. There were representatives from 5 continents.

I have collected numerous business cards and just the job descriptions and titles will fascinate my students. 

In this day and age, companies must pay attention to their supply chains and to supply chain risk.

And, for those of you who know him, Yossi Sheffi of MIT, the author of The Resilient Enterprise, spoke yesterday. On Wednesday evening, I was the only female at the dinner, so a Swiss gentleman assumed that I was the spouse, and Yossi's wife, in particular -- we had a good laugh about this. I was the only invited female speaker but I did my best. The social events were fabulous -- there was even a dinner cruise on Lake Zurich. So great to see companies understanding the value of network representations of supply chains, a theme I have explored in three of my most recent books. Discussions on vulnerability, resilience, and robustness and appropriate definitions were also very illuminating. There were very smart and very interesting people here and it was GREAT. 

Here's my presentation, Networks Against Time: From Food to Pharma


Sunday, September 8, 2013

Some of the First Years Had Never Had a Female Professor -- Gender Inequality at Harvard Business School

I was busy trying to finish writing a research paper, before putting final touches on a lecture together plus completing a presentation on supply chains that I will be giving later this week in Zurich, Switzerland, and that my hosts wanted a copy of two days ago.

My husband distracted me by saying: "you must read this -- the article is unbelievable." He was referring to the front page article in today's New York Times, "Harvard Case Study: Gender Equity," by Jodi Kantor, which then proceeds to an additional 2 full pages!.

The article is on gender issues at the elite Harvard Business School (HBS).

The article has some striking (not positive) statistics, some of which I proceeded to verify and found on the Harvard Business School (HBS) website that, indeed, there are are only 19 female Full Professors and 76 male ones at HBS.


2012-2013 Male Female Total
Professors 76 19 95
Baker Foundation Professors 6 0 6
Professors of Management Practice 15 2 17
Associate Professors 28 12 40
Assistant Professors 30 16 46
Visiting Faculty 3 0 3
Other Teaching Appointments 38 5 43
Other Research Appointments 8 2 10
Total Faculty 204 56 260
On Leave 4 0 4

 The article describes what has been deemed  a two year experiment at HBS to do a "gender makeover, by changing its curriculum, rules and social rituals to foster female success."
Leading the charge has been the relatively new dean of HBS, Dr. Nitin Nohria, who, I might add, has a PhD from the Sloan School at MIT and is the father of two daughters, with assistance provided by Dr. Frances Frei, who is an Operations Management Professor, with a PhD from Wharton. I have tried to get Professor Frei to come and speak at the Isenberg School, but reading this article, I can see why she has been justifiably too busy to accept the invitation.
Several of my former undergraduate Operations Management students at the Isenberg School have gone on to receive MBAs from HBS and, since I was a Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study Fellow, I am officially a Harvard alum, so this article was very painful for me to read.
I have written, on several occasions, on this blog about MBA gender inequities. including that of salaries and The New York Times article had the illuminating graphic below, which shows how the gender MBA salary gap increases post graduation.

Part of the gender problem is that there is an insufficient number of female faculty in the pipeline and some have left for such reasons as, according to The Times: uncertainty over maternity leave, a lack of opportunity to write papers with senior professors and students who destroyed confidence by pelting them with math questions they could not answer on the spot or commenting on what they wore.

The filled circles in the graphic above represent tenured faculty. Among the females I could identify as one of the circles (filled in) above is a fellow Brown University classmate of mine, Professor Janice Hammond, who received her PhD from the Sloan School and whose dissertation advisor at MIT was Tom Magnanti. Her dissertation was on variational inequalities, as was mine at Brown. Jan lived on my floor freshman year. So, yes, women can be very good at math and love it, despite what the article says! Tom Davenport, in his best-selling book, Keeping Up with the Quants, mentions Jan. Jan was also an Applied Math major at Brown with me. She, as Frances Frei, has published in operations research and management science journals.

Many females love equations and are very good at them and are faculty at business schools! Is Harvard scared of some of them?!

Notice, from the above graphic, that only 1 female has been tenured at HBS in the last decade!

Harvard hired stenographers (are we going back to the 1950s?) to take notes in classes since 50% of the course grades at HBS are due to class participation and data was needed to back up who was speaking up  in class and why female students were consistently getting lower grades although  female students were great on exams. Also, Harvard "taught" females to raise their hands -- honestly, I find this rather strange -- this is needed by the students who get into HBS?

Princeton Review consistently ranks the Isenberg School of Management at UMass Amherst where I teach as one of the top schools for Greatest Opportunities for Women -- perhaps HBS can learn from us!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Information on the Network Frontier Workshop at Northwestern University

Nothing is cooler or more fascinating than Networks!

When I received the invitation from Professor Motter of Northwestern University to speak at the upcoming 2013 Network Frontier Workshop, I had to accept. 

Professor Motter recently received the Erdos-Renyi Prize in Network Science, so congratulations are also in order!

I like the workshop poster and am featuring it above to generate more interest.  The website is now live.

For all of you who love the interdisciplinary unifying power of networks, I hope that you can join us!

The below from the poster announcement is captivating!

The Network Frontier Workshop 2013  is a three-day event highlighting leading-edge research on complex networks. Participants working on innovative aspects of complex systems will communicate recent results and ideas relevant to fields as diverse as brain, climate, and socio-technological research. Sessions will include theory and applications of nonlinear dynamics and statistical physics in the context of synchronization, cascades, transportation, control, and failure recovery in complex dynamical systems.

The Joy of Revising a Scientific Research Paper

The title of this blogpost is neither an oxymoron nor satirical.

I really mean that one can find joy and, perhaps, even pleasure, in revising a scientific research paper of yours.

Of course, prior to submission of the original paper to a journal you thought, as did your co-authors,  that the paper that you all labored on for many weeks or months and, sometimes, even years (although, hopefully not to the exclusion of everything else), was "perfect." You found the results original and noteworthy and well-argued and presented. And, with Latex, you even made the paper "look good" with illuminating and captivating figures, tables, and results!

The journal Editor handled your paper expeditiously and, before you knew it, although sometimes the waiting seems like an eternity, you were reading the referees' reports from the anonymous peer reviewers of your paper.

Sometimes, when I revise a paper, I do feel like a lawyer in that one has to argue the validity of one's case (and innocence, of course).  And I get satisfaction in revising a paper according to (good) reviewers' reports that offer constructive criticism and insights.

Also, in revising a paper, one sometimes can better clarify the contributions. These may be apparent to you, the authors, but should also be clear to the readers of your paper.

I, typically, unless its a minor revision or accept as is (have, amazingly, had a few of those), will first read the reports and then ruminate over them over several days, during which my mind percolates as to the strategy associated with the revision.

Then I sit down, and, if the paper is co-authored, discuss with my colleagues, as to the strategy of how we will revise and address the reviewers' concerns.

It is very satisfying (at least to me and, I am sure, to others), when you work very hard on revising the paper and the pieces all fall into place.

The revised paper comes out stronger and better than the original and everyone learns and benefits from the process.

One resubmits the revised paper to the journal, along with the accompanying responses to reviewers, which itemize the changes made.

And, then hopefully, the story has a happy ending, and you hear good news, in time, that the paper is now accepted (or maybe just a minor revision, easily handled, is required).

The scientific process is iterative and doing one's best, whether in conducting the research, writing it up, revising and resubmitting the revisions to journals, etc., brings joy!

And, remember, even Nobel Prize winners have had some of their (eventually, best-known) papers, initially rejected for publication (sometimes multiple times)!