The State of CMU INFORMS in 2016

(Originally posted at the CMU INFORMS website).

A lot of great things happened in 2016 at CMU INFORMS. Since we already compiled all of that for the annual report to INFORMS, we are sharing it publicly in the hope that other chapters find it useful and share back with us, just like we did with 2015 activities.


We launched the seminar series Industry Leaders in Analytics in partnership with the MBA Data Analytics club, which sponsored receptions after the talks. We first brought Steve Sashihara through the INFORMS Speakers Program and later Sebastian Ceria.

Princeton Consultants CEO Steve Sashihara came in April to present “The Executive’s Guide to Optimization”.


Axioma CEO and CMU PhD alumnus Sebastian Ceria came in September to present “What’s in a Name? In the Case of Smart Beta, It’s Hard to Tell”.


Both talks were preceded by an informal gathering with PhD students and followed by a happy hour with all attendees.

We also launched the academic seminar series Research & Analytics @ CMU with the goal of presenting research done at CMU in an accessible language to undergraduate students, thanks to input from our undergraduate officer Michael Rosenberg. Our first speaker was Prof. Mor Harchol-Balter (School of Computer Science) in September.


We also invited Prof. John Birge (The University of Chicago) for an academic seminar through the INFORMS Speakers Program in November. Prof. Birge met with PhD students for dinner on the night before and to talk about research after his seminar.


The publication of our 2015 review ignited an amazing exchange of ideas among INFORMS chapters. Similar reviews were later published by the chapters from University of Massachussets-Amherst and University of Michigan. We also were approached by officers of other chapters at the Annual Meeting that found helpful advice in our posts. These exchanges also made us realized how much we could benefit from the Speakers Program.

While many conversations happened in the halls, INFORMS helped us connect too. Here is a picture of the student chapter officers meeting after the chapters and fora breakfast:


These breakfasts and meetings happen every year on Tuesday mornings. If you are an officer attending the next Annual Meeting in Houston, show up and take a seat!

At that meeting in Nashville, our chapter was awarded the Summa Cum Laude Award for our activities in 2015, the highest distinction granted by INFORMS to student chapters.


We also had a short piece on our student-led seminars in the most recent issue of ORMS Tomorrow. Other chapters have also implemented this program recently: University of Michigan launched theirs in September 2016 and University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in January 2017.


We extended our most successful initiatives from 2015. We held another 2 joint happy hours with the INFORMS chapter at the University of Pittsburgh. Interestingly, the attendance at these happy hours is growing exponentially: from about 10 people in Fall 2015, we got 20 in Spring 2016 and 40 in Fall 2016. The latest one had a better venue and improved organization thanks to our new officer Neda Mirzaeian.

It is not clear at this point if the exponential trend will persist, but we can always hope!

We also increased the number of student-led discussion dinners in 15%. That was only possible thanks to the continuous effort of Siddharth Singh. Here are the list of talks:

02/01 – Yang Jiao: Student question posets
02/08 – Thiago Serra: Sound decision diagrams: a .zip file of near-optimal solutions
02/15 – Dabeen Lee: On some polytopes contained in the 0,1 hypercube that have a small Chvatal rank
02/22 – Nam Ho-Nguyen: Second-order Conic Formulation of the Trust Region Subproblem
02/29 – Stelios Despotakis: Attribution models in marketing
03/21 – Tarek Elgindy: Topics in AC optimal power flow
04/04 – Gerdus Benade: Formulating a branching dual
04/11 – Aleksandr Kazachkov: Small representations for large kidney exchange graphs
04/25 – Thiago Serra: Reformulating the Disjunctive Cut Generating Linear Program
05/09 – Siddharth Singh: Net Metering Policies for PV solar electricity
05/16 – Dabeen Lee: Optimizing over the Chvatal Closure of a 0,1 Polytope is NP-Hard
05/23 – Bo Yang, Franco Berbeglia, and Mehmet Aydemir: Summer paper proposals
08/15 – Thiago Serra and Siddharth Singh: MOPTA practice talks
09/14 – Arash Hadadan, Gerdus Benade, and Nam HO-Nguyen: OR summer paper practice talks 1
09/19 – Bo Yang, Franco Berbeglia, and Mehmet Berat Aydemir: OM summer paper practice talks
09/28 – Amin Hosseini, Dabeen Lee, and Ryo Kimura: OR summer paper practice talks 2
10/10 – Thiago Serra and Siddharth Singh: Summer internship experiences 1
10/19 – Jeremy Karp, Ryo Kimura, and Yang Jiao: Summer internship experiences 2
10/31 – Siddharth Singh: That’s not fair – Tariff structures for electricity markets with rooftop solar
11/07 – Abhinav Maurya, Siddarth Singh, and Thiago Serra: INFORMS practice talks 1
11/09 – Gerdus Benade, Amin Hosseini, and Leela Nageswaran: INFORMS practice talks 2
11/30 – Siddarth Singh, and Thiago Serra: INFORMS Combined Colloquia
12/05 – Ahmad Abdi (U. Waterloo): Ideal clutters that do not pack

We have also increased the number of review sessions in anticipation of important talks:

01/21 – Laci Babai (The University of Chicago)
01/29 – Nina Balcan (CMU)
02/05 – Javier Pena (CMU)
02/26 – Yanjun Li (Purdue University)
03/04 – Andrea Lodi (Polytechnique Montreal)
04/08 – Rakesh Vohra (University of Pennsylvania)
12/09 – John Birge (The University of Chicago)


We found good sources of funding. We successfully pitched the doctoral program for $1,500 and obtained another $1,000 from student government funding.

Our MBA officers have contributed to make the chapter more professional in a variety of ways. Former secretary David Sandora led the reformulation of our bylaws and helped us develop a mission, vision, goals, and more tangible roles for the officer positions prior to the 2016 elections. His slides are available here. Chris Boccio is serving his second term as treasurer and first as secretary. He has working on proving the maturity of our organization before CMU to obtain more funding from the student government in the next academic years. Since April, Lauren Wilson has joined the team with her marketing expertise and is helping to reshape how the chapter is seen at CMU and outside.


Bidding for an Omega Rho chapter at CMU: We are supporting the application of a group of undergraduate students from a variety of departments at CMU for a Carnegie Mellon chapter of the Omega Rho International Honor Society. Fingers crossed for their success!


Keeping Moore’s Law going with happy hours: We cannot keep doubling happy hour attendance for long, but for sure we can double the number of happy hours. We are considering another joint happy hour with the Chemical Engineering department.

MDD #50: We are likely to reach our 50th student-led discussion at some point in Spring 2017. We are still discussing how to make it a special happening to celebrate the consolidation of this great initiative started by Tarek Elgindy in 2015.

Big Data Challenge: CMU INFORMS was invited by the Texas A&M chapter to participate in their traditional big data challenge. Details to follow.


We are grateful for the support of faculty and staff from the Tepper School of Business: our faculty advisor Fatma Kilinc-Karzan; the Associate Director for the PhD Program Lawrence Rapp; the heads of the PhD Program Alan Scheller-Wolf, Gerard Cornuejols, Nicola Secomandi; the Associate Dean Michael Trick; and many others in the OR and OM programs. We are also thankful to all our speakers, volunteers, officers (listed on the website), members of the MBA clubs that partnered with us, faculty of other schools at CMU. And thank you INFORMS for all the help, recognition, and support since 2014!

11 types of tweets for #ics2017

With the 2017 INFORMS Computing Society Conference in Austin around the corner, I was looking for useful way to make a binary joke and decided to write about tweeting.

For a long time I used Twitter as I would use Linkedin (that is, if Linkedin worked): for networking and letting people know about something going on where I was. This type of tweet, which I now call “Look what you are missing”, is quite useful.

I still use Twitter in that way, particularly when I am busy keeping session time (like above) or trying to understand something that is new to me. However, I started paying attention to other people’s tweets and decided to use it in a more productive way for me and others: taking notes of what seem to be the takeaway message or good to know.


But there is another – more entertaining – way of using Twitter in conferences…

I still have to figure how to tweet while giving a talk. Talk would entail 100 types of tweets!

Realize what you have lost; come back the next year!

(Originally posted in the 2016 INFORMS blog).

INFORMS meetings: you are not doing it right if you don’t realize that there was something cool that you missed by the end of the conference. Perhaps that does not hold for fellows, but for sure it does for those with, say, less than a dozen meetings.

This is my list of “missed things” so far:

  • Charlotte 2011: found out about the meeting and followed it through the conference blog; decided that I would attend the next year and be a blogger.
  • Phoenix 2012: met great people from academia; decided to leave industry to pursue a PhD, joined CMU the next year, and did not attend Minneapolis 2013 to focus on my courses instead.
  • San Francisco 2014: heard about the great time that some people had at the doctoral students colloquium; then applied and attended the next year (and also attended the teaching effectiveness colloquium this year).
  • Philadelphia 2015: discovered about the poster competition; submitted my poster this year and had a great time presenting it.

In fact, the poster competition was much more intense than any other talk that I gave at INFORMS before: by the final round all judges came to talk to each poster presenter, many of which with a good understanding of the general area that I work on (cutting planes for integer programming). I had many more questions and met a lot more people than I would if I had presented the same thing on a regular talk, given how many parallel sessions there are.

Have you found your missed thing yet? If not, ask around what people liked the most so far. It won’t take long to find something you wished you had done too!

INFORMS on day -1: Teaching Effectiveness Colloquium

(Originally posted in the 2016 INFORMS blog).

A lot happens before the conference officially starts. Among those things, there is the combined colloquia, which are currently 3: for doctoral students, for young faculty, and on teaching effectiveness. I had such a great time last year at the doctoral students colloquium that I came back for the teaching effectiveness one this time.

Attendees of all colloquia are invited for a dinner on Friday, day -2. I had a great time talking to a cohort of PhD students and young faculty from US, Italy, Israel, and Hong Kong:

This morning, Jeffrey Camm was the first TEC speaker. He made interesting considerations about teaching students to explain why a solution is optimal to their clients. He also made the case for sub-optimal solutions, which sometimes are preferable because their worse value is more than compensated if they disrupt less how things are currently done.


Fredrik Odegaard talked about his experience using and creating analytics-related cases. He mentioned good resources for cases and explained how we works with them through his 80-minute lectures.



Matt Bailey was next. He pitched for ambiguity and unstructured problem solving, which is what will truly prepare students for real situations. That requires discipline not to delve in the data without a goal in mind. He worked out the probability for an, apparently, unusual case: a waitress at a small town in Ohio was given her stolen ID by an underage customer trying to buy alcohol.



Prakash Mirchandani discussed active learning and counterposed case-based lectures with games, which he prefers. He discussed when and for how to long to use different types of games along a course.

The next speaker was Amy Cohn, whom I have been following on Twitter for a while and seen her enthusiasm when talking about the Center for Healthcare Engineering and Patient Safety (CHEPS) at the University of Michigan. Her enthusiasm seems even bigger in person! She gave some interesting examples of engaging students by letting them choose project topics that they care about, and by replacing those tons of blending problems from linear programming textbooks with the real-world problems that she is currently solving.


Finally, James Cochran gave a whole lecture on engaging bits that can make students interested in the class. The most memorable part was when he explained how to use legos to explain linear programming and how to smash them when you want to explain shadow prices. He also run his version of “Who wants to be a millionaire”!


Kudos to Mihai Banciu for curating such an inspiring crowd of lecturers. The best way to teach is by showing, which all of them did!

Winter 2016 / 2017 schools on algorithms, optimization, scheduling, and other relevant #orms topics

There is not so much going on this Winter as in the past Summer, but there is still some cool stuff coming up. From doing a similar list of Summer 2016 schools and getting some feedback on things that I have missed, I hope that this list keeps growing as more people read this post and reach out to me. Like last time, I may also post schools with past deadlines as reference for future readers looking for schools in 2017 onwards.

SESO 2016 Winter School on Numerical Methods for Multistage Stochastic Optimization
November 2-7     (deadline: October 23)
Champs-sur-Marne, France
* Included on October 5

Brazilian Summer School in Machine Learning
December 8-9     (deadline: December 2)
Sao Paulo, Brazil
* Included on November 29

3rd Summer School on Discrete Math
January 3-6     (deadline: October 19 for international applicants)
Valparaiso, Chile

Winter School on Optimization and Operations Research: Big Data and Optimization
January 15-20     (deadline: December 15 for early registration)
Zinal, Switzerland
* Included on October 5 by suggestion of Shabbir Ahmed

Winter School in Stochastic programming with applications in energy, logistics and finance
January 15-21     (no deadline: first come, first served registration)
Passo del Tonale, Italy
* Included on October 20

6th Winter School on Network Optimization (netopt2017)
January 16-20     (deadline: October 31)
Estoril, Portugal

3rd International Winter School on Big Data
February 13-17     (deadline: October 21)
Bari, Italy
* Included on October 5

Recent trends in the study of expanders and high dimensional expanders
February 12-16     (deadline not posted)
Rehovot, Israel
* Included on January 2

2017 EURO Winter Institute on “Methods and Models in Transportation Problems”
February 14-23     (deadline was October 15)
Bressanone, Italy
* Included on October 25

Operations Research Summer School for Young Latin American Schoolars (ELAVIO)
February 24  – March 4     (deadline not posted)
Buenos Aires and Miramar, Argentina

Spring 2016 at the Carnegie Mellon INFORMS chapter: new activities, better organization, and more funding

(Originally posted at the CMU INFORMS website).

A great deal has happened since 2015 at CMU INFORMS. The chapter debuted on big events, became widely known by the MBA student body, and got further faculty support.

The big things

We made our first use of the INFORMS Speaker Program in April by inviting Steve Sashihara (Princeton Consultants CEO and author of The Optimization Edge) for a talk at the Tepper School of Business, where he was received by a mix of PhD and MBA students as well as faculty and local practitioners.


Back in February, we held our second joint happy hour with the University of Pittsburgh chapter. We had a much higher attendance this time.


We have also promoted another 20 gatherings: 12 seminars, 6 review sessions, and at least 2 board meetings. More about that can be found below.

A funding boost

The standard funding for a student chapter is a $150 check sent by INFORMS every year. Some chapters also charge their members. We have found alternative sources:

First, we sought university resources by explaining that we are complementing what the institution offers. That helped us receive a $500 donation from the CMU Alumni House by the end of 2015 (thanks to Aleksandr Kazachkov) and another $1500 from the Operations Management and Operations Research doctoral programs at the Tepper School of  Business in 2016 (thanks to Siddharth Singh and professors Alan Scheller-Wolf, Nicola Secomandi, Gerard Cornuejols, and Fatma Kilinc-Karzan).

Second, we went after CMU student body allocations, which are funded by the activities fee paid by all students. We secured $1000 of funding for catering and lodging two speakers in the upcoming academic year (thanks to our treasurer – and professional accountant – Chris Boccio).

Legacy, future, and succession

If he were not graduating, I would have supported David Sandora as our next president. Our former secretary and first MBA officer led the efforts to update our bylaws and reflect on what we want to achieve. To make the organization more flexible and goal-oriented, we merged the positions of secretary and treasurer and we created the role of marketing directors for specific constituencies. We currently have four officers in that position: Siddharth Singh for PhDs, Lauren Wilson for part-time MBAs, Carlos Balin for full-time MBAs, and Michael Rosenberg for undergrads. We have also formalized the board of emeritus officers, for which we invite former officers that have not graduated yet, such as our founder and first  president Aleksandr Kazachkov.

Prior to the elections, David organized a deck of slides (attached to the original post) with input from the board. I am particularly fond of the mission and strategic goals that we set. They are quite ambitions, but… why not?

CMU INFORMS aims to become a role-model INFORMS student chapter by 2020, having achieved Summa cum laude distinction three out of five years.

CMU INFORMS aims to serve each of its student constituencies by:
PhDs – Providing access to top-level research and a peer network
MBAs – Supplementing quant MBA training to support business leadership
Undergrads – Preparing students for career success through access to resources

Potential strategic objectives, based on current initiatives, for the
2016-17 academic year may include:
1) Implement mechanisms for improving outreach to MBAs, undergraduates
2) Initiate and expand on cross-discipline events such as outside speakers, trainings, and a case competition
3) Improve regional networking with other INFORMS chapters
4) Secure continuous funding

Thanks to Steve’s talk, we had no shortage of MBA students interested  in joining the organization. Among MBAs, Lauren Wilson and Carlos Balbin joined the team while David Sandora left. Among PhDs, Christian Tjandraatmadja left and Nam Ho-Nguyen joined as vice-president. Siddharth Singh, Chris Boccio, and I remained in our positions. Shortly after the election, we were joined by Michael Rosenberg to help reach out to undergrads.


Student-led seminars and review sessions

Continuing with our traditional Monday discussion dinners started by Tarek Elgindy in early 2015, we had another 12 student-led seminars:

02/01 – Yang Jiao: Student question posets
02/08 – Thiago Serra: Sound decision diagrams: a .zip file of near-optimal solutions
02/15 – Dabeen Lee: On some polytopes contained in the 0,1 hypercube that have a small Chvatal rank
02/22 – Nam Ho-Nguyen: Second-order Conic Formulation of the Trust Region  Subproblem
02/29 – Stelios Despotakis: Attribution models in marketing
03/21 – Tarek Elgindy: Topics in AC optimal power flow
04/04 – Gerdus Benade: Formulating a branching dual
04/11 – Aleksandr Kazachkov: Small representations for large kidney exchange graphs
04/25 – Thiago Serra: Reformulating the Disjunctive Cut Generating Linear Program
05/09 – Siddharth Singh: Net Metering Policies for PV solar electricity
05/16 – Dabeen Lee: Optimizing over the Chvatal Closure of a 0,1 Polytope is NP-Hard
05/23 – Bo Yang, Franco Berbeglia, and Mehmet Aydemir: Summer paper proposals


We also revived our reviews sessions for upcoming talks, surpassing our 2015 numbers already:

01/21 – Laci Babai (The University of Chicago)
01/29 – Nina Balcan (CMU)
02/05 – Javier Pena (CMU)
02/26 – Yanjun Li (Purdue University)
03/04 – Andrea Lodi (Polytechnique Montreal)
04/08 – Rakesh Vohra (University of Pennsylvania)


The next big things

There is a lot more than we could do. We are currently working on the following directions:

1) Promote activities focusing on undergraduate students

2) Turn Steve’s talk into the first event of a talk series with industry speakers

3) Look for other ways to convene with neighboring student chapters and related organizations

Steve Sashihara’s visit to CMU

(Originally posted at the CMU INFORMS website).

On April 5 we had the honor to welcome Steve Sashihara to Carnegie Mellon University. Steve kindly accepted the invitation to speak to our INFORMS Student Chapter, which was possible through the INFORMS Speakers Program. We also got great support from the Tepper School of Business community: staff help, faculty support from attending the talk to helping with costs, and engaged MBA students. The MBA Data Analytics Club and the MBA Consulting Club helped with planning and advertising the talk. They also paid and organized a happy hour with Steve afterwards.

Steve is co-founder and CEO of Princeton Consultants, a unique blend of optimization and predictive analytics, data science and management consulting to help businesses achieve transformational improvement in service and efficiency. He authored The Optimization Edge: Reinventing Decision Making to Maximize All Your Company’s Assets (McGraw Hill), the first book to explain optimization without jargon or mathematics to a general business executive. He is also a Princeton University graduate and serves at the advisory council for the university’s department of Operations Research and Financial Engineering (ORFE).

Upon arriving at CMU, Steve was welcomed by a group of PhD students from the Chemical Engineering department and the Tepper Business School.

A-coffeeFrom left to right: Alex Kazachkov (Tepper), Markus Drouven (ChemE), Nam Ho-Nguyen (Tepper),
Cristiana Lopes Lara (ChemE), Thiago Serra (Tepper), Steve Sashihara, Yash Puranik (ChemE).

Steve’s talk was held at the Tepper School of Business, where we had 63 attendees among faculty members, MBA and PhD students from CMU and the University of Pittsburgh, and also some practitioners from the Pittsburgh area.


Here are some tweets from the talk:

Steve is particularly interested in the human side of optimization. In his view, you should never try to settle an argument in a project by saying ‘Trust me: I am a PhD’. Having a PhD only goes as far as saying that you master a specific area of knowledge, not that you possess a complete and perfect systemic view of what is going on. His talk was permeated with insights like that, which are important but often absent from the quantitative training of MBA and PhD students in our field. The talk was then followed by a happy hour at Johny O’s, where he was able to continue answering questions and engaging with his avid audience. Kudos to the MBA students for the prime venue!

Another tweet:

I am particularly fond of the last picture that we took because it tells the story of our chapter. From right to left, Alex is the chapter founder, I am the current president, Steve is our first industry speaker, and Nam will run for a leadership role in our upcoming election.


There is a thin line between success and failure. I believe that we did succeed, but that would not be possible if it were not by the help of many people in a lot of different ways, from logistics to funding: Michael Menche (Princeton Consultants), Barry List, Jeff Cohen (INFORMS), Lawrence Rapp (Tepper), Fatma Kilinc-Karzan (our faculty advisor), Gerard Cornuejols, Javier Pena, R. Ravi, Alan Scheller-Wolf, Nicola Secomandi, Mike Trick (Tepper faculty), David Dierker, Ben Ganzfried, JiaJia Zhang (Tepper MBA Data Analytics Club), Justin McMath (Tepper MBA Consulting Club), Christopher Boccio, Nam Ho-Nguyen, Alex Kazachkov, David Sandora, Siddarth Singh, Christian Tjandraatmadja (CMU INFORMS). And, of course, Steve for accepting our invitation and giving a great talk!

The journal in discussion by the INFORMS Optimization Society

Suvrajeet Sen presented a compelling view for the proposed Optimization Society journal at the business meeting of IOS 2016. Stepping out of the frame of ‘Analytics’ being a trend that would risk making the journal dated soon if incorporated to the title, he embraced it as a keyword for how academia and industry perceive and react to the abundant data now available.

Suvrajeet argued that this journal should be thought for the upcoming generation of researchers in the field. In his words, people with half of his age. As an example of the change that he meant, he pointed out to classic textbook examples that would solve production and distribution problems while ignoring that past sales data can be used to forecast demand. Going further, he questioned what should be the ‘diet problem’ of the new millennium. Indeed, it seems to me that optimization can only remain relevant if we qualify the next generation to leverage available data when using it.


From past online discussion, I felt inclined to the name Journal on Optimization as revived by Jon Lee, or else something involving prescriptive analytics as suggested by Marco Luebbecke. However, the tone of the meeting made me an enthusiast of a suggestion then made by Ted Ralphs: New Dimensions in Optimization. Among the people that spoke, I felt that there was a general agreement on having a journal with areas changing through time, in an attempt to keep identifying and promoting the current research frontiers.

I am not sure how optimization and analytics can be put smoothly together as a title, but I believe that evidencing in whatever title is chosen the ever-changing nature of the journal would make a big difference. That would be the definitive answer to why having yet another optimization journal: for capturing what is hot and yet full of potential for new developments – not the mature areas.

I hope we move in this direction because one day I do want to publish at a journal like that!

Summer 2016 schools on algorithms, optimization, scheduling, and other relevant #orms topics

There is a lot going on this Summer (or Winter, if you head to Brazil). I have compiled a list of schools that seem very interesting for those who like algorithms, optimization, and related topics. Some have no registration available yet. The deadline for two of them are over and for a few others it is approaching. However, because some of those are (or could be) recurrent, I felt that listing them would be useful if someone reads this in the future.

International Summer School on Autonomous Agents and Multiagent Systems
May 6-8     (deadline: April 15)

4th International Symposium on Combinatorial Optimization (ISCO) Spring School
May 19-20     (deadline: April 12)
Salerno, Italy
* Included on March 10 by suggestion of Martim Joyce-Moniz and Daniel Oliveira

117th European Study Group with Industry
May 23-27     (deadline: May 27)
Avignon, France
* Included on March 10 by suggestion of Martim Joyce-Moniz

Integer Programming and Combinatorial Optimization (IPCO) 2016 Summer School
May 30-31     (deadline not posted yet)
Liège, Belgium

Eötvös Loránd University Summer School in Mathematics: Discrete algorithms and applications
June 6-10     (deadline: May 31)
Budapest, Hungary

COST/MINO PhD School on Advanced Optimization Methods 2016
June 6-10     (deadline: May 13)
Rome, Italy
* Included on April 7

International Conference on Automated Planning and Scheduling (ICAPS) Summer School
June 8-11     (deadline: March 18)
London, UK

Numerical Computations: Theory and Algorithms (NUMTA) International Conference and Summer School
June 19-25     (deadline: March 10 for regular fee)
Calabria, Italy

Association for Constraint Programming (ACP) Summer School 2016
June 20-24     (deadline: May 20)
Cork, Ireland

Mixed Integer Non-Linear Programming (MINLP) School: Theory, algorithms and applications
June 20 – July 1     (deadline was February 20)
Sevilla, Spain

Satisfiability (SAT), Satisfiability Modulo Theories (SMT), and Automated Reasoning (AR) Summer School
June 22-25     (deadline not posted yet)
Lisbon, Portugal

2016 Summer School on Real Algebraic Geometry and Optimization
July 11-15     (deadline was April 1st)
Atlanta, GA, United States
* Included on June 9 by suggestion of Akshay Gupte

2016 Industrial Math/Stat Modeling Workshop for Graduate Students
July 17-27     (deadline: April 15)
Raleigh, NC, United States
* Included on March 20

São Paulo School on Algorithms, Combinatorics, and Optimization
July 18-29     (deadline: March 28)
São Paulo, Brazil

12th Multipe Criteria Decision Aid and Multiple Criteria Decision Making (MCDA/M) Summer School
July 18-29     (deadline was December 30)
Recife, Brazil

Argonne Training Program on Extreme-Scale Computing
July 31 – August 12     (deadline: March 25)
St. Charles, IL, United States

Prague Summer School on Discrete Mathematics 2016
August 1-5     (deadline: March 31)
Prague, Czech Republic

3rd Algorithmic and Enumerative Combinatorics (AEC) Summer School 2016
August 1-5     (deadline: June 15)
Hagenberg, Austria

Institute for Mathematics and its Applications (IMA) Program on Mathematical Optimization
August 1-12     (deadline not posted)
Minneapolis, MN, United States
* Included on March 10 by suggestion of Jeff Linderoth
* Website link added on March 14

Statistical and Applied Mathematical Sciences Institute (SAMSI) Optimization Program Summer School
August 8-12     (deadline: June 8)
Raleigh, NC, United States
* Included on March 24 by suggestion of Sercan Yildiz

Algorithmic Optimization Autumn School
September 19-22     (deadline: August 21)
Trier, Germany
* Included on May 10

What does an INFORMS Student Chapter do? A 2015 review at Carnegie Mellon University

(Originally posted at the CMU INFORMS website).

Our annual report to INFORMS was due yesterday. What a year! After compiling everything we did, it would be a waste not to share it more publicly. Except for the chapter and fora breakfast at the INFORMS Annual Meeting, we don’t know much of what happens elsewhere.

The big things

We had two major events in 2015. Thanks to sponsorship from the Tepper School of Business, we had a seminar and a tutorial with MIT students Joseph Huchette and Miles Lubin: “JuMP, a modeling language for mathematical optimization”. We also had a happy hour followed by an ORMS job market panel with alumni that were in Pittsburgh to attend the ISMP 2015 conference. The panelists included Amitabh Basu, Fatma Kilinc-Karzan, Qihang Lin, Marco Molinaro, Selvaprabu Nadarajah, Viswanath Nagarajan, and Negar Soheili.

Among our social gatherings, we had a joint happy hour with the University of Pittsburgh chapter:
Besides that, we had two “pizza social” events to talk about what the chapter could do and a picnic on our elections day, which also served to welcome the incoming PhD students:

Our (short) history

The Carnegie Mellon University INFORMS Student Chapter is quite young. In fact, I still remember Alex Kazachkov going down the hall asking which students were INFORMS members to submit the chapter application, aiming to bring to CMU something that meant a lot to him as an undergrad in Cornell. We took off in June 2014 gathering students from the doctoral programs in ACO (Algorithms, Combinatorics, and Optimization), OM (Operations Management), and OR (Operations Research) at CMU’s Tepper School of Business, which together account for 24 students (about 4-5 students per year). With time we also attracted students from Computer Science, Math, Chemical Engineering, and Tepper MBA students. We also put some effort into attracting undergraduate students at the activities fair last Fall:

Our tradition

Although short in existence, we have found some interesting niches thanks to the effort of our members. In particular, thanks to Tarek Elgindy, we have started our main tradition: the Monday discussion dinners. Tarek felt that we were often unaware of each other’s work and lead himself the first discussion. This thing gained momentum and we had 20 discussions throughout 2015. Some people spoke once, twice, or even more (me included). Sometimes this was about our research, something we were learning about, or even experiences like summer internships and having attended the INFORMS Doctoral Student Colloquium. You can have an idea by the list below:

01/19 - Tarek Elgindy: Stochastic network design problems
01/26 - Vince Slaugh: Managing rentals with usage-based loss
02/02 - Ryo Kimura: Petri nets
02/09 - Thiago Serra: Disjunctive cuts
02/23 - Aleksandr Kazachkov: Algorithms, complexity results, and open problems in Vertex Enumeration
03/02 - Christian Tjandraatmadja: Aiming and shooting: Thoughts on an empirical exploration of facets
03/23 - Tarek Elgindy: A cryptocurrency which changes the proof-of-work component used in the bitcoin protocol
03/30 - Jeremy Karp: Primal-dual methods for online problems, including online matching
04/06 - Tony Johansson: Random minimum matchings and Riemann’s zeta function
04/13 - Ryo Kimura: Robust scheduling with uncertain processing times
04/27 - Thiago Serra: Generation of cutting planes from non-convex lattice-free sets and some of empirical results obtained so far
05/18 - Gerdus Benade: The minimum bandwidth problem
09/14 - Jeremy Karp and Christian Tjandraatmadja: Summer internships
09/21 - Christian Kroer: Inner Approximation of the Realizable Polytope: Solving Hard Prediction Market Pricing Problems
10/05 - Aleksandr Kazachkov: Final point cuts
10/12 - Siddharth Singh: Delay announcement for admission control under competition
10/19 - Thiago Serra: Cadoux and Lemarechal's Reflections on generating (disjunctive) cuts
11/16 - Leela Nageswaran and Thiago Serra: INFORMS Doctoral Student Colloquium
12/10 - Xin Wang: Green technology development and adoption: Competition, regulation, and uncertainty - A global game approach
12/16 - Christian Tjandraatmadja: Relaxed decision diagrams and integer programming

Thanks to Alex Kazachkov, since 2014 we have been running review sessions prior to important seminars, where we go over the paper that will be presented or some material that would help the students follow the talk. The feedback about these gatherings has been great, since the preliminary discussion prevents students from getting lost too soon in more advanced talks. We had 5 of those last year:

02/13 - Daniel Schmidt (University of Cologne, visiting CMU)
03/06 - Vineet Goyal (Columbia University)
03/20 - Joseph Huchette and Miles Lubin (MIT)
03/26 - Egon Balas (CMU)
04/10 - Robert Vanderbei (Princeton University)

The next big things

So far we have not used the INFORMS Speakers Program and neither have we targeted our MBA audience properly. Our goal is to use this program to bring speakers with vast experience in the industry. We are also looking into interacting more with the chapters in our region, keeping our connection to UPitt and possibly going further. Hopefully, the 2016 report will have its own lot of new ideas that worked out.

The people behind it

Our chapter is greatly indebted to the efforts that Alex Kazachkov has put since it all started. Our main events in 2015 were his idea, not to mention many of the social gatherings. In addition, Tarek Elgindy’s discussion dinners became our identity as a group. There are many other people now on the board doing a great job. Alex and Tarek can be sure we are taking good care of what they started!

We are also grateful for the constant support and insights from our faculty advisor, Professor Fatma Kilinc-Karzan.