Wednesday, April 11, 2012

So Much to See, So Little Time...

This is the first of several posts as a Guest Blogger for the INFORMS Analytics 2012 Conference.  It was originally posted on the Conference Blog.
I can't wait to get to Huntington Beach and the INFORMS 2012 Business Analytics Conference.  I'm looking forward to connecting with colleagues and friends, both old and new.  And this conference is one of the best "idea generators" I've ever found.  I always come back with pages full of ideas (most of which I unfortunately never pursue!).

If you're anything like me, the biggest challenge with any good conference, like this one, is deciding which presentations to attend.  I've been attending this conference for about 10 years, and the presentations seem to get better every year.  But that only makes it harder to decide which ones to see.  I spend most of my time doing Supply Chain work, but I'm often just as interested in topics outside of the Supply Chain tracks.  In fact, there's hardly a time slot without two, three or even four presentations that I'd really like to see.  It certainly helps that we can see the presentation slides in advance (thank you INFORMS!).  They're a good (not always great) indicator of presentation quality.  Clear writer = clear speaker?

Here's an optimization problem to ponder.  Wouldn't it be great if each attendee could rate each presentation in terms of likely interest, and then have a scheduling algorithm create a schedule to maximize the total utility, i.e., people get to see the most presentations they’re interested in?  I know that might wreak havoc with the track structure.  In a simpler scenario, you could maintain the integrity of the tracks (which presentations go in which tracks), but just vary the scheduling of tracks and of presentations within tracks.  What do you think?

Rob Ende is Founder and President of REanalyze Inc., a Supply Chain, Inventory Management and Analytics consultancy based on Long Island, New York.  Rob can be reached at 631-807-2339 or
© 2012 REanalyze.Inc.. All Rights Reserved.

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