Making an Impact at EURO 2019

The MAI (Make an Impact) stream at EURO 2019 in Dublin was a great success with close to or more than a hundred attendees for some of the sessions. About half of the attendees were practitioners working for the industry, businesses or consulting firms and half academics.

This shows how eager is our community to share and learn from the experiences and successes on using OR techniques in business, governmental or environmental related challenges we face.

The stream organized by Joaquim Gromicho and Sofiane Oussedik included:

  • A one-on-one speed networking session, managed by Ruth, that allowed people in the room to know each other and uncover synergies. Attendees exchanged contact details, this will, we hope, initiate some good and fruitful collaborations.
  • A ‘fast and furious session’ that was highly rated in the stream surveys, organized and facilitated by Ruth and with a very tight timetable, 5 minutes for each talk with presentations around OR in the UK government, OR to support radiography, air traffic control, staff scheduling at airports, among other topics. Speakers shared their achievements but also the challenges they faced when modelling and building the solutions. Presentations on how to build a successful OR team and how to build optimization solutions that have an impact were also delivered. Attendees learned a lot from these presentations, great atmosphere and knowledge sharing in the room! Excellent feedback including comments such as “It’s a great format!” and “Interesting session!” or “need for a larger room” (even if that was a room that was twice larger than the other regular conference rooms)
  • Matteo from Optit delivered a presentation that summarized the work group event in Bologna in March, a one day and a half event in March 2019 that was dedicated to Machine Learning and OR combined. Follow-up activities on this topic that generates a lot of interest are planned by the work group. Follow this link to read more about the Bologna event:
  • We also had the pleasure and chance to welcome, Rafaele Maccioni for a Franz Edelman Award finalist presentation on Forecasting, Simulation, and Optimization for Vehicle Rental with important Return on investment achieved and shared with the attendees along with the challenges faced. What a “best” solution really means was at the heart of the solution design.
  • A workshop on Optimization with python (EURO-2019, June 26). The first half of the tutorial was given by Joaquim Gromicho and consisted in a light but general introduction to mathematical optimization with python, he started with the presentation and proceeded with a demonstration of the notebook.

Afterwards Gurobi excited us with a preview of the upcoming support to quadratic equations, in fact mixed integer bilinear programming, in version 9.0, mixed integer bilinear programming in version 9.0, and invited those interested to request an alpha version of the upcoming solver if they cannot wait until the release.

Then Fico gave an overview of the many linear, integer and nonlinear functionalities of their solver. Fico kindly provided their notebook and two additional files required to run it, qplib_2702.lp and sampleprob.mps (note that you may need to ask a suitable license from Fico.)

IBM finalized the tutorial with an exposition of an industrial application developed in Python, EURO2019-Gambella

We hope that you find the material from this page useful and thank you for the overwhelming interest you demonstrated on this tutorial (the room hosted twice the regular attendance during a full hour and a half and quite some people followed through the windows).

  • Learning from data via visualization and storytelling session, presented by Jasper Lodder, tackled a key aspect of our jobs. That is using the right available technologies and methodologies for effective analytics storytelling, all the way from the first contact with messy data to taking decisions based on optimization models.
  • A session on scientific benchmarks from the real world and OR competitions was presented by Alex Fleischer and Joaquim.  This was a fun session around puzzles and challenges that are great instruments to build skills and learn OR. Reports on great puzzles, benchmarks and challenges were shared. Willing to propose challenges, puzzles to the community or to get us to know a new one, contact us!

The participants to the stream also enjoyed several panels with industry, business and leading academic experts

  • Making an impact across the industry was organized by Jean André, where industrial companies panelists – Manuel Ruiz (RTE), Marcos Gonzalez Coto (ArcelorMittal), Michele Quattrone (Air Liquide), Quentin Viaud (Saint Gobain), Benoit Rottembourg (Maersk), Slawomir Pietrasz (Engie), Jean-Yves Lucas (EDF) – shared their view on the impact of operations research in their companies, how it integrates in their environments and processes, how they team up with business users, how they share knowledge within the OR team, and handle dynamic situations faced with and by the operations. Many perspectives and real life experiences shared with the audience.
  •  Success factors of industry/academics partnerships organized by Jean André with the participation of Manuel Ruiz (RTE), Marcos Gonzalez Coto (ArcelorMittal), Michele Quattrone (Air Liquide), Quentin Viaud (Saint Gobain), Slawomir Pietrasz (Engie), Jean-Yves Lucas (EDF), Roberto Olmi (Ellettric80), Steven Gabriel (University of Maryland). The panel tackled the key ingredients that make an industry/academic partnership successful from an industrial and academic points of view. How do we initiate such partnerships? How do we track the evolution? Do we need to precisely define the roles in such partnerships ? What is expected from industrials by academics: data, real life topics, business expertise…? What is expected from academics by industrials: scientific excellence, modeling practice, algorithmic developments, hype technological check…? What are the final output of such collaboration expected: prototyped models, feasibility studies, Proof of concepts…? What are the issues that are regularly faced in such collaborations: misunderstandings, Intellectual Property,…?
  • How can better governance save the world with the help of OR? Organized by Joaquim Gromicho, a joint effort of the streams on Governance Analytics and Making an Impact: There are huge opportunities for OR to develop the instruments that effective governance may use to improve the condition of our planet. The panel brought together experts in governance, sustainability, energy, societal impact, mass transportation, defense against the forces of nature and on how to effectively feed the world. The panel included recipient of past Frans Edelman awards for impact on profit, people and planet. The panel discussion was started by Prof. Cathal MacSwiney Brugha.  A very good atmosphere and exchanges with the attendees in the room, all agreed that follow-up actions are needed among which more promotion of what OR can achieve.
Anna Nagurney, Dick den Hertog, Joaquim Gromicho, Cathal MacSwiney Brugha, Ulrike Reisach, Dennis Huisman at the How can better governance save the world with the help of OR panel

Comments from participants

To end this report, here are some of the survey comments for the stream: 

  • “One of the most enjoyable parts of the conference thank you”;
  • “Very important that this stream continues. May be have more Fast and Furious sessions?”;
  • “It was good to hear clear presentations about real results”, “Keep up the great work!”;
  • ” Very nice stream, definitely a keeper. Maybe it would be interesting to investigate how to get more academics involved”

And a selection of ideas and suggestions:

  • May be a workshop, for new to OR, to educate them on where opportunities lie and what roles they could be eligible to apply for?;
  • Allocate more time for speed networking session, or get together in general. To foster collaborations and exchange professional ideas;
  • Attract PhD students interested in a career in industry to these sessions;
  • May be have a plenary session (on the work group activities?);
  • Session for groups of delegates to discuss in syndicates key practitioner problems before presenting findings to whole group (similar to the format in Bologna);
  • QR code in the conference program to promote the MAI agenda and content.

If you would like to help organise a future ‘Making an Impact’ stream, please get in touch.