YinzOR 2018


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The INFORMS Student Chapter at Carnegie Mellon University held YinzOR 2018 student conference on August 24-25 at Tepper School of Business, Carnegie Mellon University. The conference, sponsored by EQT Corporation and Tepper School of Business, consisted of three featured talks, eight regular-track talks, a poster competition with 12 participants, and a few interaction breaks and a happy hour. This year we had the honor of hosting more than 70 attendees.

A nomination and voting process was used by the organizing committee to choose and invite outstanding young researchers from various institutions. We were honored to have speakers from Carnegie Mellon University, University of Pittsburgh, Duke University, University of Pennsylvania, Lehigh University, University of Michigan Ann Arbor, Google, and EQT Corporation.

On Friday August 24, Ramayya Krishnan, the Dean of Heinz College and president-elect of INFORMS, kicked off YinzOR with Opening Remarks. He talked about the importance of bringing ORMS closer to the other related fields and making INFORMS a multidisciplinary organization. At the end of his talk, he asked the participants’ opinions on how to achieve these goals.


Dean Krishnan’s opening remarks was followed by a featured talk by Markus Drouven from EQT. Markus discussed how EQT’s Optimization Engineering team is utilizing OR to optimize pad planning for shale gas development.


The poster competition was held after Markus’s featured talk. There were 12 posters from Carnegie Mellon University, University of Pittsburgh, Sate University of New York at Buffalo, and Lehigh university. The panel of judges for the poster competition consisted of four CMU faculty members: Gerard Cornuejols, John Hooker, Fatma Kilinc-Karzan, and R. Ravi. In a tough competition, Po-Wei Wang won the first prize.

We wrapped up the first day of YinzOR with a delicious Turkish dinner.


The second day of YinzOR 2018, August 25, started with a healthy breakfast, and hot ORMS discussions.


In the first Saturday session of YinzOR, Abhinav Maurya (Heinz College, CMU), Mohammad Shahab safa (Industrial and Systems Engineering, Lehigh University), and Lauren Steimle (Industrial and Operations Engineering, University of Michigan) presented their work. Abhinav Maurya presented evidence that humans and machines working together outperform either by itself on data annotation. Mohammad Shahabsafa’s Inmate Assignment Decision Support System cuts costs, improves safety/security, and helps inmates get the correctional programming they need. Lauren Steimle presented multi model MDPs as a tractable way to account for parameter uncertainty without sacrificing performance.

Second YinzOR featured talk was given by Miles Lubin (Google, and MIT PhD) on mixed integer convex optimization. He made a strong case for the conic programming-based open source MICP solver Pajarito.


A nice long pasta lunch served as a tasty divider for day 2 of YinzOR, in the Deloitte Foundation Innovation Hub of the Tepper Quad.

After lunch, participants headed back to the conference room for three interesting talks by Arash Haddadn (Tepper School of Business, CMU), Vanitha Virudachalam (The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania), and Maria Ochoa (Chemichal Engineering, CMU). Arash Haddadan presented a polytime algorithm for writing a feasible fractional point as a convex combination of feasible integer points with low total multiplier weight, beating out Christofides for the 2EC polytope. Vanitha Virudachalam explained how she uses OM techniques to elucidate the value of interim assessments in improving school performance. Maria Ochoa showed how to optimize production subject to both electricity price uncertainty and flexibility w.r.t. variable product demand.

A coffee break was followed by Huck Gutman (Math Science, CMU) presenting a unified approach to proving convergence rates of proximal gradient methods via the convex conjugate. Next, David Abdul-Malak (Industrial Engineering, University of Pittsburgh) detailed a MOMDP model for system maintenance incorporating uncertain heterogeneous system qualities.

In the last featured talk, Can Zhang (Duke Fuqua School of Business) closed the session with surprising structural insights on the value of inventory sharing with perishable goods, applied to blood platelet inventory management.

After Can’s talk some of the participants took a group photo.


YinzOR ended with the most important event of all: Happy Hour. It was held in the biggest balcony of the Tepper Quad, where the participants enjoyed a nice view of the beautiful city of Pittsburgh, and discussed ORMS (or other things!).

YiznOR 2018 team of organizers: Mehmet Aydemir, Franco Berbeglia, David Bernal, Musa Celdir, Violet Chen, Sagnik Das, Ozgun Elci, Nam Ho-Nguyen, Amin Hosseininasab, Melda Korkut, Cristiana Lara, Neda Mirzaeian (conference chair), Thiago Serra, Ziye Tang, and Christian Tjandraatmadja.

Credits: Ryo Kimura and Neda Mirzaeian

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