The State of CMU INFORMS in 2016

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.

THE BIG THINGS

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”.

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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”.

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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.

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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 UNITED CHAPTERS OF INFORMS

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:

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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.

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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.

THE TRADITIONAL THINGS

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)

LESSONS LEARNED

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.

WHAT COMES NEXT

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!

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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.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

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!

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

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.

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

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

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.

Continue reading “What does an INFORMS Student Chapter do? A 2015 review at Carnegie Mellon University”