Ten Freshmen + 46 Slides = 1 Hour of OR Fun

I just finished my presentation to business undergraduate students and, from what I could tell by looking at them, I think it was successful. Of course the real test will be whether someone stops by my office saying “I love OR! Can I work with you?”. I want to thank our vice dean for this opportunity and I am looking forward to doing it again next year.

I closed the presentation with a little “quiz” based on a very nice paper by Brown, Klein, Rosenthal and Washburn entitled Steaming on Convex Hulls. Here’s how it goes (you can open the image on a new window to make it larger):

An aircraft carrier can run with 2 or 4 engines online. The graph below shows gallons of gasoline used per hour versus possible speeds for each engine configuration. How would you run the ship to cover 100 miles in 4 hours?

According to the article, the Navy spends over 1 billion dollars a year on surface combatants alone. An officer who became a ship commander after graduating from the academy was smart enough to solve the above problem the right way. His ship was saving so much fuel that it had to be inspected under the suspicion that it was violating safety regulations. But we all know it wasn’t. It was just a case of using analytical techniques to make better decisions.



Filed under Applications, Linear Programming, Motivation, Promoting OR

10 responses to “Ten Freshmen + 46 Slides = 1 Hour of OR Fun

  1. Here’s another problem for your business undergraduates. You have the choice between reading the paper “Steaming on Convex Hulls” from the journal Interfaces, which will cost you $30 for two days of access at http://interfaces.journal.informs.org. Or you can read a nice article on in, say, Journal of Artificial Intelligence Research (http://www.jair.org) for free. Forever. Just sayin’. Dave p.s. Great blog.

  2. orbythebeach

    Dave: another option would be to type steaming on convex hulls on Google and discover that the second search result allows you to download the full paper for free :-) I’m glad to hear you like the blog. Thanks.

  3. You know, I was all ready with a rejoinder that you shouldn’t be encouraging your students to read bootlegged copies (the version at navy.mil is the publisher’s official version), but then I remembered that US government authors have a standard opt-out. Lucky them.

  4. orbythebeach

    If I understand the copyright agreement correctly, INFORMS allows authors to post a copy of their papers on their personal web site.

  5. Unclear. The language in the copyright transfer document for Interfaces is “This assignment is made subject to the limitation that the owner reserves the right to use all or part of the paper in future works he or she may write or edit (for example, textbooks, reviews, lectures), and to obtain a copyright assignment from the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences without fee for such purposes.” That’s traditional re-use boilerplate, and while I’m not a lawyer, it’s not clear to me that it covers republication of the paper on an open website.

  6. orbythebeach

    Take a look at what they say on this web page under “Self-Archiving”.

  7. Ah, yes, they do have it there.

  8. Pingback: 2010 in Review: How Did We Do? | O.R. by the Beach

  9. Andrew Ross

    It looks like they’re taking the idea from just one ship to a larger scale:
    Face of Defense: Sailor Advances Fuel-Saving Measures

  10. orbythebeach

    Nice! Thank you for the link, Andrew!

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