Three days, 116 attendees, 105 talks, 8 posters, 3 plenary speakers, 2 featured speakers, and a small ceremony in honor of Robert Fourer. That’s a one-sentence summary of the Fourth INFORMS Optimization Society Conference that took place from February 24th to the 26th on the University of Miami campus. Mother nature cooperated with good weather and the participants did not hesitate to tell us (the organizers) how much they enjoyed their time here in Coral Gables. It was a lot of work, but it was all worth it. I’m exhausted but happy. Thank you all for your kind words, handshakes, and feedback.
The conference was much more than simply giving and attending talks (to paraphrase Michael Trick). There were old friends getting together, there were new friendships (and papers) getting started, there were old/long-forgotten, unfinished papers coming back to life (my case), there were laughs, jokes, and camaraderie. There were inspiring plenary talks that made some of us think (and tweet) about new research directions, and wonder whether we chose the right path. A true networking event.
In Brazil, in the context of a soccer match, we say that a good referee is one whose presence we don’t notice. The conference wasn’t glitch-free (on my end of things), but it was pretty much glitch-free to everyone else not involved in the organization (at least this was the feedback I received). That’s as good as it gets, in my opinion. We wanted to be the soccer referee who wears an invisibility cloak, and it seems to have worked. We (the conference chairs and organizing committee) couldn’t have pulled it off without the tremendous help of many people, and I want to take this opportunity to thank them once more:
From the Management Science Department: our awesome office manager Vanessa Ferguson, and dedicated students Jannelle Chaviano, Jen Verdon, Meiyin Cheng, and William Barnard. Thank you for taking care of the catering, logistics, registration desk, signage, receipts, printing and binding of programs, bags & badges, table decorations, and the 1000 other things that seem to be small but amount to a whole lot when put together.
From the IT and Budget departments at UM: Emil Diego, May Peralta, and Richard Mencke. Thank you for your help with the web site and payment processing.
From the INFORMS offices: Terry Cryan, Ellen Tralongo and Paulette Bronis. Thank you for all your help with the abstract submission system, special requests of all sorts, and formatting of the final program.
From my family: Madeline Keller (a.k.a. my darling wife). Thank you for helping out with all sorts of little things, and for lending us your computer expertise and attention to detail (and for helping me get a beer early at the receptions :-) there must be some advantage to being an organizer, right?). And most importantly, thank you for your patience during my stressful days.
Finally, here are a few of photos taken during the conference. If you have more photos, please send them to me and I’ll be happy to add them to this page.
My vegetarian boxed lunch. Eaten during Manoj Saxena’s plenary:
Last slide of Dimitris Bertsimas’s plenary (click on it to enlarge it, and note the “stochastic analysis *without* probability”):
Me standing on stage minutes before officially closing the conference and introducing our last featured speaker, David Alderson (taken by Mike Trick):
Curious photo of an art piece at the Lowe Art Museum (where the Friday reception was held). According to a number of participants, the man in this photo looks like one of the conference organizers. Can you guess who it is? (Copyright Carlos Betancourt)