Category Archives: Video, Screencasts, Media

a journey to the German OR Society Conference

Earlier in September, I gave a semi-plenary at the 2014 German OR Conference in Aachen, Germany. It was a wonderful conference and experience that will inspire at least another blog post or two. The German OR Society and Marco Lübbecke were wonderful hosts and conference organizers. There were more than 850 attendees, 500 talks, and an impressive group of plenary and semi-plenary talks.

Earlier I blogged about Mike Trick’s plenary talk on Major League Baseball scheduling and analytics that opened up the conference. I’m finally getting around to blogging about my talk on emergency medical services. For another take, see Mike Trick’s blog post about my talk. I learned a lot by giving the talk and talking to German researchers. Emergency medical services are operated in different ways in different parts of the world. It was refreshing to talk to other researchers who are looking at healthcare delivery issues from a different perspective than we have in the United States. It was also fun to catch up with two of my favorite bloggers (Mike Trick and and Marc-Andre Carle) at social events and meet some Punk Rock OR readers from across the pond.

I posted the slides to my talk below.

I took a few pictures from the conference and from Aachen that capture some of the highlights of the trip.

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At the reception with Mike Trick and Marc-Andre Carle.

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At the reception.

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At the conference.

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There were pretzels at almost every meal and snack break.

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A statue in a square in Aachen.

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A square in Aachen.

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What looks like a panther statue.

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I ran into Belguim and the Netherlands and found the Dreiländerpunkt [three-country point].

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The conference bags were pretty snazzy.

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A snapshot of me blogging about Mike Trick’s keynote as taken by my laptop. I didn’t realize how serious I look–blogging is a lot of fun, I swear!

The German OR society has a great mascot: a GORilla!

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how to find a football team’s best mix of pass and run plays using game theory

This is my third and final post in my series of football analytics slidecasts. After this one, just enjoy the Superbowl. My first two posts are here and here.

This slidecast illustrates how to find

  • the offensive team’s best mix of run and pass plays, and
  • the defensive team’s best mix of run and pass defenses.
The best mix is, of course, a mixed strategy. We use a game theory to identify the best mix (a Nash equilibrium) for a simultaneous, perfect information, zero-sum game.

What is a football team’s best mix of running and passing plays?

View another webinar from Laura McLay

When is a two point conversion better than an extra point? A dynamic programming approach.

This post continues my series of slidecasts about football. My first slidecast is here.

Today’s topic addresses when a two point conversion is better than an extra point after a touchdown. As you may guess, it is best for a team to go for two when they are down by eight. You can see other scenarios when it is best to go for two, based on the point differential and the remaining number of possessions in the game.

This presentation is on Wayne Winston’s book Mathletics, which is a fantastic introduction to sports analytics.

Related post:


should a football team go for it on fourth down?

With the Superbowl coming up, I created three sports analytics slidecasts for analyzing football strategies. I will post one per day here on the blog.

The first slidecast deals with the decision of whether a football team should go for it on fourth down (or should they punt). The presentation is adapted from the book Scorecasting by Tobias Moskowitz and Jon Werthem. Wayne Winston blogged about this, and his blog post went viral. Here is another look at this issue.


so you’re thinking about graduate school in operations research

Today I gave a talk about applying to graduate school for the Math Club at VCU. My slides are below.

Here are a few links:

  • Advice on a career in operations research from INFORMS. I wish I had known about this link before–this FAQ answers many questions that students ask me.
  • A list of ORMS departments in the US from INFORMS.
  • By now, you’ve probably realized that you should become a member of INFORMS. It’s frugal ($37 per year) and valuable. Go for it! If you are not into OR, join AMS, ASA, ACM, SIAM, or whatever interests you.
  • Mike Trick made a plea for graduate students to sign up for twitter accounts. It’s a great idea, and I’ll let him explain why.
  • Students from state universities with strong STEM programs tend to be the most recruited in the nation. Those are great choices if you want a job when you graduate.
  • The students at the talk recommended forums, including the Xkcd forums and Grad café forums
  • One of the students at the talk recommended the book Getting what you came for: The Smart Student’s Guide to Earning an M.A. or a Ph.D.
  • I maintain some advice for student researchers. This advice illustrates some of the expectations for you in grad school. If it doesn’t frighten you, then graduate school might be a good option.

I want to thank my tweeps for their excellent advice (@tdhopper, @ksphil, @techstepper, and @dianam).


Rich nerd, poor nerd: Show notes from an undergraduate seminar

Updated on 10/11/2011.

Today, I am giving a lecture to the honors students about how to manage their finances after they graduate. I posted my slides here if you’d like to see my presentation.

The podcast has been updated. You can listen to it below or you can go to the OR podcast page.

Show notes:

My justification for paying off student loans is from Megan McArdle at The Atlantic.

Wedding costs and why they are so biased are discussed by Carl Bialik at the WSJ.

Should you use a coupon on a date? I think that is a great opportunity to signal that you are financially savvy–it should attract other like-minded mates. A columnist on the Washington Post agrees. Their non-scientific poll suggests that I am not alone.

My parents could have written this Saturday Night Live skit called “Don’t buy stuff.” It’s not a bad financial philosophy.

Other blog posts on frugality: