O.R./Analytics in Action Blog

Since President Obama famously fills out his NCAA men’s basketball tournament bracket each year, we thought we’d ask Ed Kaplan, president of INFORMS, for his picks. Kaplan, a professor at Yale University whose research generally focuses on informing public policy on such critical issues as healthcare and antiterrorism, teaches a course on sports analytics and co-authored (with Stan Garstka) an article, “March Madness and the Office Pool,” for the highly respected academic journal Management Science. Kaplan’s pick to win it all this year is Kansas, “even though that means picking UConn to lose,” says the 30-year resident of Connecticut.
Following the logic espoused in his article, Kaplan used a dynamic program to fill out the brackets backward. Instead of starting by picking first-round winners and advancing them in a similar fashion, the self-described  “Member-in-Chief” of INFORMS first asked who he expects to win the entire tournament (Kansas), and then enters Kansas to win in all earlier rounds. The next question: Who loses to Kansas in the final? The model suggests that the best pick is Michigan State. Continuing backward to the national semifinals, the model picks Oklahoma and North Carolina to round out the Final Four. If you’re one of the more than 40 million people filling out a bracket this week, you can use the same model at a website created by Tom Adams.
Kaplan is one of several prominent members of INFORMS who have put some serious science into their “bracketology.” For example, Sheldon Jacobson of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champagne and the treasurer of INFORMS, has organized a website along with his students that focuses on bracket odds. Meanwhile, a team of professors at Georgia Tech led by Joel Sokol developed the LRMC (Bayesian) ranking system, which the New York Times described as “influential in the seeding process” in its coverage of March Madness in the March 14 edition. Laura Albert McLay, associate professor at the University of Wisconsin and vice president of marketing, communications and outreach for INFORMS, explains bracketology and Markov chains in a YouTube video.
Let the games (and the madness) begin.

I have had a strong interest in answering screening policy questions associated with breast cancer since 2006. Questions such as when to start and screening or how often to screen women are among the most controversial issues regarding breast cancer, the most common non-skin cancer in US women. Although mammography is the most effective modality for breast cancer screening, it has several potential risks including high false-positive rates. Therefore, the balance of benefits and risks is critical in designing a mammography screening schedule, which requires a formal framework to evaluate these effects such as simulation modeling.

View Full Post »

In this post, Bo Zhang describes how analytics can improve performance in call centers. He won the 2010 Nicholson prize for his research and is now a research staff member at the Business Analytics and Mathematical Sciences Department of the IBM T.J. Watson Research Center.

View Full Post »

Prof Sandra Eksioglu on Biomass-for-Biofuel Supply Chain Design and Management Tools

View Full Post »

In this blog post, Prof Archis Ghate of the University of Washington in Seattle describes how operations research can help make adaptive individualized radiotherapy a reality. He received the NSF CAREER Award in 2011 for his research.

View Full Post »

Operations research, analytics, and management science are making a major impact in business, government, and the research world. Read further to learn about award-winning projects that exemplify how operations research is helping decision-makers and people like you

View Full Post »

RSS Feed


The purpose of this blog is to publish posts showcasing research in operations research and management science (funded research or research recommended to PIC as particularly promising), as well as papers and dissertations recognized for their novelty by being selected as finalists in INFORMS paper competitions. (This includes competitions run by INFORMS societies and sections.)

Recent Posts

Tag cloud

Submit a blog

Bloggers include winners and finalists in INFORMS competitions and INFORMS Community competitions, as well as recipients of grants. If you’re interested in submitting a blogpost, contact the INFORMS Public Information Committee (PIC) at picchair@mail.informs.org. Click here to review the guidelines.