Thursday, April 20, 2006

IBM's Center for Business Optimization

I am in New York to give a talk to IBM's Center for Business Optimization. Bill Pulleyblank is heading this activity. Bill has had a really interesting career: he started in academia, and did really fundamental work in combinatorial optimization. He then moved to IBM, starting at Watson Research and moving on to doing things like heading the Blue Gene Project, which created the world's fastest supercomputer. CBO is a startup with IBM that tries to merge the assets of IBM (software packages, etc.) with the consulting skills of IBM Business Consultants (formerly PriceWaterhouseCooper's consulting arm).

It is exciting to see a company like IBM take optimization seriously. The projects I have chatted with people about look like "real" optimization and business analytics: data mining and modeling approaches to fraud dectection (both tax fraud and Medicare fraud), supply chain optimization, marketing design, and so on. They have a number of case studies that outline their various projects.


Blogger Dr. George said...

I'm interested in what you had to say -- any comments about your talk?

April 20, 2006 8:22 PM  
Blogger Michael Trick said...

My main goal was to show how wonderful and exciting optimization is. I talked about two projects I have done: capital budgeting for the Internal Revenue Service and scheduling for Major League Baseball. A couple general conclusions:

"Optimization breeds optimization": once optimization is used within a company, new needs/applications abound. The problem is getting the first successful project done.

Optimization keeps organizations honest. Even when they don't follow the recommendations of the model, at least they know the tradeoffs they are making.

I think the talk went well: it was an audience well disposed to the message!

April 26, 2006 6:24 AM  

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