ORSNZ Conference 2019 Survey

We hope you have all had a good break over the summer. As you know, the work never stops at ORSNZ, so we’ve been eagerly planning the 2019 ORSNZ Conference.

This year, NZSA will be holding their conference in Dunedin, which is not a particularly strong location for ORSNZ. For this reason, we wish to get some (non-binding) feedback from our members on where we should hold the conference.

The duration and fee structure of the conference will be tied to NZSA if we run the conference in Dunedin, so it would be at least 3 days.  If we run the conference separately, we anticipate that it will be 2 days, and we will have more control of the schedule. (We will endeavour to keep fees as low as possible.)

Note that the analytics forum will be running an event with NZSA in Dunedin, so will likely not run an event with ORSNZ, if we elect to run a separate conference.

Please complete the brief survey here; if you have any additional comments about the location / structure of ORSNZ conferences, please comment on this post.


Shane Henderson wins INFORMS Daniel H. Wagner Prize

I am very pleased to announce that Auckland University graduate and ORSNZ member, Prof Shane Henderson, has been awarded the INFORMS Daniel H. Wagner Prize  for Excellence in the Practice of Advanced Analytics and Operations Research. Shane and colleagues at Cornell, Uber and Lyft were awarded this prize for  their application of analytics and O.R. to improve the placement of bike docking stations and create an inventive approach to replenish and rebalance these docking stations. Read more….

Hans Daellenbach Prize Event for Prof Vicky Mabin

By Mike O’Sullivan, ORSNZ President:

It was my pleasure to fly to Wellington to present Prof Vicky Mabin with her Hans Daellenbach Prize. A/Prof Bob Cavana organised an excellent event at which Vicky’s colleagues and students, alongside the Victoria University of Wellington Provost Professor Wendy Larner and local ORSNZ members, honoured Vicky’s distinguished and pioneering career. Special thanks to Bob, Tony Downward (who was responsible for the framed prize in the photos), Andrea Raith, Rosie Read (the ORSNZ Wellington Region contact) and other members of the prize panel (Grant Read and Golbon Zakeri).

My initial impression of Vicky was of a (slightly intimidating) leader of OR in New Zealand. Any discussion of OR in New Zealand at Auckland would inevitably end with “we should talk to Grant (Read at Canterbury), Vicky (at VUW), and Les (Foulds at Waikato)”. I was fortunate at the ORSNZ conference in Christchurch in 2015 to get stuck looking for a taxi with Vicky and Sarah Marshall. In the ensuing conversation I got to know Vicky a little and gained an increased understanding and appreciation of her work. Since then I have enjoyed our discussions on OR and the Theory of Constraints and my experience in OR consultancy over the past 5+ years has convinced me that Vicky’s “soft OR” has a vital part to play if we, as OR practitioners, are successful in embedding best-practice decision making in organisations throughout NZ and worldwide.

Vicky’s colleagues and students were generous in their praise and admiration of Vicky, who responded with an engaging, illuminating acceptance speech (that only increased my interest in collecting stories about the history of the ORSNZ!). Congratulations and well done Prof Vicky Mabin, Hans Daellenbach Prize recipient for 2017!

The full citation for Vicky’s prize is here: http://orsnz.org.nz/Prizes/VickyMabin2017/Prof%20Vicky%20Mabin%20-%20Citation%20for%20Hans%20Daellenbach%20Award.pdf

The Victoria University of Wellington article on the event is here: https://www.victoria.ac.nz/vbs/about/news/1715544-professor-vicky-mabin-receives-orsnz-hans-daellenbach-prize

Winners of the Inaugural John Andrew George Memorial Prize

At the 2017 ORSNZ the first John Andrew George Memorial Prizes were awarded. This prize was established by Grant Read, Vicky Mabin, Bob Cavana, and John Buchanan in memory of former ORSNZ Vice President John George, who passed away in November last year.

While most OR projects are expected to deliver “benefits” of various kinds, the emphasis here is not on purely economic, or even purely environmental, benefits, but on efforts to better the lives of others.  It is thus about the motivation, heart and soul of the project.  So the key consideration was be the following question:

“How will this work contribute to improving the quality of people’s lives, particularly those who may otherwise be vulnerable or disadvantaged, now, or in future?”

This prize was open to all papers presented for the YPP, and was awarded jointly to:

Samuel Ridler – Ambulance simulation and optimisation; and
Samin ArefComputing the frustration index in signed graphs using binary programming.

Left to right: Samuel Riddler (JAG Award Winner), Grant Read, Vicky Mabin, Bob Cavana (judges), and Michael O’Sullivan (ORSNZ President).

ORSNZ Hans Daellenbach Prize awarded to Prof. Vicky Mabin

At the 2017 ORSNZ Conference Prof. Vicky Mabin was awarded the Hans Daellenbach Prize. Part of the citation is given below:

We have great pleasure in announcing that Professor Victoria Jane Mabin, from Victoria University of Wellington, has been awarded the ORSNZ Hans Daellenbach Award for outstanding contributions to Operational Research in New Zealand. This award is made particularly for “Applied OR”, and Professor Mabin has been active not only as an academic but, along with her students, in a variety of applied contexts, for over 30 years. She has also been an active contributor to the OR Society, of which she is a Past President.

You can find the full citation, along with her CV on the ORSNZ Prizes page.

From left to right: Prof. Vicky Mabin, Prof. Grant Read, Dr Michael J O’Sullivan, and Bob Cavana.


Young Practitioner’s Prize Winners 2017

At the 51st ORSNZ Conference held in December 2017, we had 14 entries into the Young Practitioner’s Prize, which was sponsored by Trustpower. There were three prizes awarded:

  • 1st Place: Oscar Dowson – SDDP.jl: a Julia package for Stochastic Dual Dynamic Programming
  • 2nd Place: Thomas Adams – Balancing Physician Workloads Under Uncertain Admissions
  • 3rd Place: Isaac Cleland – Solving a Generalised Staff Rostering Problem

Dr Michael J O’Sullivan (ORSNZ President) and Mr Danny Tsai (Trustpower) present YPP certificates to Oscar Dowson (left), Thomas Adams (middle), and Isaac Cleland (right)

In memoriam: John Andrew George (30-11-1945 – 1-11-2017)

Dr John George unexpectedly passed away last Wednesday (November 1). John was a former vice-president of the Operations Research Society of New Zealand, and Editor of the Newsletter.

Here are a selection of newsletters where John contributed editorials: September 1998March 1999December 1999.

His memorial service will be held at 2pm on November 6. You can view the service live here. For the next three months, you can watch a recording of the service here. Log in using the Event ID westparkchapel, and Password ESZFRF.

We would like to recognise John’s contribution to OR in New Zealand at the upcoming conference, so if you have any memories of John George which you would like to share, please email [email protected].

NZ connections in latest edition of Optima

Congratulations to Mike O’Sullivan, Andrew Mason, Iain Dunning and Stu Mitchell (University of Auckland, Department of Engineering Science faculty and alumni) who all feature in the latest edition of Optima, the newsletter of the Mathematical Optimization Society.

The newsletter is available here: http://www.mathopt.org/Optima-Issues/optima103.pdf

Postgraduate scholarships at UOA

Three postgraduate scholarships are currently available at the University of Auckland. Click on the links below for more information.