INFORMS Open Forum

INFORMS Undergraduate Operations Research Prize: Announcing the finalists

  • 1.  INFORMS Undergraduate Operations Research Prize: Announcing the finalists

    Posted 09-24-2020 08:14
    Edited by Thiago Serra 09-24-2020 09:10
    Dear colleagues,

    It is my great pleasure to announce the finalists of the 2020 INFORMS Undergraduate Operations Research Prize. We received 39 submissions this year, which broke the previous record of 29 in 2018. Among those, 20 were from students in other countries, including Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, China, Colombia, Cyprus, Egypt, Mexico, Singapore, and Turkey. In terms of quality, these submissions were outstanding as well: in the first round of evaluation, the committee members identified 16 applications that they considered worth of being a finalist. After a second round of review, we made some hard choices to narrow it down to a list of 10 finalists. This number was chosen to make it as inclusive as possible while limiting the number of sessions at the INFORMS Annual Meeting to two in order to drive more attendees to the talks by the finalists.

    Incidentally, five of those papers have a more theoretical or methodological nature and another five are focused on applications. We will have one session for each type. The papers in the first session include topics such as federated learning, shortest paths in stochastic time-dependent networks, robust portfolio optimization, and duality and uncertainty in mixed-integer programming. The papers in the second session address problems such as the obesity epidemic, biodiversity conservation, gerrymandering, human trafficking, and operating room scheduling. If you are planning to attend the virtual INFORMS Annual Meeting, I strongly encourage you to attend these two sessions to meet the future of operations research.

    In no particular order of judgement, here are the finalists that will present in the theoretical / methodological session:

    Alex Dunbar (Rice University): Relaxation and Duality for Multiobjective Integer Programming

    Ahmed Khaled (Cairo University, Egypt): Tighter Theory for Local SGD on Identical and Heterogeneous Data

    Bhavik Shah (Cornell University): Mixed Integer Linear Programming Under Preference Uncertainty

    Guan Hoe Tan (Nanyang Technological University, Singapore): Distributionally Robust CVaR Portfolio Optimization under Hidden Markov Regime-Switching Ambiguity

    Daniel Yamin (Universidad de los Andes, Colombia): Exact bidirectional algorithm for the least expected travel-time path problem on stochastic and time-dependent networks

    And here are the finalists that will present in the applied session:

    Anna Deza (University of Toronto, Canada): A Multistage Stochastic Integer Programming Approach to Distributed Operating Room Scheduling

    Christopher Doehring (The University of Southern California): Constructing Data-Driven Uncertainty Sets for Conserving Biodiversity via Robust Optimization

    Malak El Khalkhali (Worcester Polytechnic Institute) and Alex Bender (Northeastern University): Estimating Effectiveness of Identifying Human Trafficking Victims: An Application of Data Envelopment Analysis on the Nepal–India Border

    Wes Gurnee (Cornell University): Fairmandering: A Column Generation Heuristic for Fairness-Optimized Political Redistricting

    Nicholas André G. Johnson (Princeton University): Sequential Stochastic Network Structure Optimization With Applications to Addressing Canada's Obesity Epidemic

    I would like to thank the 2020 committee members Destenie Nock (Carnegie Mellon University), Dong "Michelle" Li (Babson College), Eduardo Perez (Texas State University), Kayse Lee Maass (Northeastern University), Lincoln Chandler (Chandler Decision Services), Neda Mirzaeian (Carnegie Mellon University), Pengyi Shi (Purdue University), Saurav Kumar Dubey (South Dakota School of Mines and Technology), Shannon Harris (Virginia Commonwealth University), Xiaolei Xie (Tsinghua University), and Xuying Zhao (University of Notre Dame) for their diligent evaluation and debate about the submissions; as well as Christy Blevins and Mary Magrogan from INFORMS for their support.


    Thiago Serra
    Assistant Professor of Business Analytics, Bucknell University
    Committee Chair of the 2020 INFORMS Undergraduate Operations Research Prize