Carnegie Mellon University


September 12, 2019

YinzOR Conference Brings Operations Research Experts to Tepper

The 2019 academic conference invited investigators from operations research, management science, and industrial engineering to present their work.

This summer, the CMU INFORMS Student Chapter organized the third annual YinzOR Student Conference — a single-track academic conference focused on operations research, management science, and industrial engineering.

Violet Chen, a Ph.D. student in operations research at the Tepper School of Business, was a 2019 YinzOR committee co-chair. “YinzOR was the brainchild of a couple of our senior Ph.D. students in the operations research program back in 2017,” she said. “We are still largely driven by the purpose that YinzOR was founded to serve.” The event invites researchers in optimization and other related topics to the Tepper Quad for networking and knowledge sharing. 

One of the featured speakers was Tepper School doctoral graduate Thiago Serra (Ph.D. 2018), Assistant Professor of Business Analytics at Bucknell University, who attended the 2017 conference as a Ph.D. student. He was selected by the student planners this year to speak on his research “Bounding and Counting Linear Regions of Deep Neural Networks.” “It was a great honor to receive their invitation,” he said. “The audience was attentive, and I got some interesting questions in the end.”

Serra conducted the research in his last year at the Tepper School with collaborators Christian Tjandraatmadja (Ph.D. 2018) and Srikumar Ramalingam, Associate Professor in the School of Computing at the University of Utah. Published at the 2018 International Conference on Machine Learning, the paper investigates how neural networks analyze data. 

In addition to Serra, the conference invited researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of Chicago, Columbia University, Cornell University, and the Georgia Institute of Technology, as well as Tepper School Ph.D. student Neda Mirzaeian. “We hope all participants learned something interesting from the talks and met new people in the field,” Chen said. “I was reminded that in our field of operations research and management science, there are so many interesting research questions and so many knowledgeable, passionate, and friendly peers.” 

The program ran from the afternoon of Friday, Aug. 23 through the evening of Saturday, Aug. 24 and included individual research presentations as well as poster and flash talk competitions. The sessions were structured in a single-track schedule, meaning all attendees had the opportunity to attend every presentation. “Keeping it at single track ensures each talk session has large enough participation and allows the organizing committee to focus on the quality of talks rather than quantity,” Chen said. “We think it is beneficial to let participants hear talks on diverse topics, which may open up unexpected opportunities or even inspire new research interests.”

Secil Sozuer, a Ph.D. candidate in industrial and systems engineering at Lehigh University, attended YinzOR in 2018 and returned to the Tepper School for the conference this year. “I had a chance to attend interesting presentations and learn beyond my field,” she said. “I was able to get together with people from similar backgrounds, and I expanded my knowledge on recent research areas.”

The conference was supported by sponsors FedEx, McKinsey & Company, and Simio, in addition to the Tepper School, which helped the group to provide hotel accommodations for out-of-town participants like Sozuer. 

“As a co-chair of the event, I am truly grateful for this chance to push myself,” Chen said. “As a team, we achieved something great due to nothing but passion, beliefs, and trust for each other.”