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David K Smith
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I am a retired O.R. academic. I spent most of my working life lecturing in O.R. at the University of Exeter. While there I authored three books and numerous papers. This blog reflects my thoughts as an observer trained in O.R.. I also keep a blog about the St Leonard's area of Exeter at http://lookatstls.blogspot.com/ I support the O.R.Society (http://www.theorsociety.com/ and http://www.linkedin.com/groups?gid=3340659&trk=skills) and its initiatives promoting O.R.
I am a retired O.R. academic. I spent most of my working life lecturing in O.R. at the University of Exeter. While there I authored three books and numerous papers. This blog reflects my thoughts as an observer trained in O.R.. I also keep a blog about the St Leonard's area of Exeter at http://lookatstls.blogspot.com/ I support the O.R.Society (http://www.theorsociety.com/ and http://www.linkedin.com/groups?gid=3340659&trk=skills) and its initiatives promoting O.R.

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One-dimensional optimisation, Victorian style
For many years, I taught an undergraduate course on nonlinear optimisation.  It was a subject close to my heart, as it formed a significant part of my PhD thesis.  Nonlinear optimisation is concerned with finding the location (parameter values) and objectiv...

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Logistics do not make good themes for movies
Earlier this month, the blockbuster film "Dunkirk" was launched.  It tells the story - in typical cinema style - of the great evacuation of the British army from the beaches in 1940.  Reviews have celebrated the high quality of the film, the realism of the ...

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How to abuse statistics (again)
Every so often I find misused or misinterpreted statistics which are so flagrant that they are worth sharing with others.  Here goes with another two. (1) The news item read: For years gardeners have been told that tea bags were perfect material for the com...

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Scheduling and Humpty Dumpty
When Alice met Humpty Dumpty in Lewis Carroll's book , Through the Looking-Glass, chapter 6, we are told: “When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means
just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.” “The question is,”...

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Measurement is not (necessarily) controlling - part 2
A little over a year ago, I posted a short reflection on the difference between measurement and control, here .  This month, two things have made me return to that blog. The first was the discovery in a shop of a drinking water bottle with a simple measurin...

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Think - is this number reasonable?
Every so often, numbers get mentioned in the press, on radio or TV, or in conversation, and one wonders if the number is "reasonable".  The late Hans Rosling was very gifted at testing perceptions of numbers relating to health and education. In England, tho...

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An unsavoury interlude
I have stolen the title of this contribution from Rudyard Kipling.  In "Stalky and Co" the three central characters, boys at school in North Devon, are involved in minor rivalry between their house and another.  (In the UK, many elite schools are divided in...

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The utility value of a towel
Sooner or later, students of operational research encounter the economic concept of utility.  It can lead to an interactive lecture, when one offers a volunteer from the class a fair bet of either £0 or £10, and then offers to exchange that bet for a certai...

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Where does operational research fit into a community plan?
It is generally assumed that O.R. people are attached to the
management pyramid, and the alternative title of “Management science” for the
discipline is a reminder of that.   I am
grateful that those who taught me to think like an O.R. person included a few...
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