Monthly Archives: October 2015

INFORMS Annual Meeting 2015

Conference in Philadelphia: INFORMS Annual Meeting 2015

INFORMS Annual Meeting 2015

Operations research and analytics conference

Prof. Charles Nicholson and Weili Zhang will be attending the 2015 INFORMS Annual Meeting in Philadelphia November 1-4 . This conference is one of the top opportunities to connect with leading researchers and practitioners in the field of operations research (OR), management sciences (MS), and analytics. Approximately 5,000 attendees comprised of OR/MS faculty, students, and industry leaders will gather to present their work and connect with their peers.

Dr. Nicholson is the Optimization Network session chair and is presenting Optimal Flow Analysis a novel statistical learning perspective on a classical NP-hard OR problem. Weili Zhang is presenting a novel application based on this same research entitled Regression Based Relaxation.


Title: Optimal Flow Analysis, Prediction and Application

Presenting Author: Charles Nicholson, Assistant Professor, University of Oklahoma
Co-Author: Weili Zhang, Graduate Research Assistant, University of Oklahoma
Session: Optimization Network
Date: Wednesday Nov 04, 12:45 – 14:15

The fixed charge network flow problem is a classic NP-hard problem with many applications. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first paper that employs statistical learning technique to analyze the characteristics of optimal solutions. We develop an accurate propensity model based on this analysis to predict which arcs will have positive flow in an optimal solution. This propensity score allows for multiple applications such as identification of critical components in complex networks.


Title: Regression Based Relaxation Solution Approach For Fixed Charge Network Flow Problem

Presenting Author: Weili Zhang, Graduate Research Assistant, University of Oklahoma
Co-Author: Charles Nicholson, Assistant Professor, University of Oklahoma
Session: Optimization Heuristic Programming
Date: Wednesday Nov 04, 12:45 – 14:15

In this paper, a novel solution approach to the fixed charge network flow (FCNF) problem named regression based relaxation (RBR) is developed. RBR employs the probability of arc usage to form a new linear programming problem. Through rigorous testing, RBR outperforms linear programming relaxation and relaxation induced neighborhood search regardless of the complexity of the problem. In addition, the improvement of integrating RBR in the exact solver is robust for large FCNF problems.

Recruiting grad student for data science project

recruiting students to work on data science project for Nerd Kingdom's product "TUG"

Image from TUG: The Untitled Game

Recruiting for research!

The Analytics Lab is currently recruiting a MS or PhD student to work on 2 year sponsored research from Nerd Kingdom collaboratively with SMU Guildhall.  The project is a data intensive, data science project that requires significant analytical skills and creative thinking.  Nerd Kingdom is a video game technology and research group that is interested in how technology, behavioral science, economics, and game development intersect.

The research position would be dedicated to first helping to design the data capture specifications and subsequently perform data-mining and predictive modeling on player behavior to enhance the gaming experience for their new open-world sandbox game TUG.

Position requirements include (1) strong quantitative analytics capability; expertise/interest in predictive modeling, association mining, and/or clustering, (2) excellent experience with R and/or Python (sciPy), (3)  willing to ramp-up on evolving technologies.

Experience in JavaScript and SQL is a strong plus.

If you are interested in this research opportunity please send your CV to cnicholson @ ou (dot) edu



Norman Transcript: “OU professor leads NSF grant”

Norman Transcript article on Resilience Analytics

Norman Transcript article on Resilience Analytics

A article in the Norman Transcript just came out on the recent NSF Resilience Analytics grant award to OU.   See full article here: OU Prof Leads NSF Grant

The project, led by my colleague Dr. Kash Barker, is bringing “data science” to bear on a very complex and important problem:  Our infrastructure systems (e.g. power, water, transportation, telecommunications, emergency services, etc.) are interrelated and interdependent.   While this necessary to support everyday activities, it also exposes new and complex vulnerabilities within our society.

Dr. Kash Barker gave the following example, “when a large-scale tornado hits, debris may be strewn across roads, power lines disabled and residents injured. The related systems — transportation, power grid and emergency care — rely on each other. Hospitals require electricity to serve an influx of patients, but roads free of debris to repair downed power lines also are required.”

The work that I will be participating on with Dr. Barker, his reasearch lab (Risk-Based Systems Analysis Laboratory) and team will be in employing predictive and prescriptive analytics to get us (community, emergency planners, first-responders) hopefully one or two steps ahead in helping communities recover from disasters.

The Resilience Analytics project has just launched it’s own website: Resilience Analytics




Top row (left to right): Charles Nicholson (OU), Walt Peacock (TAMU); Bottom row (left to right): Nathaniel Rosenheim (TAMU), Bruce Ellingwood (CSU), Naiyu Wang (OU), John van de Lindt (CSU), Harvey Cutler (CSU)


work jointly on an activity, especially to produce or create something

Research teams from the University of Oklahoma, Colorado State University, and Texas A&M all met recently for a two-day research meeting in Fort Collins, CO. The researchers met to discuss and define multiple optimization problems that integrate physical infrastructure, economic impacts, and societal issues into a multiple objective mathematical model.

The way that Social Sciences, Economics, Civil And Industrial Engineering groups are coming together to think about Community Resilience problems and strategies is fascinating.  Through this cooperation, factors outside of any individual’s own field of study, that would have never even remotely been considered otherwise, are being layered into the problem scope in a rich way. This type of collaboration accelerates our mutual learning and appreciation of each others disciplines and opens up new possibilities for exploration that would have been difficult to imagine otherwise.


Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO

This effort to develop an integrated optimization model helps demonstrate the power of collaboration between Industrial and Civil Engineers, Economists, and Social Scientists — and is but the first of a series of more and more challenging tasks ahead.

So far the results have been extremely interesting and here at the Analytics Lab we are looking forward to the opportunity to publish this fascinating work with our esteemed colleagues.

Excellent meeting! Exciting work!

Thanks to the great group of men and women that make this project an excellent one!


Doing good in the community


Dr. Nicholson is a volunteer for and executive member of a recently formed charitable organization “Luggage with Love” that supports foster children and families in and around Norman, Oklahoma.

Foster children are placed, sometimes as emergency placements with little warning, in temporary homes.   These children are not at fault — the reasons for their placements vary, but most situations are very difficult.  The trauma of being removed suddenly from one home and placed in another is already stress enough.

Many times these children arrive to their new families with nothing more than a garbage bag with their things — usually very little and oftentimes no supplies and only the clothes on their backs.  Infants may be placed with no diapers, no formula, no clothes.

It is the mission of Luggage with Love to deliver a suitcase full of seasonally appropriate, correctly fitted clothing and supplies, for FREE, to each new foster or adoptive placement, in Cleveland County, Oklahoma.   We want to give them a gift that will encourage them, and lighten the load for the family receiving them.

Luggage with Love is able to do what it does based on donations of lightly used children’s clothes from people and businesses in the area.  

We are happy to know that News Channel 9 will be airing a story on November 16th about the newly formed Luggage with Love!

If you are or know of a foster family in need, or are interested in donating to help this cause, please connect Luggage With Love for more information.

If you are new to understanding the struggles of foster children and families, check out this video…