Main | Second Visit from the Analytics Genie »

02/23/2011

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While "algorithm performance tuning" isn't necessarily a burden for "one-off" studies, practical production applications using simulation optimization can't impose that kind of skill burden on users. Something is needed that will help users to see and understand the consequences of different model assumptions. It's hard enough to persuade users to even TRY simulation optimization--though they're pretty thrilled when they do.

Mehdi Amini

Hi Fred:

I am glad to know that the Analytical Genie has visited you and convinced you to begin your new blog! I look forward to reading the comments and your next installments. Based on our works at the FedEx Center for Supply Chain Management and enterprise Simulation and Optimization Lab (eSOL) with industries, your first wish is mine too!

Dr. Frank Grange

Fred, As a second wish, I suggest asking the Genie for a simulation optimization capability requiring minimal algorithm expertise from the user. In my multiple encounters with discrete optimization at Lockheed Martin, I've frequently found that even slightly changing a problem's structure, or even sometimes just its data, can seriously impair a discrete optimization heuristic's solution quality ("nearness" to a global optimum), runtime performance, etc. This type of situation often arises because it’s impossible to see all of the factors that are relevant to a model at the start, and so decision makers need to be able to revise various aspects of a model. Such tuning is usually an art, not a science.

While "algorithm performance tuning" isn't necessarily a burden for "one-off" studies, practical production applications using simulation optimization can't impose that kind of skill burden on users. Something is needed that will help users to see and understand the consequences of different model assumptions. It's hard enough to persuade users to even TRY simulation optimization--though they're pretty thrilled when they do.

Incidentally, this Genie seems to impose an awful lot of Terms and Conditions (Ts & Cs)--are you sure he doesn't work for the US Government?

Dr. Francisco Zagmutt

Dear Fred,

My kudos for this entertaining and well thought out first blog entry! I definitively agree with your first request to the Genie, as I can attest to the importance of combining simulation and optimization in the consulting and research work we do at EpiX Analytics. Most of the real-world models we get to build for our clients can not be solved analytically, so stochastic optimization is really key to what we do.

I am looking forward to read about the next wish you have for the Genie!

Dr. Francisco Zagmutt
Managing Partner
EpiX Analytics

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