This is the class blog for ISYE 823, a seminar course on public sector operations research in Spring 2016. The course is entitled “Discrete optimization modeling techniques for public services, homeland security, and disasters.” This course is taught by Dr. Laura Albert McLay, an Associate Professor of Industrial and Systems Engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The posts are written by students in the class about topics tangentially related to information we encounter in class reading or discussions.

A copy of the course syllabus is here.

The rationale for the course blog is the following:

Rationale: My goal for this course is for you to learn a great deal about public sector operations research during the course of this semester. Students learn the most when they apply the material though assignments, problem sets, etc. Since we will not have formal homework assignments, it will be easy to sit back during class and not absorb or analyze the topics in course. I do not want to short circuit your learning. Therefore, all students are required to publicly reflect on the information that is encountered during the course via a blog as an avenue for exploring the material more deeply and to learn about the material.

Pedagogy: A good summary is here: http://chronicle.com/article/A-Social-Network-Can-Be-a/129609/

Research by Richard Light, the author and Harvard University scholar, and others indicates that when students are asked to write for one another, they write more effectively. This is perhaps counterintuitive. Wouldn’t students do their best work for those grading their work? But students aren’t eager to be seen as poor writers by their peers, so they step up their game when writing for other students. Also, they know that their peers don’t understand the course content as well as their instructors do, so they tend to provide better explanations when writing for peers.

Desired outcomes: Students who more deeply understand the material and are in better position to add to our base of knowledge through their research.

WisconsinIdea_w_in_bulb-535pxAnother part of the rationale is to contribute to the Wisconsin Ideathe principle that the university should improve people’s lives beyond the classroom. It spans UW–Madison’s teaching, research, outreach and public service. We hope to discuss how some of the methods we develop in academia are not just ivory tower exercises–they contribute to our world in practical and meaningful ways in addition to our scientific knowledge base.

If you want to pop in and check out the new posts, here is the schedule of due dates:

Writing deadlines:

  • Tuesday, February 2
  • Tuesday, February 16
  • Tuesday, March 1
  • Tuesday, March 15
  • Tuesday, March 29
  • Tuesday, April 12
  • Tuesday, April 26
  • Tuesday, May 10

I’ve stolen the verbage below from Evelyn Lamb’s math course blog.

Copyright: All authors on this blog retain copyright to their work. Please do not republish without permission.

Comment policy: Like a post? Have a correction or clarification? Please leave a comment! Your comment may be held in moderation, so don’t panic if it doesn’t show up immediately. Remember that authors and other commenters are all humans and treat each other accordingly. Comments that are offensive, abusive, or off-topic will be deleted.

Disclaimer: Unless otherwise noted, all posts on this site are written by students for a class and are intended to be both entertaining and informational. But it is not a trustworthy source at the level of a textbook, journal article, or encyclopedia entry. If your bridge design or surgery technique relies on the accuracy of information you find here, please verify it with a trusted source outside of this blog. Students will include links to references in and at the bottom of posts, so you can start there.