Dr. William Pulleyblank Speaks at ISyE's First Distinguished Lecture

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The Stewart School of ISyE's new annual Distinguished Lecture Series is designed to bring in highly prominent speakers who have made a significant contribution to society through research areas of interest to ISyE faculty and students and to provide a forum for the students, faculty, staff and alumni from the Georgia Tech community to interact with the distinguished lecturer.

On April 17, 2008, the H. Milton Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineering hosted its First Distinguished Lecture, with over 103 alumni, faculty and students in attendance.

The premier address was presented by Dr. William "Bill* Pulleyblank, Vice President of the Center for Business Optimization at IBM Global Business Services. His presentation focused on the numerous opportunities and challenges in computing, business, and operations research.

"The first lecture in our Distinguished Lecture Series was a terrific success,* said Chelsea C. White III, ISyE School Chair. "Attendance was excellent, and the number of faculty and students outside of ISyE who attended was gratifying.*

If you happened to miss Dr. Pulleyblank's phenomenal presentation, visit
to download the video and Power Point presentation.

Presentation Abstract:
In addition to conventional business data collected in corporate databases, there are increasing amounts of machine-generated data being produced and collected. At the same time, we see remarkable advances in the availability and price performance of computing platforms that can be used to support business decisions based on this data. These factors have created numerous opportunities and challenges. The presentation will focus on addressing five major issues:

* How do we deal with massive amounts of "noisy* data?
* Can we develop adequate methods for handling risk and uncertainty?
* How should we deal with issues of distributed data and computation?
* What does it require for operational systems to match the sophistica*tion of long term planning systems?
* How do we adapt these capabilities to the emerging networked busi*ness world?

Businesses are steadily, but slowly, transforming the way that they perform their operations and planning. The types of tools that were at one time limited to very large enterprises are now being used by smaller businesses and even individuals. There is an increasing desire to combine data from a variety of sources with analytic methods to enable more rapid and better decision-making. This is driven in part by the economic pressures created by the need to both compete globally and to exploit global resources, and is enabled by the maturing of methods, tools and underlying technologies.

Dr. William R. Pulleyblank, IBM Vice President, is the leader of the Center for Business Optimization within IBM Business Consulting Services. This group develops and deploys high powered optimization and analytic capabilities to improve the business performance of a broad range of companies.

Prior to this, he was the Director of Exploratory Server Systems and Director of the Deep Computing Institute within IBM Research. These research teams provided broad-based support to IBM's server activities as well as leading research in high performance computing. This included the Blue Gene project, which led to the creation of the Blue Gene/L supercomputer which has been certified as the most powerful supercomputer in the world since 2004. He also served as the Research relationship executive responsible for the Financial Services sector in IBM, the Utility and Energy Services industry, and for the Business Intelligence group. He was Director of Mathematical Sciences in IBM Research from 1995 to 2000.

Dr. Pulleyblank has served on a number of boards and advisory panels, including the Advisory Committee of the Division of Mathematics & Physical Sciences of the National Science Foundation, the Board on Mathematical Sciences of the National Research Council (US), the iCORE Board of Directors, the Science Advisory Board of the National Institute of Aerospace, and the Scientific Advisory Panel of The Fields Institute for Research in Mathematical Sciences (Toronto). He is a member of the Board of Regents of Canada's National Institute of Nanotechnology. In addition, he serves on the editorial boards of a number of journals.

Dr. Pulleyblank is the IBM Partnership Executive for the University of Minnesota and has served on the Industrial Advisory Committee for the Institute for Mathematics and its Applications at the University of Minnesota as well as on the board of governors, which he chaired in 1998.

Before joining IBM in 1990, he held faculty positions in mathematics and computer science at the University of Calgary and the University of Waterloo. He was the holder of the Canadian Pacific NSERC Chair of Optimization and Computer Applications at the University of Waterloo from 1987 to 2000.

His personal research interests are in operations research, combinatorial optimization and applications of optimization. In addition to writing scientific papers and books, he has consulted for several companies including: Mobil Oil on helicopter routing; Marks and Spencer on depot management; Statistics Canada on survey validation; and CP Rail on train scheduling. He is a coauthor of the graduate textbook Combinatorial Optimization, (Wiley, 1999) in addition to a number of research papers and book chapters.

Dr. Pulleyblank was awarded an honorary doctorate from The College of St. Rose and has been appointed a Fellow of the Fields Institute of Mathematical Sciences and member of Omega Rho, the International Honor Society of The Institute for Operations Research and Management Science. In 2005 he was awarded a Faculty of Mathematics Alumni Achievement Medal by the University of Waterloo and an Alberta Centennial Medal in recognition of contributions to the province of Alberta.


  • Workflow Status: Published
  • Created By: Barbara Christopher
  • Created: 04/29/2008
  • Modified By: Fletcher Moore
  • Modified: 10/07/2016

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