Ratkaisuja viheliäisiin ongelmiin?

TkT Tommi Ekholm
Tutkimusprofessori (ilmastonmuutoksen hillintä), Ilmatieteen laitos

Voiko operaatiotutkimuksen menetelmillä ratkoa viheliäisiä ongelmia (wicked problems)? Horst Rittel esitteli vuonna 1967 tämän käsitteen, joka tarkoittaa useita ristiriitaisia tavoitteita ja päätöksentekijöitä käsittäviä tilanteita, joissa informaatio on epätäydellistä ja mahdollisesti ristiriitaista. Perinteisten operaatiotutkimuksen työkalujen mielessä tämänkaltainen päätöksentekotilanne on huonosti määritelty: sille ei voida ilmaista tavoitteita, päätösvaihtoehtoja eikä vaihtoehdoista seuraavia lopputulemia.

Käsitteen puolesta vastaus on ei: mikäli ongelma voitaisiin ratkaista, se ei olisi alun perinkään viheliäinen ongelma. Sen sijaan operaatiotutkimus voi auttaa hahmottelemaan ratkaisuja ja niiden mahdollisia vaikutuksia, esimerkiksi yksi perspektiivi tai tavoite kerrallaan. Tätä kautta ongelmalle voidaan saada tarkempaa muotoa ja rakennetta.

Operaatiotutkimuksessa käytettyjen formaalien ja kvantitatiivisten mallien etu on niiden eksplisiittinen luonne. Niissä kerrotaan tarkkaan, miten asioita arvioidaan ja arvotetaan, sekä miten maailman oletetaan toimivan. Tätä kautta mallien kautta saadut ratkaisut altistetaan kritiikille, joka auttaa tunnistamaan miten menetelmiä ja ehdotettuja ratkaisuja tulisi kehittää.

Tässä piileekin sudenkuoppa. Mallit voivat antaa kuvan, että ongelma tunnetaan läpikotaisin. Optimointialgoritmi antaa ratkaisun kymmenen desimaalin tarkkuudella ja mallin käyttäjä voi rohkeana esittää sen olevan Optimi. Viheliäinen ongelma on kesytetty.

Mallien tarkkuus on kuitenkin näennäistä. Mallista puuttuu aina osa todellisuudesta, eikä ratkaisu ole koskaan pilkulleen oikein. Viheliäisten ongelmien tapauksessa laskentamallit antavat tarkan vastauksen epätarkkaan ongelmaan. On tunnistettava ja tunnustettava, että ehdotettujen ratkaisuiden tulee olla debatin alla, ja tämä debatti voi antaa ideoita siihen, miten mallinnusta tulisi kehittää parempien ratkaisujen löytämiseksi. Jos luulee kesyttäneensä viheliäisien ongelman, todellisuudessa siitä on lohkaistu vain palanen.

Ilmastonmuutos, joka on oma tutkimusaiheeni, täyttää monta viheliäisen ongelman tunnuspiirrettä. Ongelma ja sen ratkaisut ajoittuvat pitkälle aikavälille ja vaikuttaa sekä taloudellisiin että ei-taloudellisiin kysymyksiin. Pitkä aikaväli johtaa taloudellisissa kysymyksissä diskonttaukseen, mutta ei-taloudellisten vaikutusten osalta kysymys kääntyy eri sukupolvien väliseen tasa-arvoon, jonka diskonttaus on kiistanalaista. Ei ole myöskään selvää, miten ei-taloudellisia vaikutuksia, kuten elinolosuhteiden muutoksia tai lajien sukupuuttoa tulisi arvottaa, esimerkiksi suhteessa toisiinsa tai yhteiskunnan taloudelliseen hyvinvointiin. Asian ratkaisuun liittyvä päätöksenteko on seitsemän miljardin ihmisen käsissä, tai vähintään kahdensadan valtiojohtajan käsissä. Lisäksi sekä ratkaisuihin että vaikutuksiin liittyy huomattavaa epävarmuutta.

Vuonna 2018 taloustieteen Nobel-palkinto myönnettiin William Nordhausille, jonka talous- ja luonnontiedettä yhdistävä mallinnustyö aloitti kokonaan uuden tutkimussuuntauksen: ilmastotalouden ja ns. Inegrated Assessment -mallinnuksen. Hänen lähestymistapansa oli yksinkertaisuudessaan kuvata ilmastonmuutos ja sen vaikutukset talouskasvumallissa taloudellisina menetyksinä, jolloin mallille voidaan määrittää yksikäsitteinen tavoite maksimoida ihmiskunnan taloudellista hyötyä diskontattuna useiden vuosisatojen yli.

Lähestymistapa on saanut paljon kritiikkiä. Mm. reaalioptioiden pioneeri Robert Pindyck on esittänyt Nordhausin tekevän implisiittisesti merkittäviä arvovalintoja, lakaisevan epävarmuudet maton alle, sekä tulosten lähinnä heijastelevan oletuksia useista huonosti tunnetuista parametreista.

Itse allekirjoitan Pindyckin kritiikin pääpiirteissään. En pidä Nordhausin mallin antamia numeroita kovin luotettavina, saati hyödyllisinä käytännön päätöksentekoa ajatellen. Sen sijaan arvostan sitä, miten Nordhausin uraauurtava työ on antanut viheliäiselle ongelmalle muotoa ja tarttumapintaa, josta lähtien sitä voi lähestyä. Vaikka Nordhausin lähestymistavassa on merkittäviä puutteita, ilmasto-ongelman lähestymien eksplisiittisen laskentamallin avulla myös paljastaa tarkastelutavan heikkoudet ja miten sitä tulisi täydentää. Koko ongelman viheliäisyydestä kertoo kuitenkin se, että ongelmaan ei ole syntynyt lähes 30 vuoden kuluessa mitään uutta ja poikkeuksellista läpimurtoa.

Voisi ajatella, että mallien roolia viheliäisten ongelmien ratkaisussa tulee pohtia tarkkaan.

Jos viheliäiseen ongelmaan pyritään hakemaan optimiratkaisua, tavoitellaan mahdotonta. Ehkä maltillisempi tavoite olisi jo riittävä. Voidaan ehkä vain sulkea pois huonoja vaihtoehtoja, jolloin jäljelle jää vielä joukko eri tavoin tosiaan parempia ja huonompia ratkaisuja, mutta jotka ovat ehkä jollain tavalla hyväksyttäviä. Tällöin tulee elää sen kanssa, että ratkaisu on aina hieman epätyydyttävä.

Lopulta malli ei tee päätöksiä, vaan päätöksentekijä punnitsee kuinka hyvin mallilla saatava tuki päätöksenteolle kuvaa todellisuuden ongelmaa sen kaikessa viheliäisyydessään. Tällöin korostuu mallin ja sillä tehdyn analyysin uskottavuus, läpinäkyvyys ja ymmärrettävyys. Harva päätöksentekijä ottaa vastaan informaatiota, jonka lähdettä ja taustaa hän ei ymmärrä.

Tällöinkään viheliäinen ongelma ei ole vielä kesytetty. Jäljelle jää vielä haaste usean päätöksentekijän tavoitteiden sovittamisesta yhteen. Ehkä näemme tulevaisuudessa uusia lähestymistapoja, jotka auttavat tämänkin näkökulman ratkaisemisessa hyväksyttävällä tavalla.

Kirjallisuutta:

Churchman, C.W. (1967) Wicked Problems. Management Science 14(4), ss. B-141 – B-142.

Ekholm, T. (2018). Climatic Cost-benefit Analysis Under Uncertainty and Learning on Climate Sensitivity and Damages. Ecological Economics 154, ss. 99–106.

Nordhaus, W.D. (1992) An Optimal Transition Path for Controlling Greenhouse Gases, Science 258, ss. 1315–1319.

Nordhaus, W.D. (2017) Revisiting the social cost of carbon. PNAS 114(7), ss. 1518–1523.

Pindyck, R. (2013) Climate Change Policy: What Do the Models Tell Us? Journal of Economic Literature 51(3), ss. 860–872.

Rittel, H. & Webber, M.M. (1973) Dilemmas in a General Theory of Planning. Policy Sciences 4, ss. 155–169.

EURO Support for NATCOR bursaries

NATCOR (http://www.natcor.ac.uk/), a National Taught Course Centre in Operational Research, delivers taught courses to PhD students, from across Europe, on a number of different topics in OR. In 2021. it is anticipated that all courses will be offered online, at least until summer, with the potential for residential courses in the UK after that time.

EURO is advertising a competition for bursaries. The NATCOR course fees and accommodation (if applicable) will be funded by EURO for successful candidates. (Typically, accommodation for any residential courses will be for bed and breakfast). Any extra costs incurred will need to be settled personally.

EURO is pleased to announce the availability of a limited number of bursaries for PhD students to attend NATCOR courses. https://www.euro-online.org/web/pages/1568/natcor-bursaries

*NEW Behavioural OR and System Dynamics, 18-22 Jan 2021 – Online delivery
*Forecasting & Predictive Analysis, 22-26 February 2021 – Online Delivery
*Stochastic Modelling, April 2021 (Date to be confirmed)– Online Delivery
*Simulation, July 2021 (Date to be confirmed) – Online Delivery
*Combinatorial Optimization, September 2021 (Date to be confirmed)- Online Delivery

Applicants must be PhD students, from one of the EURO member countries or studying in one of the EURO member countries. (see https://www.euro-online.org/web/pages/1457/current-member-societies). Applicants must have good English Language skills as all NATCOR courses will be in English. Preference will be given to students in their first or second years, but all are welcome to apply. Preference will also be given to applicants who have not previously received support from EURO for NATCOR or other PhD schools.

To apply for a bursary, candidates from a EURO member society country, or studying in a EURO member society country, should submit a zip file containing the application form, their curriculum vitae (including their academic track record), a letter outlining their motivation to attend, and a letter of recommendation from their supervisor to https://www.euro-online.org/awards/natcor2021/registration.php

Applicants should declare on their application if they are receiving any additional support from their PhD funding body or other sponsor.

Important Dates

Deadline for applications: January 20, 2021

Notification of acceptance: February 15, 2021

Master’s thesis (DI) position: RESEARCH ASSISTANT IN COVID-19 MODELLING

Application DL: 15 Dec 2020 (all applications before this will be considered)
Start time: As soon as possible, but negotiable
Duration: 12 months

Do you want to use your skills in data science and modelling to help fight COVID-19 and future pandemics? Join our international team of scholars in mathematics, statistics, and complex systems as a research assistant. There is a possibility to write a MSc thesis as part of this project.

Your main task is to develop and maintain our data pipelines. You will gather new data sources related to human mobility and social contacts, develop automated procedures to aggregate such data, and maintain our public data repository. The project involves both public data sources (e.g. road traffic reports) and private and possibly sensitive data. In addition to working directly with data, you will participate in the modelling research together with various specialists.

The position is a part of a new Nordic research project with Aalto University, Stockholm University, and University of Oslo. The project will develop new methods for analysing and controlling the spread of COVID-19 based on novel data streams and advanced statistical models related to human mobility and social contacts. The project is funded by the NordForsk organisation under the Nordic Council of Ministers. In Aalto, the project is coordinated by Lasse Leskelä, Tapio Ala-Nissilä, and Mikko Kivelä.

We are looking for:
– Solid study record in statistics, biostatistics, machine learning, mathematics, network science, operations research, or a related field
– Programming skills (minimum Python/R, C++ can be an advantage)
– Basic computer skills: Git, Unix, LaTeX, etc.
– Experience and enthusiasm with working with data
– Fluent oral and written communication skills in English. Communication skills in Finnish and Swedish can be considered an advantage
– High motivation to combine relevant elements from computational/mathematical/statistical disciplines to answer public health questions
– Teamwork experience and excellent communication skills
– Ability to work independently and efficiently

Send us your cv and study record before 15 Dec 2020 by email to mikko.kivela@aalto.fi For more information, see https://nordicmathcovid.cs.aalto.fi

Data and models in healthcare: how to make justifiable decisions in a complex system? | Nov 3rd, 2020

Due to the COVID-19 situation, THE EVENT WILL BE ORGANIZED AS A WEBINAR – NO ON-SITE PARTICIPATION

Join the seminar:
https://aalto.zoom.us/j/61917631217

FORS and the Finnish Society of Automation will organize a joint seminar on November 3rd, 2020 14:00-18:00. The seminar discusses the role and opportunities of data and modeling in various parts of the health care system. The speakers represent both academic research and application in business and public service.

Due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, the seminar is organized as a webinar. All participants will receive webinar details shortly before the event. (This has changed from the original hybrid model idea. In short, now there will be no physical event. )

Register here!

Program

“System dynamics and design thinking as tools for making sense of complicated societal ecosystems”
Peter Ylén, Principal  Scientist/Team Leader, VTT

“Healthcare operations management – from data to knowledge”
Toni Ruohonen, CEO, Synesa

Combining register data and CGE modelling –  pension, social and health care cost  projections in the FINAGE model
Juha Honkatukia, Research Manager, THL

“Automation on Biomedical Micro- and Nanodevices and their Applications”
Pasi Kallio, Professor, Vice Dean for Research
Faculty of Medicine and Health Technology, Tampere University

“Modelling population screening programmes – colorectal cancer screening in Finland”
Ellie Dillon, doctoral candidate, Aalto University School of Business

“Optimizing epidemic control decisions with simulators – case COVID-19”
Lauri Neuvonen, doctoral candidate, Aalto University School of Business

Timeline

14:00 Welcome

14:10 OR person of the year

14:15 ”System dynamics and design thinking as tools for making sense of complicated societal ecosystems”
Peter
Ylén, Principal  Scientist/Team Leader, VTT

15:00 ”Healthcare operations management – from data to knowledge”
Toni Ruohonen, CEO, Synesa

15:25 Combining register data and CGE modelling –  pension, social and health care cost  projections in the FINAGE model
Juha Honkatukia, Research Manager, THL

15:50 Break

16:05 “Automation on Biomedical Micro- and Nanodevices and their Applications”
Pasi Kallio, Professor, Vice Dean for Research
Faculty of Medicine and Health Technology, Tampere University

16:30 “Modelling population screening programmes – colorectal cancer screening in Finland”
Ellie Dillon, doctoral candidate, Aalto University School of Business

16:55 “Optimizing epidemic control decisions with simulators – case COVID-19”
Lauri Neuvonen, doctoral candidate, Aalto University School of Business

17:20 Panel Discussion

17:50 Closing


The seminar is organized as a webinar (details will be provided for participants prior to event). Participation is free.

Registration has ended. Queries and late registrations: sihteeri ät operaatiotutkimus.fi

This event is sponsored by:
Aalto Health Platform

SYKE etsii erikoistutkijaa (ekosysteemimallintajaa) monipuolisiin tutkimustehtäviin

“Tutkimuksesi koskee maa- ja vesiekosysteemien kasvihuonekaasutaseita ja ainevirtoja (esim. hiili, typpi) erilaisilla alueellisilla tasoilla (intensiivipaikat, valuma-alueet ja laajemmat alueet). Tehtäviisi kuuluu tiedon kerääminen, tilastollisten ja prosessipohjaisten mallien soveltaminen ja kehittäminen sekä skenaarioanalyysi, mukaan lukien maankäytön ja ilmastonmuutoksen vaikutusten arviointi. Toimit yhteistyössä SYKEn ja muiden koti- ja ulkomaisten tutkimuslaitosten poikkitieteellisten ryhmien kanssa. Näiden tiimien kanssa kirjoitat tieteellisiä julkaisuja ja asiantuntijaraportteja. Edistät myös ulkopuolisen rahoituksen saamista ja johdat omia tutkimushankkeita ryhmämme kansainvälisessä tutkimusympäristössä. Lisäksi osallistut mallinnuksen kehittämiseen SYKEssä. Lopullinen tehtävänkuva määräytyy valittavan henkilön osaamisen ja kokemuksen perusteella. ” lue lisää

UPM recruits Senior Specialist, Advanced Process Control, Asset Management

UPM is looking for a Senior Specialist, Advanced Process Control, Asset Management to work together with UPM Communication Papers to analyze and solve data-oriented business challenges with Advanced Process Controls (APC). They consider both junior candidates with good technical skills, or senior candidates with several years of relevant work experience. The position can be at any of UPM Communication Papers facilities in Finland or Germany. read more

EURO WISDOM Forum (Women In Society: Doing Operational Research and Management Science) & first webinar

Relaying the following message from EURO


Following the EURO 2018 Women in Science and EURO 2019 Women in OR sessions, interested members of the OR community are working with the EURO Executive Committee on an initiative to create the EURO WISDOM Forum (Women In Society: Doing Operational Research and Management Science).

This initiative restates the need for gender main-streaming and affirms that OR/MS can offer exciting opportunities for all women if they have equal access to resources and adequate training. Gender main-streaming aims to integrate a gender dimension into existing institutions and practices in order to achieve meaningful gender equality.

WISDOM is a forum to support, empower, and encourage the participation of all genders in OR/MS within EURO. In particular, it aims to promote inclusivity by the following actions:1. Advise/make recommendations/highlight best practices to the EURO executive on issues facing women in OR. Such guidelines can be disseminated to EURO member societies and Working Groups. Positive progress, outcomes and activities of member societies can serve as a template for other member societies;2. Promote championing, networking and mentoring, particularly of women at the early stages of their career in OR;3. Promote a conversation around how OR can be utilised to help create a diverse and inclusive future.

In January 2020, all EURO member societies were invited to nominate one or two members to participate in establishing the EURO WISDOM Forum. At the moment, the WISDOM Forum organising committee (OC) includes 21 members from 10 European OR societies including two EURO representatives, the EURO Vice Presidents Julia Bennell and Claudia Archetti. The chair of the WISDOM OC is Paula Carroll and the Secretary is Annunziata Esposito Amideo, both from the University College Dublin, Ireland.

The WISDOM Forum will operate through three subcommittees focusing on Research, Events and Public Relations (PR). The subcommittees chairs are: Research : Paula Carroll, Events :
Renata Mansini (University of Brescia ,Italy), and PR: Tatiana Tchemisova (University of Aveiro, Portugal).



Our first event is a webinar on “Bias/Fairness and Artificial Intelligence”. You can register for the webinar and subscribe to WISDOM Forum updates by emailing WISDOM@euro-online.org.
Webinar Format* Expert panellists explains data bias in their respective disciplines and application areas (~10/15 minutes each);* Roundtable discussion with audience participation (~15 minutes).
Panellists

Prof Alan Smeaton is Professor of Computing at Dublin City University, Ireland and a Founding Director of the Insight Centre for Data Analytics at DCU. He will speak on Data bias in automatic image and video captioning and its impact. For more information about Alan see https://www.computing.dcu.ie/~asmeaton/

Dr Claire Gormley is an Associate Professor in the School of Mathematics and Statistics in University College Dublin, Ireland and a Funded Investigator in the Insight Centre for Data Analytics and the VistaMilk research centre. Her research develops novel statistical methods for the analysis of complex data arising from substantive problems. The methods solve applied problems across a range of disciplines, including epigenetics, metabolomics, genomics, social science, sports science and political science. She will speak on Be fair to the models: the importance of assumptions in data analytics and modelling. For more information about Claire see https://people.ucd.ie/claire.gormley;

Dr Fintan Costello, is an Associate Professor in the School of Computer Science, University College Dublin, Ireland. His research interests cover a number of different areas in computer science, psychology and maths. His main interests are: biases in human reasoning and decision making; processes of rational inference in cognition; the origins of bias and rationality in human thought; computational models of probabilistic reasoning; computational models of decision making. He will speak on Bias and rationality in human reasoning (and why the same biases apply to AI). For more information about Fintan see https://people.ucd.ie/fintan.costello.

Dr Susan Leavy is an Assistant Professor in the School of Information and Communication Studies, University College Dublin, Ireland with research interests in artificial intelligence and digital policy, developing interdisciplinary frameworks for the governance and regulation of machine learning algorithms. She will speak on Gender bias and Artificial Intelligence. For more information about Susan see https://people.ucd.ie/susan.leavy

FacilitatorDr Paula Carroll, UCD, Chair WISDOM Forum

Analytics for a better world initiative & first webinar

Relaying the following communication from Dimitris Bertsimas (MIT) & Dick den Hertog (Tilburg University)


Dear all,

COVID-19 is one of the big challenges our society is facing nowadays, and there are many more. We believe that Analytics can be of much value to improve our world. It is encouraging to see that more and more (especially young) Analytics researchers are enthusiastic to use Analytics to make this world a better place. Analytics has, e.g., already contributed significantly to the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations. 

To make these contributions of Analytics for a Better World more visible, and to stimulate research in this area, we have started a new initiative: “Analytics for a Better World Webinars (ABW-W)”.   Every month we will organize one webinar (most probably via Zoom) on a high societal impact Analytics project. The focus of the webinars is not on theoretical innovation, but on impact. These webinars will be recorded, and the videos can be used in your Analytics courses.

The first speaker is Prof. Dimitris Bertsimas (MIT, Cambridge) who will present the ongoing  work of his group of 20+ PhD and Master students and colleagues at MIT (http://www.covidanalytics.io/team) on a variety of aspects of COVID-19 as detailed in  covidanalytics.io. The website contains many  downloadable models and data.

Specifically, he will discuss  

1) a new epidemiological model of the evolution of COVID-19, detailed in https://github.com/COVIDAnalytics/DELPHI

2)  a new machine learning model (based on optimal classification trees) for predicting mortality using data from an Italian hospital from Cremona Italy detailed in http://www.covidanalytics.io/risk_calculator. Depending on progress he will discuss how to prioritize patients to use ICUs to save more lives.

3) a new optimization model for allocating ventilators  among states in the US detailed in http://www.covidanalytics.io/ventilator_allocation

4) a data generation process from 130+ papers written in March 2020 regarding COVID-19 detailed in http://www.covidanalytics.io/dataset  and insights gleaned from it http://www.covidanalytics.io/interactive-graph

The emphasis of this work has been rapid prototyping and implementation. This talk also represents an invitation to researchers around the world to contribute with ideas and analyses of their own in a collaborative spirit with the objective to address this pandemic using analytics. 

The precise date and especially the time, depends on the geographical locations of the participants, and will be determined later.

If you are interested in participating in ABW-W, please write an e-mail to Dick den Hertog (D.denHertog@tilburguniversity.edu). 

Please, feel free to forward this e-mail to others who might be interested in this new initiative.

Kind regards,

Dimitris Bertsimas (MIT, Cambridge, US)
Dick den Hertog (Tilburg University, Tilburg, The Netherlands)

PhD position in Computer and Systems Sciences (University of Stockholm)

Please note, the deadline is April 15th, 2020!

Project description 
Sweden aims to transition to carbon neutrality by 2045 by relying on a 100 % renewable power system. Such a system will include more variable renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind power, and will function differently than the present one due to intermittency. In particular, flexible producers, e.g., hydropower plants, and the transmission network will become more important in balancing the system. This enhanced leverage for flexible producers increases their potential for market power and thwarts society’s objectives.

This project will develop game-theoretic models adapted to the Nordic power system both to identify such conflicts and to propose proactive mechanisms to mitigate their welfare losses. The ideal candidate should have a background in a quantitative subject, e.g., economics, operations research, or systems analysis, with programming and data-handling experience. Knowledge of electricity markets, energy policy, and environmental issues is also desirable.

Full announcement