February 2019

In this episode we will learn how O.R. and analytics are helping the men and women of law enforcement and the corrections systems, from improving the health of prison inmates, to simplifying the assignment of inmates to the appropriate prison, to helping New York city police men and women better predict and respond to crime. Joining us for this episode are Tamas Terlaky, president of Optamo and professor at Lehigh University, Mohammad Shahabsafa, chief operating officer at Optamo and Anshul Sharma, chief information officer at Optamo, who share their INFORMS Wagner Prize award-winning research on improving inmate scheduling for the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections. In addition, we will hear from Alex Chohlas-Wood, former Director of Analytics for the NYPD and Evan Levine, Assistant Commissioner of Data Analytics at the Office of Crime Control Strategies with the NYPD, who have created a new system called Patternizr to aid the NYPD in identifying and predicting crime patterns. Finally, we are joined by Turgay Ayer of the Georgia Institute of Technology, who will discuss his research to identify a protocol for treatment that could significantly reduce the number of Hepatitis C infected prisoners.

Interviewed this episode:

Tamas Terlaky, Mohammad Shahabsafa, Anshul Sharma, Alex Chohlas-Wood, Evan Levine, Turgay Ayer

Lehigh University, Optamo, NYPD

Tamas Terlaky was the Chair of the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering, Lehigh University, 2008 – 2017.

Prior to his appointment at Lehigh U., Prof. Terlaky has taught at Eötvös U., Budapest, Hungary; Delft University of Technology, Delft, Netherlands; McMaster U., ON, Canada.  At McMaster he also served as the founding Director of the School of Computational Engineering and Science. Prof. Terlaky has published four books, edited over ten books and journal special issues and published over 180 research papers.  Topics include theoretical and algorithmic foundations of operations research (e.g., invention of the criss-cross method), design and analysis of large classes of interior point methods, computational optimization, worst case examples of the central path, nuclear reactor core reloading optimization, oil refinery and VLSI design optimization and robust radiation therapy treatment optimization. Further, his research interest includes high performance optimization methods, optimization modeling, optimization problems in engineering sciences, and Quantum Computing Optimization.

Prof. Terlaky is Founding Editor-in-Chief of the journal, Optimization and Engineering, and Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Optimization Theory and Applications.  He has served as associate editor of eight journals and has served as conference chair, conference organizer, and distinguished invited speaker at conferences all over the world.  He is general Chair of the 2015 INFORMS Annual Meeting, a former Chair of INFORMS’ Optimization Society, Chair of the ICCOPT Steering Committee of the Mathematical Optimization Society. He received: the MITACS Mentorship Award for his distinguished Ph.D. student supervisory record; the Egerváry Award of the Hungarian Operations Research Society; the Award of Merit of the Canadian Operations Research Society; the Wagner Prize of INFORMS; the Outstanding Innovation in Service Science Engineering Award of IISE.

Prof. Terlaky is Fellow of the Fields Institute, Fellow of INFORMS, Fellow of SIAM, and Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Engineering.

Mohammad Shahabsafa is the the CEO and co-founder of Optamo LLC. Optamo is a software development and consulting firm, specializing in the enhancement of business processes for government agencies. Optamo is the leading company in developing software that optimizes daily operations of correctional systems. Our solutions and services enable the correctional systems to analyze, streamline and optimize their procedures.

He received his Ph.D. in Industrial and Systems Engineering from Lehigh University in 2018 under supervision of Professor Tamas Terlaky, and his M.Sc. and B.Sc. in Industrial Engineering from Sharif University of Technology. He was honored to serve as the Graduate Student Speaker of the Lehigh University’s Commencement in 2019.

Anshul Sharma received his Master of Science from the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering, Lehigh University in 2018. He holds a Bachelors degree in Mechanical Engineering from India. His research mainly revolves around mixed integer linear optimization and its applications. Anshul wrote his Master’s thesis on optimizing inmate transportation within the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections. He is deeply committed to social and economic transformation and social inclusion.

Alex Chohlas-Wood is the executive director of the Stanford Computational Policy Lab. Alex led the development of data-driven tools in both the private and public sector, including as the Director of Analytics for the New York Police Department (NYPD). Alex holds an M.S. from New York University and a B.A. from Carleton College. His favorite color is gray.

Evan Levine is the Assistant Commissioner of Data Analytics at the Office of Crime Control Strategies with the NYPD.

Turgay Ayer is the George Family Foundation Early Career Professor in H. Milton Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineering and is the Director of Business Intelligence and Healthcare Analytics at the Center for Health and Humanitarian Systems at Georgia Institute of Technology. In addition, Dr. Ayer has a courtesy appointment in Emory Medical School.

His research focuses on healthcare analytics and socially responsible business analytics with a particular emphasis on practice-focused research. Ayer has authored/co-authored more than 50 research articles in top-tier management, engineering and medical journals, several of which are covered by popular media outlets, including the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, US News, and NPR.

Dr. Ayer has received over $2.5 million grant funding and several awards for his work, including an NSF CAREER Award (2015), first place in the MSOM Practice-Based Research Competition (2017), INFORMS Franz Edelman Laureate Award (2017), and MSOM Responsible Research Award in Operations Management (2019).

Ayer serves as associate editor for Management ScienceOperations Research, and MSOM, and is a past president of the INFORMS Health Application Society. He received a B.S. in industrial engineering from Sabanci University in Istanbul, Turkey, and his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in industrial and Systems Engineering from the University of Wisconsin–Madison.