Do Mathematicians do Economics Better?

In my optimization class we were talking about maximin problems.  A maximin problem is a problem that maximizes the lowest outcome (maximize f when f(x1,x2,…xn) = min{x1,x2,…xn}.  Our professor made the claim that “… economics is focused on maximin problems or should be focused on”. I felt like this statement grossly understated my major and the range of economics.  Even the optimization problems we face in economics have a wide variety such as profit optimization, game theoretical optimization, utility optimization, etc. not to mention the other sectors of economics that don’t include optimization.  However, he does deserve some credit. Maximin Continue reading Do Mathematicians do Economics Better?

Optimizing the UPS School Year

This year, UPS is ending this semester’s classes and starting next semester’s classes a week later than usual. There were mixed reviews to this shift. In regards to starting classes later in the fall, there are less strong opinions and there is more general confusion. Changing the end date has caused more controversy, though. Supporters are glad that graduation is no longer on Mother’s Day, which was a common complaint from students. That said, when graduation was on Mother’s Day, those who weren’t planning on staying for graduation could be home in time to celebrate. Now, Mother’s Day is the Continue reading Optimizing the UPS School Year

Why Tacoma shuts down when it snows: A network optimization problem

(Picture from UPS Facebook Page) This storm seems to spark a lot of emotion. While watching Tacoma residents and California transplants loot Safeway for canned beans and Rainier, Minnesotans and Chicagoans laugh and jeer about how they walked to school in five feet of snow every winter without a jacket. Okay, maybe not quite so extreme, but how would I know – I haven’t left North Tacoma in five days because I, too, am a California transplant. This past week has made glaringly clear the difference in protocols and design between cities that brace for snow vigilantly every winter, and Continue reading Why Tacoma shuts down when it snows: A network optimization problem