Journal operations research introduces new 'OR forum,' spotlight on leading new research

April 23, 2007

Hanover, MD, April 23, 2007 -- The Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS®) today announced that its flagship journal Operations Research is introducing a new bi-monthly feature. "OR Forum" is a spotlight on important research selected from the field of operations research and related fields, such as revenue management, marketing science, health care, homeland security, and computational economics. It will appear in every issue of the bi-monthly journal.

A special feature of OR Forum will be its online Discussion Forum. An open access version of the featured Forum study and the Forum discussion board can be found by visiting the journal's homepage

"Every issue, OR Forum will emphasize thoughtful and substantive position papers that suggest new research directions of interest not only to operations researchers but to all those who follow important scientific trends. The online Discussion Forum provides a dynamic opportunity for readers to continue the discussion," says David Simchi-Levi, Editor-in-Chief of the journal.

David Simchi Levi is Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Engineering Systems, and Co-Director, Leaders For Manufacturing and System Design and Management Programs, at MIT.

The debut article in the current issue of OR Forum examines a special class of auctions known as combinatorial auctions. "Thirteen Reasons Why the Vickrey-Clarke-Groves Process is Not Practical" is by Michael H. Rothkopf, is a Rutgers professor who has agreed to become the Smeal Chaired Professor of Supply Chain and Information Systems at Pennsylvania State University's Smeal College of Business.

A combinatorial auction is an auction in which bids are placed on combinations or packages of items. For example, a trucking company may be able to save costs and offer a better rate if it wins contracts on routes that form a loop. Combinatorial auctions are becoming important in commerce, Prof. Rothkopf writes, and it is tempting to develop elegant theory while ignoring some of the practical problems that arise.

In Vickrey sealed bidding, the high bid wins but the payment is the amount of the best losing bid. Vickrey-Clarke-Groves (VCG) processes generalize Vickrey auctions to combinatorial auctions. They are designed so that in theory it is in the interest of bidders to truthfully bid their values for each combination of items.

In the study, Prof. Rothkopf argues that VCG theory does not translate well into practice. The difficulties inherent in VCG processes, he shows, include problems associated with the disclosure of information, susceptibility to cheating, and the effect of sequences of auctions. To start the discussion, the editors of Operations Research invited commentary from a number of economists and auction researchers. These comments expand on and, in some cases, challenge the arguments in the paper.
Papers addressing pressing issues in operations research are solicited for the Forum. Interested authors should contact Area Editor Michael Trick ( for guidelines and suggestions.


INFORMS journals are strongly cited in Journal Citation Reports, an industry source. In the JCR subject category "operations research and management science," Operations Research ranked in the top 10 along with two other INFORMS journals.

The special MBA issue published by Business Week includes Operations Research and two other INFORMS journals in its list of 20 top academic journals that are used to evaluate business school programs. Financial Times includes Operations Research and four other INFORMS journals in its list of academic journals used to evaluate MBA programs.

The Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS®) is an international scientific society with 10,000 members, including Nobel Prize laureates, dedicated to applying scientific methods to help improve decision-making, management, and operations. Members of INFORMS work in business, government, and academia. They are represented in fields as diverse as airlines, health care, law enforcement, the military, financial engineering, and telecommunications. The INFORMS website is More information about operations research is at

Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences

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