Intel wins coveted INFORMS Society Wagner Prize with product design innovations

December 19, 2011

The Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS®) today announced the award of the Daniel H. Wagner Prize by CPMS, the association's Practice Section, to a team from Intel. The winners used analytics and operations research to optimize the design and scheduling of the major chip maker's vast product line so as to have the right products at the right time for customers while efficiently managing resources and costs.

"Product Line Design and Scheduling at Intel" is by Evan Rash and Karl Kempf of Intel's Decision Engineering Group.

"This year's competition was especially strong and Intel is to be heartily congratulated for their win," said Allen Butler, the competition's committee chair. "Their use of multiple analytic techniques (genetic algorithms, set-covering formulation) in a hierarchical decomposition was both innovative and effective. The judges felt their paper was imminently readable and their presentation was technically informative, yet comprehensible to a general audience."

Intel faces a challenge of planning product features. Different markets call for different combinations of features, some features shared with other markets and some unique. An additional challenge is determining which of the possible products to produce because often more than one product will satisfy the needs of a particular market. A further challenge comes from deciding when to begin selling each new product. Any proposed plan will have its own costs and uses of resources, covering design, engineering, and production.

The team employed advanced analytical methods to find among the astronomically large number of feasible plans that plan which most profitably meets customer requirements well. The profit-maximizing plan spells out what products to produce, what features each product should contain, and when each product should be introduced in each market.

The beneficial results for Intel included important improvements in a key business process: replacing a mixture of spreadsheets and databases with a single system tied to a unified database; a holistic view across divisions and products in place of silos; asking more what-if questions that drive business innovation; collaborative decision-making among finance, planning, and engineering departments; overall profit optimization; and reusing product features in additional products.

The Daniel H. Wagner Prize competition is held each fall at the INFORMS Annual Meeting. The prize is presented for superior analytical work that has produced real benefits in practical application.

The late Dr. Wagner, for whom the prize is named, strove for strong mathematics supported by excellent writing, applied to practical problems. This prize recognizes those principles: The judges make their selection based on quality and originality of mathematical models and analytic content, clarity of written and oral exposition, and verifiable success in implementation.

This year's other finalists are:
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Watch video of the Wagner Prize-winning Intel presentation, as well as all the 2011 Wagner Prize finalists, at http://livewebcast.net/INFORMS_AM_Wagner_Prize_2011.

The Wagner Prize competition was held last month at the INFORMS annual meeting in Charlotte, North Carolina. The papers of all finalists will appear next year in a special issue of the INFORMS journal Interfaces.

About INFORMS

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. INFORMS serves the scientific and professional needs of operations research analysts, experts in analytics, consultants, scientists, students, educators, and managers, as well as their institutions, by publishing a variety of journals that describe the latest research in operations research. INFORMS Online (IOL) is at www.informs.org. Further information about operations research can be found at www.scienceofbetter.org.

Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences

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