SEATTLE - Today Lucent Technologies received the INFORMS Prize, the highest honor given for an organization’s body of work in operations research, at the national meeting of the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS). The award recognizes Lucent’s pervasive and successful use of operations research throughout its business, at both the operational and the strategic levels of the corporate enterprise.
"Every day Lucent demonstrates its leadership in applying operations research to telecommunications," said Karla Hoffman, president of INFORMS and chair of the Systems Engineering and Operations Research Department at George Mason University. "Because of its commitment to using the best technologies available," Hoffman said, "I believe that Lucent will continue to thrive in this highly competitive industry."
"‘Math makes good’ is what this award tells the world," said Ernie Rodriguez, Bell Labs vice president of Advanced Technologies, whose organization led the effort to document and demonstrate operations research at Lucent. "The application of the fundamental math, analytic techniques, and scientific management tools we know as operations research not only helps us better manage our operations, but also helps us deliver better products to the marketplace."
Deeply ingrained in the company’s R&D, management, and manufacturing practices, operations research is now directly coupled to Lucent’s strategic focus on the convergence of data and voice networking, the transformation of the network core to packet and optical technologies, and the emergence of advanced wireless and broadband access options.
"Operations research is often so far behind the scenes of an enterprise as to be invisible," said Rodriguez. "Yet the results are reflected in highly visible ways -- in large-scale operations and in financial results that capture the world’s attention. What Lucent and its customers are engaged in is nothing less than creating the future of communications, and operations research is playing a critical role."
One of the ways Lucent knows networks is through the mathematics of queueing theory, performance modeling and analysis, and simulation of system and network behavior under unpredictable mixes of data, voice, and video traffic. To give just a few examples, Bell Labs scientists and engineers have employed such mathematical insights and techniques to create Internet Protocol (IP) and asynchronous transfer mode (ATM) systems that can make future data networks as reliable as today’s telecom networks; to boost the capacity of wireless systems through smarter power control; to improve restoration algorithms for optical networks; and to analyze the performance impact of Intelligent Network services and communications middleware.
Software tools put a wide range of Bell Labs expertise, from mathematical programming to network engineering to software design, directly at the service of Lucent’s customers. One such tool aids in building IP-based virtual private networks; another optimizes the rapid design of indoor wireless systems. Other Bell Labs design algorithms and software -- those used in planning some of the world’s largest, most complex, and most reliable networks -- have saved customers tens of millions of dollars in network development and operating costs.
Operations research enables Lucent to design better products and to build them better. Robust design methods, based on advanced statistical techniques, have improved product reliability and reduced manufacturing costs. Bell Labs is a recognized leader in formal verification of designs -- such as complete systems on silicon chips or large, complex software programs -- as well as in tools for integrated circuit layout and simulation.
Another recent application of operations research helped several of Lucent’s manufacturing facilities improve service to customers while decreasing inventory by millions of dollars. Lucent’s Merrimack Valley, Atlanta, and Oklahoma City Works implemented the same statistical inventory-management system for very different products -- network multiplexers, fiber-optics apparatus, and switching and access products, respectively -- yet achieved similar results. All three use the Inventory Requirements Planning System to analyze demand and supply variations over the products’ lead time, to measure forecast error and supply performance, and to determine the optimal inventory "buffer" levels needed to meet objectives for customer service.
INFORMS, based in Linthinicum, Maryland, is an international scientific society with 12,000 members, including Nobel Prize laureates, dedicated to applying scientific methods to help improve decision making, management, and operations. Members of INFORMS work primarily in business, government, and academia. They are represented in fields as diverse as airlines, health care, law enforcement, the military, the stock market, and telecommunications. See http://www.informs.org.
Lucent Technologies (LU), headquartered at Murray Hill, N.J., designs, builds, and delivers a wide range of public and private networks, communications systems and software, data networking systems, business telephone systems, and microelectronics components. Bell Labs is the research and development arm of the company. For more information on Lucent, visit the company’s Web site at http://www.lucent.com.
Materials provided by Bell Labs - Lucent Technologies. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.
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