Inventory or Stock? Observations from an OR Congress


Today, I attended National Operations Research and Industrial Engineering Congress in Turkey (YAEM 2012) in Istanbul. [L] Congress will continue for two more days.

Such congresses are beneficial in terms of networking, learning and sharing. I had a chance to meet with people from different backgrounds; academics, executives and even undergraduate students. For today I got two inferences;

1. People don’t know what’s happening even in their (research) subjects.

I think this is a threat for the future of the science. People don’t know who works in the similar topics. Indeed, they are not aware of what others are studying. We all spend time for unnecessary things in our lives, but we don’t have any curiosity about our colleagues. Weird. I think the reason is many academics don’t have adequate communication skills or they see searching, meeting and talking with people as a tiring stuff. Actually, we still don’t use the power of internet isn’t it? I think websites like Academia [L] should be introduced in such congress. It should be easy to share your development on your subject.

2. Excessive self-confidence damages science.

While talking about my thesis with an academic, I used the term “inventory management”. He suddenly changed his expression and said “We use the term ‘stock’ instead of ‘inventory’ in management.” Well, assume what he says is true. Then why is the session of my presentation called as ‘inventory management’? Moreover, is there any problem if I use a synonym word for it? Another one claims that, OR and IE is nothing compared to ‘strategic planning’. Obviously she is a strategic planner who doesn’t have system-wide look.

Even in a national OR congress, we need to explain what OR is and why it is important. I think increasing awareness among OR people is at least as important as organizing such congresses.

Sertalp Bilal Çay

PhD Candidate and Teaching Assistant in Industrial and Systems Engineering Department at Lehigh University. Researcher on Conic Optimization, Inventory Theory, Supply Chain Management and Simulation. Blog: