Fall 2007 UMASS Amherst
Operations Research / Management Science Seminar Series

Date: Friday, October 19, 2007

Time: 11:00 AM
Location: Isenberg School of Management, Room 112

Speaker: Professor Elaine Chew

Epstein Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering
Hsieh Department of Electrical Engineering
University of Southern California Viterbi School of Engineering
Los Angeles, CA
2007-2008 Science Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study,
Harvard University, Cambridge, MA

Biography: Professor Elaine Chew is an Associate Professor of Industrial and Systems Engineering and of Electrical Engineering at the University of Southern California (USC) Viterbi School of Engineering. She earned PhD and SM degrees in Operations Research from MIT and a BAS in Mathematical and Computational Sciences and Music Performance from Stanford University. 

Her research interests center on the computational modeling of music and its performance. She founded and heads the Music Computation and Cognition (MuCoaCo) Laboratory at USC, where she conducts and directs research on music and computing. She received the NSF Career/PECASE Awards for her research and education activities at the intersection of music and engineering. Professor Chew is on the founding editorial boards of the Journal of Mathematics and Musicthe Journal of Music and Meaning, and ACM Computers in Entertainment. She is the first honoree of the Viterbi Early Career Chair.

Professor Chew also holds diplomas and degrees in piano performance from the Trinity College, London and Stanford University. In 1998, she received MIT's prestigious Laya and Jerome Wiesner Award for her contribution to the arts. She was an Affiliated Artist of MIT's Music and Theatre Arts from 1998-2000.  Her artistic endeavors include the founding of the MIT-based Aurelius Ensemble (1998-2000) and field research on contemporary Chinese piano music in China. A proponent of contemporary and eclectic repertoire, she continues to perform  as a chamber musician and soloist. At USC, she has initiated and participated in the multimedia concerts The Mathematics in Music, Flying Sonics, and Dark Blue Sky Dream.

Professor Chew is on sabbatical in 2007-2008, during which she and her collaborator/spouse Alexandre François are Fellows of Harvard's Radcliffe Institute of Advanced Study, and will be designing analysis and interactive tools for real-time processing and visualization of contemporary music.

TITLE: Music and Operations Research – The Perfect Match
Abstract: The widespread access to digitally encoded music, from desktop browsers to handheld devices, has given rise to the need for mathematical and computational techniques for generating, manipulating, processing, storing and retrieving digital music. The mathematical nature of music makes it particularly amenable to efficient and effective representation in numerical, and hence digital, form, and to computational modeling to assist in its composing, rendering (as in an expressive performance), and analysis.

Operations research (OR) is a field that prides itself in the mathematical modeling of complex problems to find optimal or feasible solutions. It should come as no surprise that OR has much to offer in terms of solving problems in music composition, analysis, and performance.  The problems tackled by operations researchers have ranged from airline yield management and the scheduling of UPS delivery trucks, to mate choice, and ant colony and chicken dominance behavior, so why not music?

In this talk, I will give examples of how musical problems can be framed and solved mathematically and computationally, using techniques familiar to the OR community. Music composition and improvisation can often be thought of as the exploration of a solution space bounded by constraints imposed by the composer or improviser. A music score contains numerous ambiguities the resolution for which can be influenced by a performer, just as the grouping of words in a sentence by a speaker can affect the meaning of a sentence. Thus, performance can be viewed as a set of decisions constrained by the notes in the score.

Music representation and analysis underlie many of the techniques for composition and performance. Music possesses both time structure (meter and rhythm) and pitch structure (tonality or atonality); pitch structures can be further classified into vertical structures (for example, chords) and horizontal structures (for example, melody and voice). Mathematics provides a means to represent and relate these structures one to another, and computational techniques allow us to automatically determine and analyze these structures.

Specific examples will include ESP, the expression synthesis project, MIMI, a multimodal musical improvisation interface, and MuSA.RT, an interactive music analysis and visualization system; ESP is joint work with Jie Liu and Alexandre François, MIMI and MuSA.RT are joint work with Alexandre François.
This series is organized by the UMASS Amherst INFORMS Student Chapter. Support for this series is provided by the Isenberg School of Management, the Department of Finance and Operations Management, INFORMS, and the John F. Smith Memorial Fund.

For questions, please contact the INFORMS Student Chapter Speaker Series Coordinator, Ms. Trisha Woolley, twoolley@som.umass.edu
or the Faculty Advisor, Professor Anna Nagurney.