Spring 2006 UMASS Amherst
Operations Research / Management Science Seminar Series

Date: Friday, February 10, 2006

Time: 11:00 AM
Location: Isenberg School of Management, Room 112
Co-sponsored by the National Center for Digital Government
Speaker: Professor David Lazer

Program on Networked Governance
Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business and Government

Kennedy School of Government
Harvard University
Cambridge, MA

Biography: David M. J. Lazer, Associate Professor of Public Policy, teaches courses on regulation and public management. Lazer has an overarching interest in the process by which connections emerge among actors and the consequences that the resultant network has for individuals and the system. He most recently completed a book on the use of DNA in the criminal justice system: DNA and the Criminal Justice System: The Technology of Justice. With the support of the NSF, he is also in the process of launching a Web-based forum on the use of DNA in the criminal justice system (www.dnapolicy.net). He has also coauthored a series of papers on the diffusion of information among interest groups and between interest groups and the government. He holds a PhD in political science from the University of Michigan.

TITLE: The Parable of the Hare and the Tortoise:
Small Worlds, Diversity, and System Performance

Abstract: Whether as team members brainstorming, or cultures experimenting with new technologies, problem solvers communicate and share ideas. This paper examines how the structure of these communication networks can affect   system-level performance. We present an agent-based model of information  sharing, where the less successful emulate the more successful. Results suggest that where agents are dealing with a complex problem, the more efficient the network at disseminating information, and the higher the velocity of information over that network, the better the short run and lower the long run performance of the system. The dynamic underlying this result is that an inefficient network is better at exploration than an efficient network, supporting a more thorough search for solutions in the long run. This suggests that the efficient network is the hare - the fast starter - and the poorly connected network is the tortoise - slow at the start of the race, but ultimately triumphant.

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. The Chapter wishes to thank Professor Anna Nagurney, its Faculty Advisor, for her help and  support of this series.

For questions, please contact the INFORMS Student Chapter Representative, Ms. Tina Wakolbinger, wakolbinger@som.umass.edu