Category Archives: Personal Updates

Successfully Passed Proposal Defense

A week ago, I passed my dissertation proposal defense. I proposed two essays in energy operations management for my dissertation. I will have to defend the thesis writeup next spring. Thanks to my committee: Owen Wu, Gil Souza, Kyle Cattani, and Kurt Bretthauer, and to the external members of my examination committee: John Maxwell and Shibo Li.

Finalist for POMS College of Sustainable Operations Best Student Paper

Kyle Cattani, one of my co-authors, was left off the original announcement. I have added him below.

Announcement sent out via Tim Kraft and Yannis Bellos:

On behalf of the awards committee, we are pleased to congratulate the finalist for the 2017 POMS College of Sustainable Operations Best Student Paper Competition. The finalist in alphabetical order are:

Karthik Balasubramanian (Harvard Business School)
Inventory Models for Mobile Money Agents in the Developing World
Co-author: David Drake

Eric Webb (Indiana University)
Mind the Gap: Coordinating Energy Efficiency and Demand Response
Coauthor: Owen Wu, Kyle Cattani

Can Zhang (Georgia Tech)
Truth-inducing Mechanisms for Medical Surplus Product Allocation
Coauthors: Atalay Atasu, Turgay Ayer, Beril Toktay

The winning paper will be announced during the College of Sustainable Operations business meeting on Saturday, May 6th at this year’s POMS Annual Conference in Seattle. Thank you to all those who submitted. We had a record number of entries this year with 24 submissions, all of which were of high quality.

Research Page Updated

I’ve deleted my old “Projects” page and created a “Research” page which contains my current and past research projects. The page is split into topics of research:
-Energy, my primary research area
-Behavioral, my secondary research area
-Sports, my fun research area
-Other, including any one-off projects
-Old Projects, from undergraduate and Master’s years or from internships

Talks I Attended at INFORMS 2016

Documented mostly for my future reference.

Sunday 8am, track SA36:
-An Empirical Investigation of Network Effects in Automobile Sales by Tianjun Feng, Fuqiuang Zhang, and Peiwen Yu
-The Operational Value of Social Media Information by Dennis Zhang, Antonio Moreno-Garcia, Ruomeng Cui, and Santiago Gallino
-When you work with a super man, will you also fly? An empirical study of the impact of coworkers on performance by Serguei Netessine and Fangyun Tang
-CEO overconfidence and inventory management by Fuqiang Zhang, Tianjun Feng, and Qing Zhang

Sunday Plenary: Cognitive Computing: From Breakthroughs in the lab to applications in the field by Guru Banavar of IBM Research

Sunday 11am, track SB09:
-Biomass Supply contract pricing and environmental policy analysis: an agent-based modeling approach by Shiyang Huang and Guiping Hu
-On the effectiveness of tax incentives to support biomass co-firing by Hadi Karimi and Sandra Eksioglu
-A game-theoretic model of biomass co-firing policies by Sandra Eksioglu and Armin Khademi
-Evaluation of a wind farm project by Metin Cakanyildirim

Sunday 1:30pm, track SC28:
-Dynamic optimization of multichannel advertising campaigns in an online advertising supply chain by Changseung Yoo, Anitesh Barua, and Genaro Gutierrez
-Variability in labor schedules: Effects on store performance and employee turnover by Hyun Seok Lee, Saravanan Kesavan, and Camelia Kuhnen

Sunday 1:30pm, track SC30
-Managerial Attention, Reminders, and the Energy Efficiency Gap by Enno Siemsen and Suvrat Dhanokar
-Does learning from inspections affect environmental performance? Evidence from unconventional oil and gas wells by Suresh Muthulingam and Vidya Mani

Sunday 4:30pm, track SD29:
-Valuing distributed energy resources in electricity system planning: locational benefits and economies of unit scale by Jesse Jenkins
-Combined heat and power production – valuing flexible operation in an uncertain environment by Chritoph Weber

Sunday 4:30pm, track SD28
-Robust Supply function equilibrium in renewable energy markets by Yuanzhang Xiao, Chaithanya Bandi, and Ermin Wei
-An analysis of demand response programs in the wholesale electricity market by Asligul Serasu Duran, Baris Ata, and Ozge Islegen

Monday 8am, track MA35:
-The use of technology to improve engagement through accountability by Gad Allon
-Innovations in teaching operations management at UCLA by Guillaume Roels
-Architecting new business models (in the classroom) by Karan Girotra
-Ideo: Human-centered service design – multimedia-enhanced teaching and learning by Ryan Buell

Monday Plenary: Public health preparedness: Answering (largely unanswerable) questions iwth operations research by Margaret Brandeau

Monday 1:30pm, track MC29:
-Operational response to climate change: Do profitable carbon abatement opportunities decrease over time? by Christian Blanco, Felipe Caro, and Charles Corbett
-Closing a supplier’s energy efficiency gap: The role of assessment assistance and procurement commitment by Quang Dang Nguyen, Karen Donohue, and Mili Mehrotra
-Mind the Gap: Coordinating Energy Efficiency and Demand Response by Eric Webb, Owen Wu, and Kyle Cattani

Tuesday 8am, track TA29:
-Energy efficiency contracting in supply chains under asymmetric bargaining power by Ali Shantia, Sam Aflaki, and Andrea Masini
-An analysis of time-based pricing in electricity supply chains by Asligul Serasu Duran, Baris Ata, and Ozge Islegen
-Investments in renewable and conventional energy: The role of operational flexibility by Kevin Shang, Gurhan Kok, and Safak Yucel
-Explaining the variation in progress in the US nuclear industry by Christian Blanco, Felipe Caro, and Charles Corbett

Tuesday 11am, track TB29:
-Green sourcing – the role of premium sharing and consulting services by Xi Chen
-Inducing prompt disclosure in the presence of evasive effort by Shouqiang Wang, Peng Sun, and Francis De Vericourt
-The adoption of smart home appliance form energy shifting by Wenbin Wang and Yannan Jin
-Incentives for joint product and process improvement under collective extended producer responsibility by Luyi Gui

Tuesday 1:30pm, track TC34:
-Do mandatory overtime laws improve quality? Staffing decisions and operational flexibility of nursing homes by Lauren Lu and Susan Lu
-Predicting Nurse Turnover And Its Impact on Staffing Decisions by Eric Webb and Kurt Bretthauer
-Hospital readmissions reduction program: An economic and operational analysis by Dennis Zhang

Tuesday Keynote: Optimizing the future – supply chain at Amazon by Jason Murray

Tuesday 4:30pm, track TD37:
-The impact of carbon pricing on improving supply chain energy efficiency by Quang Dang Nguyen, Karen Donohue, and Mili Mehrotra
-Quantifying the impact of intermittent renewable generation on German electricity market by Shadi Goodarzi, Derek Bunn, and Syed Basher
-Designing hydro supply chains for water, food, energy, and flood nexus by Kwon Gi Mun, Raza Ali Rafique, and Yao Zhao
-Reversing the death spiral: A new business model for utility firms under social network effects by Safak Yucel, Gurhan Kok, and Kevin Shang

Wednesday Keynote: The goals of analysis are understanding, decisions, and influencing policy by Gerald Brown

Wednesday 11am, track WB31:
-Ethics, Bounded Rationality, and IP sharing in knowledge-based outsourcing by Manu Goyal and Krishnan Anand
-Accurate estimation of retail store traffic from people counters to achieve better conversion by Anup Hanamant
-Mitigating digital discrimination with reviews in the sharing economy: Field evidence from Airbnb by Dennis Zhang, Jun Li, and Ruomeng Cui
-Impact of operational risks in financial organizations by Yuqian Xu, Fangyun Tan, and Sergeuei Netessine

Wednesday 12:45pm, track WC31:
-Rational abandonment from observable priority queues by Philipp Afeche and Vahid Sarhangian
-Design of discretionary service lines: An operational driver of variety by Laurens Debo and Cuihong Li
-Linking Customer Behavior and Delay Announcements: Are Customers Really Rational? by Eric Webb, Qiuping Yu, and Kurt Bretthauer

Wednesday 2:45pm, track WD27:
-The effect of discrete workshifts on non-terminating queues by Robert Batt, Diwas KC, Bradley Staats, and Brian Patterson
-A near-term mortality indicator for terminal cancer patients using high frequency medical data by Donald Lee and Edieal Pinker
-A machine learning approach for personalized health care outcome analysis by Guihua Wang, Jun Li, and Wallace Hopp
-Are patients patient? The effect of universal healthcare on emergency department visits by Diwas KC

Wednesday 4:30pm, track WE32:
-An analysis of world baseball softball confederation premier 12 schedule by Seong Kim and JC Kim
-The role of offensive system in the NBA draft by Ryan Chen, Eli Shayer, Travis Chen, and Nicholas Canova
-Using Past Scores and Regularization to Create a Winning NFL Betting Model by Eric Webb and Wayne Winston
-An optimal pacing strategy for ultramarathons by Kristoper Pruitt and Justin Hill

INFORMS 2016 Presentations

Come show me some love in Nashville. Here are my presentations:

1. Session MC29 – Issues in Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
November 14, 2016, 1:30 – 3:00 PM, 202A-MCC
3rd Presentation (of 3): Mind The Gap: Coordinating Energy Efficiency And Demand Response
Authors: Eric Webb, Owen Wu, Kyle D. Cattani, Kelley School of Business, Indiana University
Abstract: Traditionally, energy demand-side management techniques, such as energy efficiency (EE) and demand response (DR), are evaluated in isolation. We examine the interactions between long-term EE upgrades and daily DR participation at an industrial firm. We find that EE and DR act as substitutes in terms of reduction of peak electricity demand, and the long-studied energy efficiency gap between firm-optimal and societal-optimal levels of EE is smaller when DR is considered. We suggest three approaches to reducing the energy efficiency gap, including an original suggestion that relies upon the interactions between EE and DR.

2. Session TC34 – Public Policy and Healthcare Operations
November 15, 2016, 1:30 – 3:00 PM, 204-MCC
2nd Presentation (of 3): Predicting Nurse Turnover And Its Impact On Staffing Decisions
Authors: Eric Webb, Kurt Bretthauer, Kelley School of Business, Indiana University
Abstract: Nurse turnover remains a significant problem in skilled nursing facilities across the United States. High turnover leads to two important questions: (1) Hiring decisions – What applicant attributes should be valued when hiring nurses, in order to hire nurses that are effective at their jobs and likely to stay for a long duration? (2) Staffing decisions – How should nurse workload be managed in order to prevent burnout and decrease turnover? Based on a large dataset from skilled nursing facilities in the United States, we first use a survival model to predict nurse turnover. For this talk we then focus on staffing and incorporate these empirical results into analytical models for nurse staffing decisions.

3. Session WC31 – Consumer Behavior in Services
November 16, 2016, 12:45 – 2:15 PM, 202C-MCC
4th Presentation (of 4): Linking Customer Behavior And Delay Announcements: Are Customers Really Rational?
Authors: Eric Webb, Qiuping Yu, Kurt M. Bretthauer, Kelley School of Business, Indiana University
Abstract: We empirically explore customer abandonment behavior in the presence of delay information using data from a call center. Previous work has assumed that customers are at least partially rational in responding to announcements. In contrast, we relax all rationality assumptions. Our findings indicate that customers exhibit loss aversion behavior. In addition, customers may update their announcement-induced reference point as they hear subsequent announcements. Our results also indicate that customers may fall for the sunk cost fallacy while waiting in the queue. We show the impact of these effects on staffing decisions using a classic staffing model.

4. Session WE32 – Sports and Entertainment
November 16, 2016, 4:30 – 6:00 PM, 203A-MCC
3rd Presentation (of 4): Using Past Scores And Regularization To Create A Winning NFL Betting Model
Authors: Eric Webb, Kelley School of Business, Indiana University, and Wayne L. Winston, Bauer College of Business, University of Houston
Abstract: Is the National Football League betting market efficient? We have devised a profitable betting model that would win 52.7% of the 7,705 bets against the spread it would have made over 34 seasons. Scores from previous weeks are used to estimate the point value of each team’s offense and defense. These values predict next week’s scores, and a bet is placed against the advertised spread. The sum of squares of offensive/defensive point values are constrained to be less than a regularization constant.

INFORMS 2016 Presentations

Nov. 14, 2016, 1:30 – 3:00 PM
Mind The Gap: Coordinating Energy Efficiency And Demand Response
Eric Webb, Owen Wu, Kyle D. Cattani, Kelley School of Business, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN

Nov. 15, 2016, 1:30 – 3:00 PM
Predicting Nurse Turnover And Its Impact On Staffing Decisions
Eric Webb, Kurt Bretthauer, Kelley School of Business, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN

Nov. 16, 2016, 12:45 – 2:15 PM
Linking Customer Behavior And Delay Announcements: Are Customers Really Rational?
Eric Webb, Qiuping Yu, Kurt M. Bretthauer, Kelley School of Business, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN

Nov. 16, 2016, 4:30 – 6:00 PM
Using Past Scores And Regularization To Create A Winning Nfl Betting Model
Eric Webb1, Wayne L. Winston2, 1Kelley School of Business, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN, 2Bauer College of Business, University of Houston, Houston, TX

Amusement Park Rankings


Here is a summary of the roller coaster parks we visited on our crazy road trip:

We visited Michigan’s Adventure, in Muskegon, MI, on Sunday, July 17. We rode 6 roller coasters and 0 other rides. In descending order, my coaster ratings were 6, 5, 4, 2, 2, and 1 out of 10.

We visited Canada’s Wonderland, in Vaughan, ON, on Monday, July 18. We rode 11 roller coasters and 2 other rides. In descending order, my coaster ratings were 9, 8, 6, 5, 4, 4, 4, 4, 3, 2, and 2. My ratings for other rides were 7 and 6.

We visited Hersheypark, in Hershey, PA, on Tuesday, July 19. We rode 9 roller coasters and 2 other rides. In descending order, my coaster ratings were 9.5, 8, 8, 8, 7, 7, 6, 5, and 2. My ratings for other rides were 5 and 3.

We visited Dorney Park, in Allentown, PA, on Wednesday, July 20. We rode 6 roller coasters and 4 other rides. In descending order, my coaster ratings were 7, 6, 6, 6, 5, and 3. My ratings for other rides were 6, 3, 3, and 2.

We visited Cedar Point, in Sandusky, OH, on Monday, July 25. We rode 12 roller coasters and 3 other rides. In descending order, my coaster ratings were 10, 10, 9, 8, 7.5, 7, 7, 5, 5, 5, 4, and 3. My ratings for other rides were 4, 4, and 2.

44 coasters in 9 days. Whew.

It is safe to say that Cedar Point reigns supreme among the other amusement parks. Hersheypark was a pleasant surprise though. Here are the final park rankings:
1. Cedar Point, with 7 coasters scoring 7 or higher out of 10.
2. Hersheypark, with 6 coasters scoring 7 or higher.
3. Canada’s Wonderland, with 2 coasters scoring 7 or higher.
4. Dorney Park, with 1 coaster scoring 7 or higher.
5. Michigan’s Adventure, with 0 coasters scoring 7 or higher.

Including other parks I have been to in the last 10 years, I think the rankings would be something like this (weighting roller coasters most heavily):
1. Cedar Point
2. Six Flags Magic Mountain
3. Hersheypark
4. Kings Island
5. Kings Dominion
6. Canada’s Wonderland
7A. Dollywood
7B. Holiday World
9. Dorney Park
10. Michigan’s Adventure


Cedar Point Rides


The fifth coaster park stop on our whirlwind amusement park tour was Cedar Point, in Sandusky, Ohio, on Monday, July 25, 2016. We were joined at this park by our friends Telesilla and Serge. We arrived at the park around 11:15am. Cedar Point has 71 total rides and 17 roller coasters (2nd most in the world behind Six Flags Magic Mountain). Park map (click to expand):


Cedar Point has an unfortunate policy about backpacks being stored on ride platforms, so we had to store our backpack (with phones/cameras) for extended periods. As such, we don’t have our own pictures of all the rides. It should be obvious which ones below are ours and which aren’t.


1. Magnum XL200
Steel coaster with a big first hill. 205 ft, 72 mph, tallest and fastest in world when it opened in 1989. We sat in the back car and felt a lot of “whip” effect as the back car tries to keep up with the train on the ride. Pretty smooth.
Eric: 7/10
Maria: 8/10
Telesilla: 7/10
Serge: 7/10


2. Maverick
Steel looping coaster. Launch at start of ride and in the middle. 105 ft, 70 mph. Very smooth and twisting.
Eric: 9/10
Maria: 9/10
Telesilla: 8/10
Serge: 8/10

3. Antique Cars
Antique car ride as a break after such a fast start. Toward the end of the ride, there was a tunnel over water and birds were going crazy flying under the tunnel back and forth for some reason.
Eric: 2/10
Maria: 5/10
Telesilla: 10/10
Serge: 5/10

cedar creek mine ride

4. Cedar Creek Mine Ride
Steel track on a wooden frame. Smooth. 2 lift hills. 48 ft, 42 mph. Pretty cool ride for how old it is (1969).
Eric: 3/10
Maria: 5/10
Telesilla: 5/10
Serge: 6/10


5. Skyhawk
High swinging ride. 125 ft, 65 mph. Ride should be just a bit longer.
Eric: 4/10
Serge: 4/10


6. Millennium Force
Still my favorite coaster in the world. 310 ft, 93 mph, 80 degree first drop, 6595 ft long. Excellent at everything (except inversions, I guess). Our second ride on it was at night, and my arms got plastered with bugs, which was interesting.
Eric: 10/10, 10/10
Maria: 10/10, 10/10
Telesilla: 9/10
Serge: 9/10, 10/10


7. Rougarou
Steel floorless coaster on the same track that used to hold Mantis, which was a stand-up coaster. Looping. 145 ft, 60 mph. So basically, same track, new train. Bumps your head quite a bit. Somewhat average.
Eric: 5/10
Maria: 6/10
Telesilla: 6/10
Serge: 3/10



8. Valravn
New in 2016. Steel dive coaster. You sit 8 across in 3 rows. Ride takes you out over the first drop and holds you there for a few seconds. Great experience in the front row (1st rating below), only okay in the back row (2nd rating below). 223 ft, 75 mph, 90 degree drop. Smooth. Cool view at the top.
Eric: 8/10, 7/10
Maria: 10/10, 8/10
Telesilla: 10/10, 8/10
Serge: 10/10, 9/10


9. Blue Streak
Oldest coaster in park (1964), wooden. 78 ft, 40 mph. Out and back track. Smooth for a wooden coaster.
Eric: 4/10
Telesilla: 3/10
Serge: 5/10


10. Raptor
Steel coaster with 6 inversions (feels like more). Floorless, so your feet hang. 137 ft, 57 mph, 3790 ft long. Tallest/fastest/longest inverted coaster in the world when it opened (1994).
Eric: 7/10
Maria: 7/10
Telesilla: 7/10
Serge: 7/10


11. Gatekeeper
Steel coaster with a winged floorless train design. Has the highest inversion of any coaster in the world (at 170 ft). Cool track design takes you through multiple keyhole structures. 170 ft, 67 mph.
Eric: 8/10
Maria: 7/10
Telesilla: 7/10
Serge: 7/10

wicked twister

12. Wicked Twister
Steel U-shaped launch coaster that takes you forward/backward up the two towers. Unlike Possessed at Dorney Park, both towers have twists. Currently the tallest (215 ft) and fastest (72 mph) inverted (track above train) coaster in the world.
Eric: 5/10
Telesilla: 8/10
Serge: 6/10


13. Windseeker
High (301 ft) swing ride. Equivalent to the same ride at many other Cedar Fair parks. My mom says that it is relatively unusual for it to be able to run, as it is so windy in Sandusky. The Windseeker in Canada’s Wonderland wasn’t running due to wind while we there.
Eric: 4/10
Maria: 5/10
Telesilla: 6/10
Serge: 7/10


14. Gemini
Racing wooden coaster. 125 ft, 60 mph. Tracks are asynchronous, so sometimes you feel like you are winning and sometimes not. Maria and my train beat Telesilla and Serge’s.
Eric: 5/10
Maria: 4/10
Telesilla: 8/10
Serge: 7/10


15. Top Thrill Dragster
We got to ride it! It was closed all day, until opening around 10:15pm. Awesome experience to ride it at night. Launching steel coaster that goes 0 to 120 mph in 3.8 seconds. Then you go up straight up 420 feet (2nd tallest coaster in the world) before falling straight back down. Ride is only 17 seconds, but so awesome.
Eric: 10/10
Maria: 10/10
Serge: 10/10

(Me, Maria, Serge, and Telesilla on Cedar Point’s beach)


Comparing Wildwater Kingdom Water Parks

Cedar Fair will have to confirm this, but Maria and I may be the first people to ever goto Wildwater Kingdom in Allentown, PA and Wildwater Kingdom in Aurora, OH on back-to-back days.

First, the obvious: Parks should have different names. It’s stupid that they’re called the same thing.

Second, the subjective conclusion: The park in Pennsylvania is better, but the park in Ohio has more potential.

I’m not a water park enthusiast (I much prefer roller coasters), but I’ll try to compare the two water parks. Maria and I only do tube slides. We don’t body slides.

Wildwater Kingdom in Allentown, PA (inside Dorney Park):

Park map can be found on this morning’s post about Dorney Park. Two lazy rivers. Two wave pools. For the slides, we rode Constrictor and Boa Blasters at the Snake Pit, Cascade, and Aquablast.

Wildwater Kingdom in Aurora, OH:


Park map

wildwater kingdom ohio

One lazy river. One wave pool. For the slides, we rode Liquid Lightning (which flows into one of the giant funnels). Should have ridden the tubes at Thunder Falls, but we were too tired.


If you read about the attractions of the parks in Ohio and Pennsylvania, it’s pretty clear that the Pennsylvania park has more options. And it’s attached to a park with coasters. So it wins, right now.


However, in the past, the world’s largest theme park area was located in Aurora, OH. Please, please read the linked-to article in the previous sentence; it is great. In 2001, Six Flags World of Adventure in Aurora, OH combined a world-class Six Flags park with a Sea World and a water park. Just compare the below park map to the one for Wildwater Kingdom by itself above.

six flags ohio

At about 700 acres altogether, the mega-park was literally created by building a bridge between a full-sized Six Flags and a full-sized SeaWorld. Consider the scope of it: Disneyland Park is about 70 acres (or one-tenth the size) while the garganuan Animal Kingdom is 500 (including the giant safari area traversed by truck.)

And then it collapsed on itself.

Six years after becoming the world’s largest theme park, only a fraction of the property around Geauga Lake would re-open in 2008 – the water park Cedar Fair had built on the remains of SeaWorld.

I think it is fascinating to see the fate of some of the coasters at Geauga Lake (info from Wikipedia). I rode 2 of these coasters on our road trip (would have been 3 if we went to Kings Island):
Beaver Land Mine Ride: Sold to Papea City amusement park in Yvré-l’Evêque, France
Big Dipper: Currently still standing on the property. A potential sale to two enthusiasts in September 2010 fell through. Fate is currently unknown.
Dominator: Now open at Kings Dominion
Double Loop: Demolished, sold to Cleveland Scrap for $25,000
Head Spin: Now open at Carowinds as Carolina Cobra
Raging Wolf Bobs: Demolished. Purchased for $2,500 at auction; some wood and track sold in online auctions; steel track, station, and all mechanical elements removed in 2008; part of track and car donated to Geauga County Historical Society; Full demolition of coaster took place in July 2012, more than five years after the ride last operated.
Steel Venom: Now open at Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom as Possessed
Thunderhawk: Now open at Michigan’s Adventure
Villain: Demolished, sold to Cleveland Scrap for $2,500
X-Flight: Now open at Kings Island as Firehawk

You can still see Big Dipper (opened in 1925!) from the top of some of the rides at Wildwater Kingdom.

Not everything at Wildwater Kingdom has been scrubbed of the Geagua Lake branding: