I have three major
goals when I teach this class.
In order of importance they are:
1. To provide practice in the art of
thinking abstractly and concretely
about the same problem at the same time. Shadow prices, allowable
increases & decreases, and supplementary variables can be
dauntingly abstract, but proactively managing an enterprise in a world
where prices, costs, and resources are subject to sudden change is
The best way to develop this kind of thinking in
yourself, and the only way I can guide the process, is through writing,
which is why this course is a part of the "Critical Thinking Through
Writing" University-wide initiative. I emphasize short memos
because in a long report it's
too tempting to compartmentalize the abstract from the concrete.
2. To build up your skill and
proficiency with Excel. More important
than any particular skill is the skill of rapidly and efficiently
learning to do new things using new functions, tools, and techniques.
This is the skill which will be the greatest help to you in benefiting
from whatever comes next to replace Excel!
3. To teach you about a broad
subsample of the myriad practical
applications of linear, integer, and nonlinear programming.
The first objective will apply
directly to the careers of every one of
The second objective supports the
first, and will also apply directly
to the careers of nearly all of you.
The third objective supports the first
two, and will apply directly to
the careers of a minority of you.