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
This is the main reason I emphasize short memos; 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.