Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Education and brains

"To repeat what others have said, requires education; to challenge it, requires brains."

Mary Pettibone Poole, A Glass Eye at a Keyhole, 1938

I had not come across this thought-provoking quotation until yesterday; then I was in a meeting and found it inscribed on the wall of the small conference room. Yes, it has O.R. applications. Part of the skill in the O.R. scientist should be (must be?) the ability to recognise where a model developed earlier in a different context might apply to a practical problem. So queue theory is used for call centres and for slow moving inventories. Location theory applies to ATM outlets and airports. But sometimes the obvious is not appropriate -- then the O.R. scientist needs brains to challenge the obvious.

Wikipedia doesn't tell me anything about the author or the book. And I wonder who has used their brains and challenged Mary's words, rather than repeat them?

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