An interview with INFO 6020 Professor, Dr. Xiaoyue Jiang

Q1: Why do you feel that it is important to have a Quantitative Modeling course included in the MBA core curriculum?

It has been the general consensus among Freeman faculty that quantitative modeling skills are fundamental to the MBA curriculum for all specializations. Today’s business practice is very much data-driven. Being able to converting from data to insights, and from insights to optimal decisions would put you and your organizations in an advantageous position. The skills gained from a qualitative modeling course as such directly respond to such a need.

Q2: We have students in our class with many different levels of experience with quantitative modeling- how will you approach teaching such a diverse group?

I have been advised by more experienced faculty members that our MBA students have high mean, and large variance. In other words, you guys are all very smart, in the meantime, as a group you have very diverse backgrounds. Some of you are very comfortable with computer, some are analytically affluent, and some possess very strong business experience and insights. For such an intelligent group, I would like do the following:

1.   1. Try to make the course interesting and relevant, so that everyone is motivated and is willing to spend time on this subject.

2.   2. Promote class participation and a spirit of team work so that all students can share their strengths with the whole class, and learn from each other.

3.   3. Support individualized learning experience. As I said in the class, my office door is open for everyone at anytime. You are also encouraged to schedule meetings with me in advance within or outside the official office hours.

4.   4. I will adopt a Camtasia tool to help the class with Excel-related matters.  

Q3: Could you give a few examples of the types of models that we will be building in our class?

We will have models ranging from operations (production mix, and queuing simulation), marketing (advertisement), and finance (portfolio optimization) to energy (Oil and gas exploration decision-making). Fundamentally, this is the course about methodology not about any domain-specific subject. Once we possess adequate quantitative skills and establish a habit of quantitative thinking, there is no limit to confine our modeling potential.

Q4: How did you become interested in modeling? What types of modeling do you do in your academic work?

I am from an economic mathematics background. My father, mother and elder brother have various engineering backgrounds. The commonality is in fact modeling, yet at the early stage of my academic life, I summarized it as “applied mathematics”.  My full appreciation of the notion of “modeling” did not develop until I got into graduate school and started publishing work on reliability modeling.  Some of models I have done so far include reliability and maintenance optimization models, software reliability models, and queuing and supply chain models. My recent modeling interests are focused in the energy arena, in particular, on renewably energy integration and electricity market design.  I see huge modeling opportunities in this emerging area, and better yet, a lot of modeling skills and methodologies I have been accumulating over these years can be nicely applied to this seemly quite different subject — that is really the beauty of modeling.