EOR Students and their Bed of Roses

Marieke Musegaas and Nick Huberts are PhD students at the Department of Econometrics and OR. Marieke’s field of research is cooperative game theory and especially OR-games. She likes doing sports, playing board games and going on holidays. Nick’s field of research applies game theory to a real options setting which analyzes strategic investment decisions under uncertainty. He likes to play (board) games, discover the secrets of Europe’s beautiful nature, attend festivals and study Hermetic and Thelemic traditions.

The life of an EOR student is not a bed of roses. For instance, did you ever encounter the following situation? Suppose you are going to a birthday party and you are preparing a gift at your parents’ place. Your mother asks you whether that one person will also come to the party, since she is quite fond of that person. You reply by telling her that this person is from a different friend group and that those friend groups are disjoint. She gives you the look an EOR student would give when he sees someone trying to construct a proof by means of an example rather than hard core mathematics: her jaw drops and she wonders whether you have been drinking again this week, instead of studying. Courageously you try to explain her the definition of disjoint sets, but your attempts are due to fail; probably Saint Nicholas will have something to say about that this year. These situations remind us of the fact that we, EOR and mathematics students, are a special kind of humans: nerds.

The look from your father was not that different either when you explained him that the number of his gray hairs grows exponentially, but should converge in the end. Despite his self-announced disinterest in the topic, he replied by showing you all of his still colored hairs. Proudly he reminds you of the fact that his father was growing gray hair at a much younger age. Unfortunately he does not seem to understand when I explain him I have difficulties with the cross-generational consistency in his argument. Nevertheless, I could easily provide him a counterexample, something I will probably remind him of when I will write him for Saint Nicholas. Side note: I am not sure if my risk aversion allows me that. Yeah, those situations are the collateral damage of studying Econometrics and Operations Research.

The number of his gray hairs grows exponentially

Luckily my study friends do understand when it is claimed that studying EOR is a sufficient but not a necessary condition to become wealthy and rich. My brother however, would not understand that this is not an ‘if and only if’-statement. This is of course due to the fact that this group of study friends is sufficiently biased.

Lately, Nick tried to elaborate on the happiness of a random dog. He thought that, ceteris paribus, its happiness would be very discontinuous. Whenever a member of the pack enters the room an instant process jump of joyfulness takes place in its brain. Marieke argued that such a relation should be very continuous, but may seem discontinuous like a Random Walk. Perhaps the relation could be heteroskedastic and depends on the breed. We concluded that these things are just hard to say, ex-ante.

Or, do you remember that moment when your housemate saw your lecture notes for the first time, and wondered whether you were not just reading your book upside down? By then you had learned that there exists a probability that for every attempt you make in explaining someone, some will just not learn. Hence, your optimal reaction curve dictates: it is better to just tell them they are right.

Finally we do wonder whether the state dependency of wickedness is caused by the number of years of studying EOR or the number of ECTS. Hopefully, most of you now wonder whether it is right to talk about causation and not correlation. If so, then this implies you are truly one of us and there is no turning back. We are very sorry, we are with you.

Text by: Marieke Musegaas & Nick Huberts