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Member Benefits

Special interest groups (SIGs)

Special Interest Groups bring together members of ORSSA with a shared interest in a topic area. SIGs develop workshops, webinars, conferences, and much more. Join a SIG to network with operations researchers in your field! Explore our list of SIGs to and join today to get in contact with representatives.

Join a SIG

ORSSA membership is encouraged but not required to join.  Review the options below and join or update your preferences.

SIG: Artificial intelligence

Artificial intelligence (AI) is the simulation of human intelligence in machines programmed to think and learn like humans. It encompasses various technologies, including machine learning, natural language processing, and robotics, enabling computers to perform tasks that typically require human intelligence, such as decision-making, speech recognition, and visual perception.

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Head of SIG: Jess Rees

Jess Rees, a Senior Data Scientist at Discovery Limited and Certified Analytics Professional, holds a Master's degree in Information Technology from the University of Pretoria, with a specialization in Complex Network Theory and Big Data Science. Her work at Discovery has led the creation of a Natural Language Processing (NLP) center of excellence, focusing on transformer-based Large Language Models for advanced data analysis. She has architected real-time NLP solutions for sentiment analysis, topic modeling, and speech recognition, significantly enhancing operations analytics.

SIG: Combinatorial optimisation

Combinatorial optimization is a branch of optimization that deals with the optimization of discrete problems, where the goal is to find the best possible solution from a finite set of alternatives. In combinatorial optimization, the decision variables are usually binary or integer, and the problem involves choosing a set of these variables subject to some constraints, with the objective of maximizing or minimizing some function.

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Head of SIG: Dr Ruan Luies

Dr Ruan Luies is an experienced engineer and mathematical modeler with a strong background in computer and electronic engineering. He holds a PhD in Industrial Engineering from North-West University, where he focused on developing optimal route planning for solar-powered battery electric vehicles using combinatorial optimization techniques. With experience in modeling technologies such as Gurobi, CPLEX, and Clp/Cbc, and proficiency in programming languages such as C++, PHP, and web application frameworks such as Laravel, Ruan has developed a proprietary mathematical modeling language (hlpl) that can use several different solver technologies. 

SIG: Data Science

Artificial intelligence, robotics, the Internet of Things, autonomous vehicles, 3D printing, precision medicine and quantum computing hold the promise of radically changing all aspects of society. At the core of these advances are the rapidly developing fields of data science and computational thinking.

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Head of SIG: Prof Kanshukan Rajaratnam

Prof Kanshukan Rajaratnam is the Director of the School for Data Science and Computational Thinking at Stellenbosch University. His research interest is in the intersection of operations research, data science, finance and banking. His collaborations include academics at Harvard, MIT and Mbarara University. He is currently rated by the NRF as an Internationally Acclaimed Scientist.

SIG: History of OR in SA

Archiving and reflecting on the history of operations research and ORSSA helps preserve the knowledge and methodologies developed over the years, enabling future generations to learn from past achievements and challenges. This historical perspective fosters an understanding of the evolution of OR techniques and their applications, highlighting how they've addressed complex decision-making problems across various industries. Reflecting on OR's history encourages innovation by inspiring new ideas based on past successes and lessons learned, ensuring the field continues to grow and adapt to new challenges.

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Head of SIG: Marthi Harmse

Marthi Harmse currently resides in Struisbaai and is self-employed, supporting non-profit  organisations through operations research. She enjoys exploring unchartered applications  grounded in theory, and advancing operations research in practice and communication. Marthi  has 14 years’ experience in industry and 11 years’ experience in academia. She holds a  Master’s degree in operations research (2000) and a Master’s degree in computer science  (1990). To maintain sanity, Marthi started running in the early 1970s – and keeps going. She is also a former President and Treasurer of the Society. 

SIG: Quantitative Finance

Quantitative finance is a field of finance that uses mathematical and statistical methods to model and analyze financial markets and financial instruments. It aims to use these methods to make better investment decisions, understand the behaviour of financial markets, and manage financial risk.

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Head of SIG: Dr Mesias Alfeus

Dr Mesias Alfeus is the  Head  of Financial Risk Management at Stellenbosch University, South Africa. He obtained his PhD from the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) with a dissertation entitled “Stochastic Modelling of New Phenomena in Financial Markets”. His current research interests focus on Computational and Mathematical Finance, more specifically in the area of numerical methods for pricing of options and model calibration (Optimisation) including model  empirical analysis for financial risk management.

SIG: Simulation Modelling

Simulation modelling is the process of using a computer program to imitate the behaviour and interactions of a real-world system over time. Simulation models are used to test hypotheses, make predictions, and explore the behaviour of complex systems that are difficult or impossible to study directly. This SIG serves practitioners in a wide selection of simulation paradigms including discrete event, agent-based, and system dynamics modelling.  

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Head of SIG: Dr Lieschen Venter

Dr Lieschen Venter is a senior lecturer of simulation modeling, operations research, and business analytics  at the Department of Logistics, Stellenbosch University. Her research focus is on systems thinking and simulation modelling of basic education systems at the Systems Thinking for Education Policy (STEP) research group. 

SIG: Supply Chain Management

Supply chain management is the strategic coordination of business functions, including procurement, production, distribution, and sales, to optimize efficiency and meet customer demands. SCM encompasses planning, execution, and monitoring of supply chain activities, focusing on streamlining processes, reducing costs, improving visibility, and ensuring timely delivery of products and services, ultimately enhancing competitiveness and profitability.

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Head of SIG: David Clark

David Clark is a seasoned professional based in Johannesburg, holding the position of Director at Chalcid since June 2018. Chalcid specializes in providing automated, intelligent decision-making services for logistics and resource allocation at scale. David's holds an MSc in Computer Science from the University of the Witwatersrand. He has a rich history of involvement OSSA, serving in roles including President and Vice-President. 

Start a SIG

No SIG related to your field of study? Contact the Head of External Liaison today to learn how you could head up ORSSA's newest SIGs. 

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