Michael O. Ball


Michael Ball is the Senior Associate Dean for Faculty and holds the Dean's Chair in Management Science at the Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland. He also has a joint appointment within the Institute for Systems Research (ISR) in the Clark School of Engineering and is a member of the Decision, Operations and Information Technologies Department within the Smith School.

What Happens Now, After the Boeing Crashes?

SMITH BRAIN TRUST  It took days of pressure from airlines, policymakers and regulators around the world before the Federal Aviation Administration announced the grounding of the Boeing 737 Max-8. "The FAA and the United States came across as being very reactive and lacking leadership. Looking at it objectively, the FAA sought to make an initial assessment before making its decision, which is quite reasonable.

Why There's Turbulence Around Privatizing Air Traffic Control

It's an idea that has, at various points, had support from both major political parties. And it's already been done in many major industrialized countries. So what's so difficult about privatizing air traffic control here in the United States? Nearly everything, says the Smith School's Michael Ball. Air traffic control has long been government-run for several reasons. There's the fact that it involves the use of a public good, the national airspace. And there's the overriding public concern for safety. But there are also potential advantages from taking air traffic control out of the direct control of the government, says Ball. Read more...

How New Baggage Rules Will Affect Travelers, Airlines

Air passengers are poised for improved baggage handling as a result of a broader set of forthcoming rule changes from the U.S. Department of Transportation. Smith School professor Martin Dresner says the new rules won't significantly hurt airlines, which already do a pretty good job of delivering bags reliably and on time. He says one possible winner might be Southwest Airlines. Read more...

Smith & IBM Host Cybersecurity Analytics Workshop

Cybersecurity analytics was the theme of the Fifth Annual Business Analytics Workshop, held in College Park, Md., on Monday, May 18, 2015. Co-sponsored by the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business and IBM, the day-long workshop consisted of topics ranging from calculating cybersecurity investments to applying machine learning to cyber defense. The workshop provided ample time for questions from the audience and speakers delivered real-time solutions to some of the attendees.

Smith School Makes Significant Contributions at Informs 2008 Annual Meeting

College Park, MD – October 13, 2008 – This year’s annual conference from the Institute for Operations Research and The Management Sciences (INFORMS), the largest professional society in the world for professionals in the field of operations research (O.R.), is significantly influenced by contributions from University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business.

Revenue management with minimal demand information

Hotels, cruise lines and car rental companies all use similarly complicated models for revenue management. These models require information about how many people are going to want those airline seats in the future—they need to forecast demand for their product into the future. Unfortunately, forecasting is notoriously difficult and demand estimates are inaccurate. The state of the economy, seasonal variations in travel demand and even the competitive actions of other airlines make finding reliable information even more difficult.Airlines want to sell their seats to the right customers at the right time for the right price. The more fare classes or products they have, the more difficult it is to optimize the revenue for each product. That is, airlines have turned to complex mathematical models for revenue management.

Airport Slot Auctions

In the absence of slot controls, current policies at congested airports implicitly encourage airlines to overschedule and then cancel or delay flights. If airline A acts responsibly and does not increase its schedule at a congested airport, it will have gives a competitor the opportunity to schedule more flights at that airport; if that competitor decides to increase its schedule, airline A may lose market share. To combat these problems administrative slot controls have been put in place at certain airports. These administrative rules have distorted airline behavior by encouraging slot hoarding and inefficient use of slots. Market-based approaches to slot allocation have the potential to addresses these problems in a much more effective manner.


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