Cuban International Conference on Operations Research (ICOR 2016, 2017)

March 2017 workshop conference in Havana, Cuba

Form for applying to the conference:   2017-cuban-conference-announcement-12thiwor-b


Materials Related to my Talk at the 12th International Conference on Operations Research in Havana, Cuba, posted at:

PowerPoint slides of the talk
Keller Cuba talk March 2016 A MARKOV DECISION TREE MODEL  (PowerPoint file)
Keller-Cuba-talk-March-2016-A-MARKOV-DECISION-TREE-MODEL  (pdf file)

Extended abstract of the talk
Extended abstract-Prof-L-Robin-Keller-12TH-ICOR-March-5th-2016

Jiaru Bai (Merage doctoral student), Cristina del Campo (Universidad Complutense de Madrid and UCI visitor in 2016), L. Robin Keller,  “Markov Chain Models in Practice: A Review of Low Cost Software Options”, Publication in English, also available in Spanish: “Modelos de Cadenas de Markov en la Práctica:  Una Revisión de Opciones de Software de Bajo Coste”, 2017, Investigación Operacional, Vol. 38(1), pages 56-62,, accepted May 30, 2016. Journal website:, celebrating 50th anniversary of publication in 2016.

Keller #43

This paper was written in Spanish (and English) to facilitate communication with Spanish-speaking scholars in Cuba and elsewhere, who aim to conduct Markov cost effectiveness analyses and would benefit from low cost software alternatives. The working paper is in English and Spanish versions:

Abstract:  Markov processes (or Markov chains) are used for modeling a phenomenon in which changes over time of a random variable comprise a sequence of values in the future, each of which depends only on the immediately preceding state, not on other past states. A Markov process (PM) is completely characterized by specifying the finite set S of possible states and the stationary probabilities (i.e. time-invariant) of transition between these states.   The software most used in medical applications is produced by TreeAge, since it offers many advantages to the user.  But, the cost of the TreeAge software is relatively high.  Therefore in this article two software alternatives are presented: Sto Tree and the zero cost add-in program “markovchain” implemented in R.  An example of a cost-effectiveness analysis of two possible treatments for advanced cervical cancer, previously conducted with the Treeage software, is re-analyzed with these two low cost software packages.
RESUMEN (en Español): Los procesos de Markov (o cadenas de Markov) se utilizan para el modelización de un fenómeno en el que el  cambio con el tiempo de una variable aleatoria comprenden una secuencia de valores en el futuro, cada uno de los cuales depende únicamente del estado inmediatamente anterior, no de otros estados pasados. Un proceso de Markov (PM) se caracteriza por completo mediante la especificación del conjunto S finito de estados posibles y las probabilidades estacionarias (es decir, invariante en el tiempo) de transición entre esos estados. El software más utilizado en aplicaciones médicas es producido por TreeAge, ya que ofrece muchas ventajas para el usuario. Pero, el coste del software TreeAge es relativamente alto. Por lo tanto, en este artículo se presentan dos alternativas de software: Sto Tree y el paquete, gratuito, “markovchain” implementado en R. Un ejemplo de un análisis de coste-efectividad de dos tratamientos posibles para el cáncer de cuello uterino avanzado, llevado a cabo previamente con el software TreeAge, se volvió a analizar con estos dos paquetes de software de bajo coste.

2016 OR Conference in Cuba
2016 conference dates for the 12th International Conference on Operations Research in Havana, Cuba are from March 8 – 11, 2016, to be held in the (confirmed location) Riviera Hotel (, to accommodate over 100 international participants.

Conference website URL:

Updated March 1:

Attached find the final program with all speakers (attached file)



Preliminary Overview of the Conference (updated on March 1st- see the attached file above)

Tuesday 8 9:30-10:00  Opening Session
The opening Session will take place at Aula Magna (Auditorium/Hall Main= Assembly Hall or Main Hall) of Universidad de La Habana  the Habana Riviera Hotel
News will be launched at

10:00-11:00 Registration
10:30-12:00 Welcome cocktail
12:00-13:00 Opening Lecture
13:00-13:30 Coffee Break
13:30-16:00 Contributions.

Wednesday 9 09:00-10:00 Plenary Lecture
10:00-10:20 Coffee Break
10:20-12:20 Contributions
12:30-13:30 Lunch
13:30-15:00 Contributions
15:00-15:10 Coffee Break
15:10-16:30 Contributions

Thursday 10 09:00-10:00 Plenary Lecture
10:00-10:20 Coffee Break
10:20-12:20 Contributions
12:30-13:30 Lunch
13:30-15:00 Contributions
15:00-15:10 Coffee Break
15:10-16:30 Contributions

Friday 11 09:00-10:00 Plenary Lecture
10:00-10:20 Coffee Break
10:20-12:20 Contributions
12:30-13:30 Lunch
13:30-15:00 Contributions
15:00-15:10 Coffee Break
15:10-16:30 Contributions

I will organize a special stream of papers for the 2016 conference, let me know ( if you would be interested in presenting a talk. 

See the attached conference announcement and abstract submission form:

Anunciol 12 Conferencia IO web

The (confirmed) hotel is not in Old Havana, it is near the harborfront walkway.,,

Hotel Address: Avenida Paseo and Malecón (harborside walkway street), Vedado area, La Habana, Cuba. Tel: country code 53-(7)-836-4051


As of January 2016, it appears that it will be hard to get a room in the conference Hotel Riviera, though CUBATUR may be able to provide a reservation.  Tour operators have  blocked rooms and some rooms are being renovated. There are also “Casas Particulares” (sort of like a bed and breakfast, air conditioned, TVs, bathrooms and good conditions) and homes/luxury apartments from the 1950’s era in the area available to rent by the day.

Contacts at Universidad de La Habana:

Chair of the conference organizing committee: Prof. Sira Ma. Allende Alonso ,, her husband Prof. Carlos N. Bouza,, and their daughter Prof. Gemayqzel Bouza

See the (members only) article in the April 2015 OR/MS Today issue by Profs. Allende & Bouza on the history of operations research in Cuba.


Logistics, Letters and General license for Americans to travel to Cuba for research purposes

Description as of 9-2015 of how to get a charter flight from the US to Cuba (from Miami or LAX, for example) on American Airlines charter flights: From the American airlines website:  The American airlines link lists travel agents who you can book the charter flight through and get the travel visa.

For the 2015 Workshop in Old Havana, I applied for an OFAC license (U.S. Department of Treasury, Office of Foreign Asset Control) for travel to Cuba. Then I heard from them that I only needed the general license which automatically applies to all going there for research and some limited purposes. (No need to apply or report to the US government about conference travel.)

The Chair of the conference organizing committee (Prof. Sira Allende Alonso, Univ. of Havana, issued a formal letter indicating I would give a talk. Similar letters will be issued for the 2016 conference, and sent to participants via email.

I got a letter from the UC Irvine Office of Research (Export control area) stating that I was going to a research conference, that my time would be devoted full-time to the research mission. No one in Cuba or the US asked to see it.

For the 2015 Cuban OR Workshop, I pre-paid the hotel and airfare with a Canadian travel agent, traveling via Mexico. In Cuba, I changed US dollars to Cuban CUCs. (No American Credit cards could be used in Cuba previously, that is apparently changing, see below. But, beware that there often may not be ATMs or merchants who are able to take the cards. (The Mastercard website as of October 2015 does not list any ATM locations in Havana, but says there are  4 ATMs in GUANTÁNAMO:

From US government site:

These Frequently Asked Questions provide an overview of OFAC’s regulations with regard to the Cuba sanctions.  They also highlight what changes have been made to the Cuba Sanctions program as a result of the President’s announcement on December 17, 2014. 

40. Are authorized travelers in Cuba permitted to use credit or debit cards issued by a U.S. financial institution?

Yes. Travelers are advised to check with their financial institution before traveling to Cuba to determine whether the institution has established the necessary mechanisms for its issued credit or debit cards to be used in Cuba. See 31 CFR § 515.560(c)(5) and 515.584(c).

41. Can my bank refuse to allow me to use my credit or debit card in Cuba?

OFAC regulations do not require financial institutions or credit card companies to accept, maintain, or facilitate authorized financial relationships or transactions.

42. Can U.S. financial institutions permit the use of credit and debit cards they issue by, and process credit and debit card transactions for, third-country nationals whose travel to, from, or within Cuba may not fall within the 12 categories of authorized travel?

Yes. Section 515.584(c) of the CACR authorizes all transactions incident to the processing and payment of credit and debit cards transactions for third-country nationals traveling to, from, or within Cuba.


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