Frederick C. Taverner
MS Applied Mathematics
University of Arizona
Daniel H. Wagner
I joined Wagner Associates in July, 1989 as a software analyst and was promoted to senior analyst in 1991. In that time I worked on a number of different projects as both a project leader and technical staff member. Let me describe two of them.
The first project I worked on was the Boeing P3C Update IV project. Our work involved writing computer software to provide various decision aids to the tactical officer of a Navy P3C Orion aircraft. An example would be, "Given this situation, what would I do next?" These aircraft are primarily used to track submarines in the oceans of the world. My work focused on writing and testing specific parts of the software as well as developing and executing a formal test procedure to make sure our software met all of our client's expectations and requirements. As part of my efforts, I was able to spend six months on-site at Boeing assisting their people put together our software with their avionics system. Wagner's contribution to this project involved more than 50 man-years of effort. This software was intensely mathematical and included concepts from probability, statistics, optimization, calculus, and Monte Carlo randomization techniques.
Another of my projects involved the development of software to choose an investment portfolio (set of investments) from a fixed pool of assets so that the portfolio is expected to provide a target return (say, 12% per year) with minimum risk to the investor. This project involved two major steps. The first was to develop an algorithm by which the investment choices could be made. The second step involved implementing software that makes these choices and then testing the algorithm to ensure that it is working correctly. As with the Boeing project, we had a set of requirements to meet. However, in this case, the effort required by us was much smaller (about one man-year). The mathematics used here included linear and integer programming, statistics, and optimization.
While I have just described two software projects, the software only comes about after a major effort has been spent on problem formulation and design. In some work, problem formulation constitutes the entire project. When we begin to work with a new client, most of our initial time is spent communicating with that client in order to determine that client's needs and desires as well as ways to satisfy that client's requirements. This kind of communication is key to a successful business relationship. It is one thing to know a subject backwards and forwards, but it is even more important to be able to communicate that information in a clear and concise manner.
Not knowing it at the time, I am glad to have studied a wide range of non-mathematics subjects, including English, literature, history, music, public speaking, and some engineering. This broad base of knowledge gives me the background to communicate with clients and also provides me with the logical problem-solving skills that I use in my technical work.