This Spring 2020 issue of Foresight—number 57 since the journal began in 2005— leads off with Associate Editor Mike Gilliland’s discussion of The M4 Forecasting Competition: Takeaways for the Practitioner. Mike writes:

The M4 competition (2018) like its predecessors M (1979), M2 (1983), and M3 (1998), were designed as research endeavors intended to advance our knowledge of forecasting—and they have succeeded in doing so. But should practitioners care about the M4? Does it reflect any of the complex realities faced by business forecasters? Or was it just a scholarly exercise, of interest only to forecasting academics?

Many of the methods competing in the M4 made use of machine learning (ML) models, further stimulating interest in the application of ML for forecasting but also raising important caveats. Foresight Associate Editor Stephan Kolassa provides a needed perspective on the potential of ML forecasting models, asking Will Deep and Machine Learning Solve Our Forecasting Problems?

Considerable experimentation at Amazon Web Services shows the progress made and promise of ML models for improving forecasting performance. Our Forecaster in the Field interview features Tim Januschowski, Manager of Machine Learning Science at AWS. Tim calls for closer collaboration among the forecasting, ML, and OR communities to build better forecasting models, improving their empirical rigor, scalability, downstream implications, and software frameworks.

Foresight’s Fall 2019 issue included Part 1 of a three-part series on the initiative at Target Corporation to develop and implement a demand forecasting system capable of efficiently generating the nearly one billion weekly forecasts required by the company. The article described the overall architecture and design of the system and reveals the trade-offs made among forecast accuracy, costs, and explainability. Now, in Part 2, Phillip Yelland and Zeynep Erkin Baz recount the challenges encountered, the steps taken to address them, and the lessons learned in the process about project management, team structure, organizational dynamics, and other significant matters.

Wrapping things up, Ira Sohn, Editor for Long-Range Forecasting, explains The Economic/Energy/Environmental Conundrum with Official Projections to 2050 of the international energy outlook.

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