Spring 2005 UMASS Amherst
Operations Research / Management Science Seminar Series

Date: Friday, April 15, 2005

Time: 11:00 AM
Location: Isenberg School of Management, Room 112

Speaker: William Thomas

Department of History of Science
Harvard University, Cambridge, MA
Biography: Will Thomas is a 3rd year graduate student in the History of Science Department at Harvard University.  He has been interested in the history of OR since writing his senior thesis on the topic while a history major at Northwestern University.  His dissertation proposal entitled A Veteran Science: Operations Research and Postwar Anglo-American Scientific Culture has just been accepted and he is in the beginning stages of research on a project that over the next two and a half years will explore how scientists and their patrons drew upon the wartime experience of military operations research sections in such diverse historical developments as the professionalization of OR in industry and academics, the groundbreaking studies of the RAND Corporation and the involvement of elite British scientists in political affairs.
    Aside from his interest in OR and related fields, Will has also done research in the history of environmental thought and the history of physics.  He is currently organizing meetings of the History of the Physical Sciences Working Group at Harvard.  As an undergraduate he minored in physics and has published articles in the field of experimental nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR). 

TITLE: The Postwar Establishment of OR
 in Academics and Industry

Abstract: This talk presents a review of existing research on the postwar spread of OR as well as my most current research.  In it, I examine how early advocates for the postwar spread of OR crystallized their wartime experience into their own work. I will focus primarily upon the establishment of an OR curriculum at MIT, particularly regarding the efforts of the OR pioneer Philip Morse.  What we can see from this particular slice of the history is a shift in OR from an ill-defined activity dominated by its wartime heritage to a field with an independent peacetime identity
This series is organized by the UMASS Amherst INFORMS Student Chapter. Support for this series is provided by the Isenberg School of Management, the Department of Finance and Operations Management, and the John F. Smith Memorial Fund.

For questions, please contact the INFORMS Student Chapter President, Ms. Tina Wakolbinger, wakolbinger@som.umass.edu