MIT Reports to the President 1999–2000


The Operations Research Center (ORC), established in 1953 as a first-of-a-kind interdepartmental graduate degree program, completed its 47th year of operation in 1999—2000. The center administers its own graduate programs and a varied research program of methodological and applied projects. It maintains a reading room with a small library, as well as a contemporary computational environment of workstations and microcomputers.

This report summarizes the center’s 1999—2000 activities and briefly reviews its educational, research and outreach programs.


Professor James B. Orlin, Edward Pennell Brooks Professor of Management Science and Cynthia Barnhart, Associate Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering served as Codirectors during 1999—2000.

This year the ORC had 42 affiliated faculty and senior staff, with faculty drawn from the School of Management and the Departments of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Ocean Engineering, Mathematics, Aeronautics and Astronautics, Mechanical Engineering, Nuclear Engineering, and Urban Studies and Planning.

The Operations Research Center offers two interdepartmental graduate degree programs, a Ph.D. and a master’s degree. During 1999—2000, these programs enrolled 51 students–37 PhD candidates and 14 S.M. candidates. The Center conferred 8 master’s degrees and 8 Ph.D.’s. Several other Ph.D. theses were in the final stages of completion in the summer of 2000.


The ORC’s academic programs continue to be recognized as ranking among the very best nationally and internationally. The program, moreover, is repeatedly cited as achieving an excellent balance between application and methodological domains.

Several affiliated faculty were active in significant educational development projects at MIT. Professor Larson heads up CAES. Professors Dimitris J. Bertsimas and Robert M. Freund collaborated in the curriculum development of the graduate program with Singapore in High-Performance Computation for Engineered Systems. The program offered its first subjects in fall of 1999.


Research activities spanned a wide spectrum of methodological topics and applications, ranging from small, unsponsored projects involving a single faculty supervising a student's thesis, to much larger sponsored programs involving several faculty/staff and students.

Methodological research includes such topics as linear, nonlinear, and combinatorial optimization, solution methods for integer programming, interior point methods for linear and nonlinear programming; cluster analysis; parallel and distributed computation and algorithms; network flow algorithms; network design; probabilistic combinatorial optimization; deterministic and stochastic facility location; queueing theory, including queueing networks; risk analysis, stochastic processes; classical and Bayesian statistics; and decision analysis and statistical decision theory.

ORC faculty are also currently contributing to application domains as wide ranging as manufacturing, communications, transportation, public services, logistics, marketing, financial services, health care, and nuclear engineering. Current projects are addressing such topics as air traffic control, epidemiology, AIDS testing, life-cycle modeling of municipal solid waste, safety and risk analysis in air transportation, telecommunication network design, supply chain management, production scheduling, and transportation logistics.

Several organizations sponsored research projects at the ORC during 1999—2000, for example: the National Science Foundation; C.S. Draper Laboratory (several projects and Draper Fellowships); Computer Sciences Corporation; General Motors; Federal Aviation Administration's Center of Excellence for Aviation Operations Research; Logistics Management Institute; Office of Naval Research; Singapore/MIT Alliance Program; and the United Airlines.


In its effort to serve the professional community at large, the ORC regularly undertakes a number of outreach activities.

Professor Amedeo R. Odoni offered a professional course during the 1999 summer session: "Airport Systems: Strategic Planning and Detailed Design."

The ORC Seminar Series was privileged to have many distinguished speakers from industry and academia this year. Among the many operations research professionals who made presentations were: Mitchell Burman (Analytics Inc.); Nitin Patel (Cytel Software); Egon Balas (Carnegie-Mellon); Adrian Lewis (U. of Waterloo); Gilbert Syswerda (i2 Tech); Anna Nagurney (U/Mass); Jan Van Mieghem (Northwestern); Yale Herer (Tel Aviv Univ); David Gamarnik (IBM); John Rust (Yale); Leonid Khachiyan (Rutgers); Edward Kaplan (Yale); Tom Cook (McKinsey and Co); Jim Dai (Georgia Inst of Tech); Tom Luo (McMaster Univ); Jaime Barcelo (Universitat Politecnica de Catalunya).

The center also offered a program of activities during the January independent activities period, including a series of presentations on the practice of operations research and management science presented by Bill Hall and Michael Ricard (Draper Labs); Les Servi (GTE); Ted Theodosopoulos (Bank Boston); Tim Kniker (Analytics, Inc.,) Hong Jin (i2 Technologies); Tsuneo Fujiwara (KPMG Peat Marwick LLP); Joseph Nemec (Booz Allen and Hamilton, Inc.) and Susan O’Dell (The Sabre Group).

The Operations Research Center conducted a Strategic Review during 1999-2000. We first began by establishing an internal strategic review committee. This committee consisted of the two ORC Codirectors and a selected number of ORC affiliated faculty members. The committee met regularly to discuss possible strategic directions for the ORC and to manage the review process. As part of our review, we conducted extensive surveys of ORC alumni, faculty and current students. We then held a one-day strategic retreat for ORC faculty, and other invited faculty. After the retreat, we held another one-day meeting in which we presented the findings of these efforts to an External Review Committee consisting of leaders in Operations Research, both from academia and industry. This Committee provided feedback and recommendations to the Codirectors for future directions. These recommendations will be incorporated into a strategic review of the ORC this coming academic year.

In 2000—2001, the focus will be on further evaluation (where needed) and implementation of recommendations from the strategic review process.


The ORC has always attempted to provide an environment that is responsive to the varied professional and personal needs of the OR community at MIT, and that builds upon diversity.

The ORC makes no faculty appointments. The staff of the ORC is composed of two support staff members and one administrative officer. Of these three staff, all are women, and one is African-American.

The center’s graduate students are diverse, representing over 17 countries. In keeping with the center’s tradition of seeking and attracting outstanding women, the number of female students has historically averaged about 30%. Currently, the percentage of women is below our historical average. One of the past priorities of the ORC was was to recruit more outstanding women graduate students. We were quite successful in this task during this year’s admission’s pool. We made an offer of admission to five women candidates of which four accepted our offer.


The ORC-affiliated faculty and students continue to assume positions of leadership and receive many awards within the Operations Research and Management Science community. Cynthia Barnhart, Andrew Armacost, and Keith Ware (United Parcel Service) were awarded Best Overall Presentation at the 39th Annual Symposium of the Airline Group of the International Federation of Operations Research Societies (AGIFORS). Their paper was entitled, "Planning Models for Designing Express Shipment Service Networks." Arnold Barnett presented the Omega Rho Distinguished Lecture at the INFORMS Conference in Philadelphia. Professor Barnett was also the 1999 honorary inductee into Omega Rho for his contributions to Operations Research/Management Science. Arnold Barnett received a teaching excellence award from the Sloan School, for the third year in a row, and his ninth award in total. (Five of these awards have been for Teacher of the Year.) Robert Freund was named Teacher of the Year at the MIT Sloan School of Management. Rob was also the recipient of the Class of 1960 Innovation in Education Award this year. Michel Goemans received an IBM Faculty Partnership Award. Gordon Kaufman was elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Dick Larson gave an invited testimony before the U.S. House of Representatives. Andrew Lo was the recipient of the 1999 Graham and Dodd Award. Tom Magnanti was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Also, Tom was the IFORS Distinguished Lecturer at the Salt Lake City INFORMS Meeting. Sanjoy Mitter is the recipient of the IEEE 2000 Control Systems Award. This is the major award in the field of Systems and Control. Andreas Schulz was elected by the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities and the Academy of Natural Scientists Leopoldina as Founding Member of The Young Academy of Science. Also, Andreas was the recipient of a General Motors Innovation Grant. Larry Wein was elected as Editor-in-Chief of Operations Research. Marina Epelman, an ORC alumna, received Second Prize in the INFORMS Nicholson Student Paper Competition for 1999—2000, for research conducted as part of her dissertation at the ORC. William Hall, an ORC alum, received Honorable Mention in the INFORMS 1999 George Dantzig Dissertation Award. Bill's dissertation also received the INFORMS Transportation Science Section Award.

More information about the Operations Research Center can be found on the World Wide Web at

Cynthia Barnhart, James Orlin

MIT Reports to the President 1999–2000