Jay W. Forrester

Germeshausen Professor Emeritus of Management
Senior Lecturer

University of Nebraska, BS '39, Electrical Engineering
MIT, SM '45, Electrical Engineering

Forrester, who invented random-access magnetic-core memory during the first wave of modern digital computers, also pioneered the field of system dynamics -- analysis of the behavior of systems. He pursues three main interests based on system dynamics: the System Dynamics National Model, which generates the major observed modes of economic behavior; a new management education based on the inherent, dynamic complexity of all the related parts of a corporation and brings them into a unified system; and system dynamics as a methodology for giving cohesion, meaning, and motivation to pre-college education.

Jay W. Forrester is Germeshausen Professor Emeritus and Senior Lecturer at the Sloan School of Management, Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He began his career as an electrical engineer working on servomechanisms and large-scale digital computers. While Director of the MIT Digital Computer Laboratory from 1946 to 1951, he was responsible for the design and construction of Whirlwind I, one of the first high-speed digital computers.

In 1956, Professor Forrester started the System Dynamics Group at the Sloan School and with it, the field of system dynamics. The five books he has written on system dynamics are available through Productivity Press in Portland, Oregon.

Along with many writing and speaking commitments, Professor Forrester is currently working on the National Model Project, a large computer model of the U.S. economy. He is also the director of the System Dynamics in Education Project (SDEP), which is developing ways to use system dynamics and computer modeling as a foundation for a new kind of kindergarten through 12th grade education. The SDEP project at MIT is writing Road Maps which is a guide to learning system dynamics.

Papers by Prof. Jay Forrester available online:

  1. System Dynamics and the Lessons of 35 Years (D-4224-4)
  2. The Beginning of System Dynamics (D-4165-1), provides a personal point of view about the development of system dynamics.
  3. Learning through System Dynamics as Preparation for the 21st Century (D-4434-1), explains the advantages of a system dynamics education for the future.
  4. System Dynamics and Learner-Centered-Learning in Kindergarten through 12th Grade Education (D-4337), presents views on how system dynamics may improve classroom learning.

These papers are in a format called pdf which is viewable with the Adobe Acrobat Reader. If you need instructions for the Adobe Acrobat Reader, you can visit the Adobe site or our help page.

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