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IFORS 50th

IFORS 50th logo

The International Federation of Operational Research Societies (IFORS) is holding a conference in a few weeks in South Africa. Part of the festivities is a celebration of the 50th anniversary of the organization. I am putting together a presentation on the history of IFORS and would very much welcome anything anyone has that might be relevant (including pictures from conferences, pictures of Presidents (pre-1995 or so: I think I can find Tom Magnanti on the web!) and so on. Let me (trick@cmu.edu) know if you have something! Please, please, please!

There is a wonderful indexed photo of the first international conference (Oxford 1957) available. It is too bad that conferences have grown so big that such pictures are now hardly ever taken. It is fascinating to see some of the “big names” in our field as young men, and sometimes women. Can you pick out Dantzig without checking the index? Hint: he is in the front row.

One striking aspect of the history is the variety of backgrounds of the early Presidents of IFORS. Sir Charles Goodeve was the first president of IFORS (I have a family connection with Sir Charles). He had done tremendous work in OR during World War II. The next President, Philip Morse, also did significant work during the war and went on to found the Bookhaven National Laboratory, among other institutes. The third president, Marcel Boiteux, led French Electricity and was a leading proponent of nuclear energy for that country. After Charles Salzmann finished Boiteux’ term (I know little about Salzmann), Alec Lee, a manager at Rolls-Royce became President. That is two physicists, an economist, and an automobile executive as the first presidents! Many more recent presidents (Pierskalla, Bell, Weintraub, Toth, Magnanti) are mainstream academics, though the current president (Elise del Rosario) made her mark with the San Miguel corporation, a food, beverage, and packaging company in the Philippines and South East Asia.

It has been interesting to look into the history of IFORS. For a number of reasons (primarily because its members are societies, not individuals), it is less well known than groups like INFORMS, but I am glad to be part of it. More about IFORS in the coming weeks leading up to South Africa.