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Operations Research is Taking Over the World

I often have postings that so-and-so from the world of operations research has become a dean or a provost or even a university president. Somewhat more rarely, I can talk about an operations researcher as a baseball player. Operations Research can lead to lots of jobs.

hatoyamaIt can even lead to becoming Prime Minister of the country with the world’s second largest economy. Yukio Hatoyama, Prime Minister designate for Japan, is not just trained in operations research but has a Ph.D. from Stanford in the subject. A search at google scholar suggests that his work was in the area of stochastic models in reliability, though it appears that his academic career was cut short (the google scholar counts suggest fairly … limited interest in his academic work). From an article in the Telegraph (UK):

Yet although Hatoyama refers jokingly to high office as “the family business”, he originally sought to avoid political life. After graduating from Tokyo University he completed an engineering PhD at Stanford University, and was set for an academic career in the US. However, his time in America coincided with the nation’s bicentenary, in 1976, and the presidential election that saw Gerald Ford replaced by Jimmy Carter. For the impressionable 29 year-old, it was an astonishing experience: such changes of government simply didn’t happen in Japan, where, despite political and monetary scandals, his grandfather’s party had remained in power since 1955.

The AP article has a nice one line definition of operations research:

Hatoyama knows the U.S. well, having obtained three postgraduate degrees from Stanford, including a doctorate in operations research, which consists of using mathematical and scientific models to make decisions within organizations.

Congratulations, Dr. Hatoyama! Now show the world how operations research training can be translated into political and economic leadership.

{ 3 } Comments

  1. Bruce | September 2, 2009 at 12:43 am | Permalink

    Stochastic processes … I recall learning that when studying financial engineering … the stuff that caused the global economy to collapse.

    Not that I’m against people with this kind of background in gov’t. It’s more a matter of how humble / arrogant they are and to what extent they believe they can “manage” other people using logical tools.

  2. tony claim | September 3, 2009 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

    I didn’t think operations research would open up so many career paths. I never though about how useful it would be in a leadership role. It does mean they have a strong awareness of what needs to be done but I would feel uncomfortable if i knew the prime minister of my country was qualified in Operations Research rather than politics which is obviously what is most necessary for a political leader.

  3. James | September 20, 2009 at 9:46 am | Permalink

    Such potential and importance attributed to this field! I am finally relieved to see progress and opinions bringing this needed issue to the world.
    Thank you for your post.

    I actually work in the field. Obviously, i find myself staring at blank faces when telling people my field of work. Hopefully this is about to change!

    Referring to the above comment: I agree! leadership roles in combination with operations research is something new that I think has some great potential. Tom Bournakas, who works in toronto, has some amazing qualifications in this — and I think he is a great example.

    Again, Thanks for the post Michael!

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