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History

Though the Department is relatively new, Operations Research & Financial Engineering has had a distinguished history at Princeton. In fact, a significant portion of modern ORFE is an outgrowth of activities at Princeton between 1930 and 1960.

Princeton faculty played a major role in the development of the theory of convex optimization (both as it relates to individuals and groups). Indeed, H. Kuhn and A.W. Tucker (in the 1950s) and R.T. Rockafellar (in the 1960s) played an important role in the development of much of convex analysis. In addition, R. Gomorry laid the foundations of integer programming in the 1950s, and J. Nash, J. von Neumann, and O. Morgenstern (in the 1930s, 40s and 50s) did seminal work in the area of multi-agent, non-cooperative optimization (i.e., game theory).

Modern probability and statistics have also been influenced significantly by members of the Princeton faculty. S. Wilks (in the 1930s) and W. Feller and J. Tukey (in the 1950s) all played major roles, and G. Hunt developed the potential theory of Markov processes in the early 1960s.

And, of course, the use of digital computers in operations research owes much to Princeton. A. Turing and J. von Neumann (in the 1930s) and A. Church (in the 1950s) made enormous contributions in such areas as the theory of cellular automata, computer memory, computer reliability, and the lambda-calculus.

This distinguished tradition continues today as Princeton continues to lead the way. In fact, Princeton is the first major university to see the importance of ORFE and create a department devoted to its study and teaching.