Donald P. Gaver

February 16, 1926 – February 11, 2018

Brief Biography

Gaver APS Chairman Portrait

An active member of the Operations Research Society of America (ORSA) and the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS), Donald Gaver has advanced both organizations and the OR discipline in multiple capacities since the 1950s. Born and raised in St. Paul, Minnesota, Gaver served in the United States Navy during World War II. Afterwards, he received degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Princeton University. While working on his PhD, he was part of the Navy’s Operations Evaluation Group before accepting a position at Westinghouse Research Laboratories. In addition to his time at Westinghouse, Gaver taught courses at Stanford University and the University of California Berkeley. In 1964, moved to academia full-time at Carnegie-Mellon and eventually settled as Professor of Operations Research at the Naval Postgraduate School where remained since 1971.

Donald Gaver  died February 11, 2018 at his home in Monterey, CA.  

Internationally, Gaver is recognized for his research in applied probability modeling and the field of queueing theory. Though his work has been largely focused on operations research in the military, he has touched upon numerous application areas including problems in transportation and traffic congestion. Gaver is an elected member and fellow of numerous societies including the Institute of Mathematical Statistics, the National Academy of Engineering, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and INFORMS. Since 1954, he has published nearly one-hundred and twenty professional papers on a diverse range of applied and theoretical problems. 

Gaver has consulted with numerous organizations including the RAND Corporation (1987-1994), AT&T Bell Laboratories (1986-1994) and EPRI (1972-1989). His research has received funding from such entities at the National Security Agency, the Office of Naval Research, and the National Science Foundation. Gaver has also served on professional committees relating to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the National Research Council. In 2009, the Secretary of the Navy awarded him the Navy Distinguished Civilian Service Medal for his national security contributions and the positive influence he has had on generations of naval officers.

With ORSA/INFORMS, Gaver has held multiple positions. He was a member of the organization’s Visiting Lecturer Programing in the 1970s. In 1989, he served as chairman of the joint ORSA/TIMS College of Applied Probability (today’s Applied Probability Society). As a member of the ORSA publications committee, he was very active in the transportation science section of the discipline. In 2012, Gaver was awarded the Military Applications Society of INFORMS’ Jacinto Steinhardt Prize and was recognized for his “substantive contribution to our nation’s military capability” and his continued work in the area.


Massachusetts Institute of Technology, SB 1950

Massachusetts Institute of Technology, SM 1951

Princeton University, PhD 1956 (Mathematics Genealogy)


Academic Affiliations
Non-Academic Affiliations

Key Interests in OR/MS

Application Areas

Oral Histories

Donald Gaver (2015) Interview by Patricia Jacobs, July 1, 2015. Produced by the Naval Postgraduate School's Center for Educational Design, Development, and Distribution, Monterey, CA

NOTE: The video chapter transcripts below are searchable, with search results displayed as marks on the time bar above the search box. Click a mark to jump to the search word or phrase in the video and transcript, or click on any word in the transcript to jump to that point in the video.

Jump to Chapters

Chapter 1: Overview, Family and Early Schooling
Chapter 2: Two Years in the Navy
Chapter 3: MIT Undergraduate
Chapter 4: Meeting Tukey, Koopman, Feller, Kac and Hooke at the Operations Evaluation Group
Chapter 5: Studying Reliability at Princeton
Chapter 6: Simulating Power Systems at Westinghouse
Chapter 7: Joining the Carnegie Mellon Faculty
Chapter 8: Invitation to join the Naval Postgraduate School
Chapter 9: Diverse Consulting Activities
Chapter 10: National Research Council Fellow Program
Chapter 11: Students and Research Sponsors
Chapter 12: Service on National Research Council Panels
Chapter 13: Ther Gaver-Stehfest Algorithm
Chapter 14: Working on Problems with Military Officers
Chapter 15: The Overlap Between Operations Research and Statistics
Chapter 16: More about Colleagues
Chapter 17: The Practice of Operations Research

Memoirs and Autobiographies


Naval Postgraduate School Faculty. Donald P. Gaver, Jr.: Professional History. Accessed March 12, 2015. (link)


Donald P. Gaver, Jr. 1926-2018.  Monterey Herald, Feb 17, 2018 (link)

Awards and Honors

American Statistical Association Fellow 1985

Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences Fellow 2003

Statistics in Defense and National Security Distinguished Service Award 2007  

National Academy of Engineering Member 2009

Navy Distinguished Civilian Service Medal 2009

Jacinto Steinhardt Prize 2012

American Association for Advancement of Science Fellow

Professional Service

Applied Probability Society Chair, 1989-1990

Selected Publications

Gaver Jr D. P. (1959) Imbedded Markov chain analysis of a waiting-line process in continuous time. The Annals of Mathematical Statistics, 30(3): 698-720.

Gaver Jr D. P. (1962) A waiting line with interrupted service, including priorities. Journal of the Royal Statistical Society. Series B (Methodological), 24(1): 73-90.

Gaver Jr D. P. (1966) Observing stochastic processes, and approximate transform inversion. Operations Research, 14(3): 444-459.

Gaver Jr D. P. (1967) Probability models for multiprogramming computer systems. Journal of the ACM, 14(3): 423-438.

Gaver Jr D. P. (1968) Headstart strategies for combating congestion. Transportation Science, 2(2), 172-181.

Gaver Jr D. P. & Thompson G. L. (1973) Programming and Probability Models in Operations Research. Brooks-Cole Publishing Company: Belmont, CA.

Gaver D. P. & Lewis P. A. W. (1980) First-order autoregressive gamma sequences and point processes. Advances in Applied Probability, 12: 727-745.

Gaver D. P., Jacobs P. A., & Latouche G. (1984) Finite birth-and-death models in randomly changing environments. Advances in Applied Probability, 16: 715-731.

Becker K. J., Gaver D. P., Glazebrook K. D., Jacobs P. A., & Lawphongpanich S. (2000) Allocation of tasks to specialized processors: A planning approach. European Journal of Operational Research, 126(1): 80-88.

Barkdoll T. C., Gaver D. P., Glazebrook K. D., Jacobs P. A., & Posada S. (2002) Suppression of enemy air defenses (SEAD) as an information duel. Naval Research Logistics, 49(8): 723-742.

Gaver D. O. & Schramm H. C. (2013) Lanchester for cyber: The mixed epidemic combat model, Naval Research Logistics, 60(7): 599-605.