Sidney W. Hess

October 21, 1932

Brief Biography

Hess Presidential Gallery Portrait

Sidney Hess was born in Ames, Iowa and served as the twenty-third President of The Institute of Management Sciences (TIMS). Hess studied chemical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, afterwards joining the U.S. Army. Having taken a year of graduate-level chemical engineering courses, Hess was assigned to the Army’s Chemical Corps Operations Research Group. Knowing little to nothing about operations research, on the suggestion of his superiors Hess read George E. Kimball and Philip Morse’s Methods of Operations Research (1952). Hess familiarized himself with probability, anti-submarine warfare, and simulation before starting his own work on modeling gas cloud behavior under varying meteorological conditions.

 After two years in the Army, Hess learned of the new OR graduate program at Case Institute of Technology. Persuaded by Case Professor Leonard Arnoff at an Operations Research Society of America (ORSA) meeting in Washington, Hess joined the Case group as a research assistant. There, he studied under such OR pioneers as C. West Churchman and Russell Ackoff, working on inventory control, distribution, R&D management, and marketing science. Hess graduated with one of the first Operations Research PhDs in the United States.

Hess has led a balanced professional career of OR practice and education. He was first employed at Atlas Chemical Industries before accepting an associate professorship at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton Business School in 1966. He returned to industry as Director of Pharmaceutical Development at ICI Americas, retiring as Vice President and General Manager of the company’s Aerospace Division. For the next decade (1986-1996), Hess taught management at Drexel University.

Hess’s research has largely focused on the modeling and implementation of solutions for real-world problems. In 1965, he and four others offered the first OR and computational programming solution to political redistricting. This process was later adapted to the realignment of sales territories. Using decision trees and dynamic programming, Hess has also made advances in the process of selecting research and development projects.

Having served as TIMS secretary for six years, Hess was elected president 1976. After his term, he remained very active with the organization. Hess organized the first Gordon Research Conference on OR which evolved into the annual Colleges of Practice, Marketing, and Information Science summer workshops. He was also a founding member of the Management Sciences Roundtable and helped ease the climate of animosity that existed between ORSA and TIMS. Hess played a major role in uniting the two organizations and chaired the subcommittee that recommended the name and logo of their successor, the Institute of Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS). For his service, he received the TIMS Distinguished Service Medal in 1982 and was elected an inaugural Fellow of INFORMS in 2002.

Other Biographies

(1962) About the Authors: Sidney W. Hess. IRE Transactions on Engineering Management, 9(4): 187. (link)

INFORMS. Miser-Harris Presidential Gallery: Sidney W. Hess. Accessed March 12, 2015. (link)


Massachusetts Institute of Technology, BS 1953

Delft Technical Institute, Fulbright 1953-1954

Case Institute of Technology (Case Western), PhD 1960


Academic Affiliations
Non-Academic Affiliations
  • U. S. Army
  • Atlas Chemical Industries
  • ICI Americas
  • Midwest Research Institute
  • Union Carbide Chemical Company

Key Interests in OR/MS

Application Areas

Oral Histories

Sidney W. Hess (2015) Interview by Barry List, November 2, 2015.  Video by David Tavani,  Philadelphia, PA

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: Origins of Operations Research for Legislative Redistricting
Chapter 2: Working at Atlas Chemical
Chapter 3: Teaching at Wharton, and Returing to Atlas - Now ICI
Chapter 4: Dissertation on R&D Project Selection
Chapter 5: Service with The Institute for the Management Sciences
Chapter 6: The Creation of INFORMS
Chapter 7: Early Background, Education, and Introduction to Operations Research
Chapter 8: Influence of and by John D. C. Little
Chapter 9: Teaching Modelling Skills
Chapter 10: What to be Remembered For
Chapter 11: The Past and Future of Operations Research
Chapter 12: Advice to a Student

Memoirs and Autobiographies


Hess S. (2002) Reminiscences & Reflections: My first taste of OR. OR/MS Today, 29(5). (link)

Awards and Honors

Franz Edelman Laureate 1974

Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences Fellow 2002

Professional Service

The Institute of Management Sciences (TIMS), President 1976-1977 

Selected Publications

Hassmann F. & Hess S. W. (1950) A Linear Programming Approach to Production and Employment Scheduling. Management Technology, 1(1): 46-51.

Hess S. W. (1962) A dynamic programming approach to the R and D budgeting and project selection. IRE Transactions on Engineering Management, 9(4): 170-179.

Hess S. W., Siegfeldt, H. J., Weaver J. B., Whelan J. N., & Zitlau P. A. (1965) Nonpartisan political redistricting by computer. Operations Research,13(6): 998-1006.

Hess S. W. & Samuels S. A. (1971) Experiences with a Sales Districting Model: Criteria and Implementation. Management Science, 18(4): P-41 – P-54.

Hess S. W. (1993) Swinging on the branch of a tree: project selection applications. Interfaces, 23(6): 5-12.