Richard C. Larson


Brief Biography

Larson Speaker Portrait

Richard Larson was the forty-second president of the Operations Research Society of America (ORSA) and eleventh president of the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS). Larson received all three of his degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He joined the MIT faculty after receiving his PhD in 1969 and has remained with the university since.

Larson’s research has largely focused on the application of operations research to urban emergency systems. One of his first papers was co-authored with Alfred Blumstein and dealt with models of a total criminal justice system. Three years later, Larson published Urban Police Patrol Analysis (1972). The book described the application of operations research methods to the problems of planning and operating police patrols. The techniques in the publication were lauded for being applicable to a variety of other emergency services. It stands out in its successful attempts to address the communities of police administration and operations research analysis. Larson was awarded the Frederick W. Lanchester Prize that year, making his one of the youngest individuals to ever receive the honor.

In 1981, he and fellow MIT professor Amedeo R. Odoni co-authored a book on urban operations research. The primary purpose of the text was to provide methods in assisting decision making in urban services. The book incorporates methods in queueing theory and network applications. 

From 1995 to 2003, Larson served as Director of the Center for Advanced Educational Services at MIT. As director, he focused on bringing technology-enable learning to students living on the traditional campus and to those living and working far from the university. Early in his tenure, he expanded the center’s research and development capabilities and established a number of global partnerships, including the Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology.

In addition to his presidencies, Larson has held a number of other positions with ORSA and INFORMS. He served as Chair of the Philip M. Morse Lectureship Selection Committee (an honor which he himself received 1997), the Public Information Committee, and the Lanchester Prize Committees, as well as being an Area Editor for Operations Research and Interfaces and member of the INFORMS Board of Directors. As the second-to-last president of ORSA, Larson oversaw the approval by the OR/MS Board of the merger of his organization with The Institute of Management Sciences. In 2002 he was awarded the George E. Kimball Medal for dedicated service to OR societies and was named an inaugural Fellow of INFORMS. The following year, he was awarded the INFORMS President’s Award for his excellence in research, teaching innovation, and the practical application of operations research,

As an educator, consultant, and administration, Larson has been an eloquent and respected spokesperson for operations research. He is often quoted by the national press and his work has been the subject of major network TV news. Larson continues to play a significant role in spreading the message of operations research across the globe via the media and his outreach activities on the behalf of INFORMS. 

Other Biographies

INFORMS. Miser-Harris Presidential Gallery: Richard C. Larson. Accessed May 10, 2015. (link

INFORMS Connect with People. Speakers Program: Richard C. Larson. Accessed May 10, 2015. (link

Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The Education Groups: Dr. Richard C. Larson. Accessed May 10, 2015. (link

Massachusetts Institute of Technology Engineering Systems Division. ESD Faculty & Teaching Staff: Richard Larson. Accessed May 10, 2015. (link


Massachusetts Institute of Technology, SB 1965

Massachusetts Institute of Technology, SM 1967

Massachusetts Institute of Technology, PhD 1969


Academic Affiliations
Non-Academic Affiliations
  • American Airlines
  • Learning International Networks Consortium 
  • National Institute of Justice

Key Interests in OR/MS

Application Areas
  • Service Industries

Oral Histories

Dick Larson (2016). Interview by Ed Kaplan, November 14, 2016, Nashville, Tennessee.

NOTE: The video chapter transcripts 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: Early Life
Chapter 2: MIT Undergraduate and Graduate Years
Chapter 3: Grand Theft Larceny and Urban Operations Research
Chapter 4: Applications in Policing
Chapter 5: Applications to Other Urban Services
Chapter 6: Hypercube Queueing Model
Chapter 7: Queueing Theory
Chapter 8: Perspectives on Operations Research
Chapter 9: Education Initiatives
Chapter 10: MIT's Institute for Data, Systems and Society
Chapter 11: Legacy

Richard Larson (2010) Interview by Lawrence Gallagher, September 2010. The MIT 150 Infinite Oral History Project. (video)

Memoirs and Autobiographies


Richard C. Larson Curriculum Vitae

Awards and Honors

Frederick W. Lanchester Prize 1972

National Academy of Engineering Member 1993

Philip McMord Morse Lectureship Award 1997

George E. Kimball Medal 2002

Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences Fellow 2002

INFORMS President's Award 2003

Harold Larnder Prize 2004

Professional Service

Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS), President 2005

INFORMS Public Information Committee, Chair 1997-1999

Operations Research Society of America, President 1993-1994

Selected Publications

Blumstein A. & Larson R. C. (1969) Models of a total criminal justice system. Operations Research, 17(2): 99-232. 

Larson R. C. (1972) Urban Police Patrol Analysis. MIT Press: Cambridge, MA. 

Larson R. C. (1974) A hypercube queueing modeling for facility location and redistricting in urban emergency services. Journal of Computers and Operations Research, 1(1): 67-95.

Larson R. C. & Willemain T. R.,eds. (1977) Emergency Medical Systems Analysis. Lexington Books: Lexington, MA. 

Larson R. C., ed. (1978) Police Deployment: New Tools for Planners. Lexington Books: Lexington, MA. 

Larson R. C. & Odoni A. R. (1981) Urban Operations Research. Prentice-Hall: Englewoord Cliffs, NJ. 

Larson R. C. (1987) Perspectives on queues: social justice and the psychology of queueing. Operations Research, 35(6): 895-905.

Katz K. L., Larson B. M., & Larson R. C. (1991) Prescription for the Waiting-in-Line blues: entertain, enlighten, and engage. Sloan Management Review, 32(2): 44-53. 

Larson R. C. & Magnanti T., eds. (1994) Reminiscences of the Operations Research Center 1953-1993. MIT OR Center Publications: Cambridge, MA. 

Larson R. C. (2005) Decision model for emergency response planning. Kamien D., ed. in The McGraw-Hill Handbook of Homeland Security. McGraw Hill: New York. 

Larson R. C. & Murray M. E. (2008) Distance learning as a tool for poverty reduction and economic development: a focus on China and Mexico. Journal of Science Education and Technology, 17(2): 175-196.

Hird M., Larson R. C., Okubo Y., Uchino K. (2014) Lesson study and lesson sharing: an appealing marriage. Creative Education, 5: 769-779.

Additional Resources

Horner P. (2004) The science of better strategy: Q&A with Richard Larson. OR/MS Today, 31(6). (link)