George Nemhauser

July 27, 1937

Brief Biography

Nemhauser Presidential Gallery Portrait

George Lann Nemhauser was born and raised near Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, New York. Growing up, Nemhauser attended Yankee games and participated in youth baseball leagues that were run and organized by the kids that played in them. He stayed in town for college and completed his undergraduate education at the City College of New York. Nemhauser went on to graduate school at Northwestern University where he earned a PhD in Operations Research in 1961. His dissertation, “A Dynamic Programming Approach for Optimal Design and Operation of Multistage Systems in Process Industries”, laid the groundwork for the first of his four books, Introduction to Dynamic Programming (1966).

Nemhauser’s first academic position was at Johns Hopkins University. While there he taught many future OR pioneers such as Donald W. Hearn. Nemhauser was also a close advisor to John Malone on his graduate studies at Johns Hopkins. As chairman of Liberty Media and related companies,  Malone is perhaps the most financially successful of all Operations Research PhD graduates. Among Nemhauser's ten PhD students at Hopkins was Robert Garfinkel, with whom he co-authored Integer Programming (1972). Integer Programming provided a comprehensive treatment of the first two decades of the subject and rapidly became a popular textbook for graduate courses. In 1970 Nemhauser moved to Cornell University, where he eventually became Director of the School of Operations Research and Industrial Engineering. In 1977, he won the first of his two Lanchester Prizes, for a paper on locating bank accounts so as to optimize "float” that he wrote with Marshall L. Fisher and then-graduate student Gerard Cornuejols.

Nemhauser moved to Georgia Tech in 1985 where has been the A. Russell Chandler Chaired Institute Professor in Industrial and Systems Engineering ever since. As one of the foremost experts on discrete optimization, Nemhauser has been able to apply his talents to many scheduling applications. In addition to his work in help scheduling flight patterns for nearly all the major U.S. airlines (including Delta, American, and United), he has been able to employ scheduling to his love of sports. As a member of the Sports Scheduling Group, Nemhauser has been involved with the scheduling of Major League Baseball nearly every year since 2006. His paper on the scheduling of games for basketball conferences has been used on the American collegiate level and by many international sporting associations.

Nemhauser has won many honors in Operations Research, including a second Lanchester Prize, for his book with Laurence A. Wolsey, Integer Programming and Combinatorial Optimization (1988). His teaching has been recognized by the award of the Philip McCord Morse Lectureship, and his service to the INFORMS community by the George E. Kimball award.  He has made major contributions to both the theory and the practice of Operations Research. Nemhauser was awarded the Optimizations Society’s inaugural Khachiyan Prize in 2010. His lasting contributions to integer optimization were recognized by the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences which awarded Nemhauser and Wosley the John von Neumann Theory Prize in 2012. In 1986, Nemhauser and Pete Veinott, were the first individuals elected into the new operations research section of the National Academy of Engineering.

Other Biographies

Wikipedia Entry for George Nemhauser

Georgia Tech College of Engineering. School of Industrial and Systems Engineering: George L. Nemhauser, PhD. Accessed February 6, 2015. (link)

INFORMS. Miser-Harris Presidential Gallery: George L. Nemhauser. Accessed February 6, 2015. (link)

Georgia Tech H. Milton School of Industrial and Systems Engineering (2015) "From Shakespeare Ave in the Bronx to North Ave in the ATL" (link)


City College of New York, BChE 1958

Northwestern University, MS 1959

Northwestern University, PhD 1961 (Mathematics Genealogy)


Academic Affiliations
Non-Academic Affiliations

Key Interests in OR/MS

Application Areas

Oral Histories

George Nemhauser (2015) Interview by Irv Lustig, November 2, 2015.  

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: Introduction: Learning About Operations Research
Chapter 2: An Evolving Career
Chapter 3: Major Career Themes
Chapter 4: Applications
Chapter 5: Service to the Profession
Chapter 6: The Future
Chapter `: Criticism of Operations Research
Chapter 8: Motivating Students

George Nemhauser (2006) Interview by Abe J. Schear, October. Baseball Digest, Arnold Golden Gregory LLP. Atlanta, Georgia.  Transcript: 

Image Gallery and Slideshow