Bernard O. Koopman

ORSA President, 1957

Bernard O. Koopman was the 6th President of ORSA and a founding member of the Society. He was a featured speaker at the society's initial meeting in 1952. He was awarded the Kimball Medal in 1980 in recognition of his dedicated service to the O.R. profession. His special interest in military O.R. earned him the 1979 Wander Award of the Military Operations Research Society.

Dr. Koopman's career in O.R. began in 1943 when Philip Morse invited him to join the Operations Research Group of the U.S. Navy in Washington. His now-famous work on search and screening began at ORG, and led to the publication of his work by the Navy in 1946. The publication of Search and Screening by Persimmon Press in 1980 marked Dr. Koopman’s lifelong interest in this area.

Dr. Koopman spent his entire professional career as a member of its faculty of mathematics. He was appointed to the prestigious Adrian professorship in 1955, and served as department chair from 1951-56. Dr. Koopman returned to Columbia as a full professor after World War II. As an active O.R. consultant, he had long and fruitful associations with the Center for Naval Analyses, Institute for Defense Analyses (IDA), and A.D. Little, Inc.

He spent the 1956-57 and 1964-65 academic years on leave from Columbia working at the Institute for Defense Analysis (IDA). During his 1959-61 sojourn in London, he was the O.R. liaison between the U.S. Department of Defense, the U.K. military establishment, and NATO.

Initially, he focused on dynamics and mathematical physics, completing his dissertation in dynamics under George Birkhoff. Later, especially as the result of travels to Europe, he developed an interest in probability theory. He began his teaching career as a Benjamin Pierce Instructor at Harvard, and spent a postdoctoral year at Princeton before returning to Columbia.

Dr. Koopman spent his youth in France and Italy. His family emigrated to the United States in 1915 and settled in New England.

He died in 1981.

BS (mathematics), 1922, Harvard; PhD, (Mathematics), 1926, Columbia

Bernard O. Koopman's Awards