Philip M. Morse

ORSA Founding President, 1952

Widely considered to be the father of operations research in the U.S., Dr. Morse organized the Anti-Submarine Warfare Operations Research Group (ASWORG), later ORG, for the U.S. Navy early in 1942. "That Morse’s group was an important factor in winning the war is fairly obvious to everyone who knows anything about the inside of the war," wrote historian John Burchard. Dr. Morse co-authored Methods of Operations Research, the first OR textbook in the U.S., with George Kimball based on the Navy work. His continuing interest in military OR led him to propose the formation of the Weapons Systems Evaluation Group (WSEG) in 1949, a group that he led as its first chief civilian.

Dr. Morse’s life overflowed with contributions to the development of OR. He was a prime mover behind the creation of ORSA in 1952. He launched MIT’s Operations Research Center in 1956, directing it until 1968, and awarding the first Ph.D. in OR in the U.S. (to John D.C. Little). Dr. Morse gave the opening address at the 1957 organizing meeting of the International Federation of Operational Research Societies (IFORS). In 1959 he chaired the first NATO advisory panel on OR. His writings include the influential books Queues, Inventories, and Maintenance and Library Effectiveness. He received ORSA’s Lanchester Prize in 1968 for the latter book.

In 1974, Professor Morse was honored with the first Kimball Award in recognition of distinguished service to ORSA and to the profession of operations research and the management sciences. The text of the citation is given below.

Dr. Morse has also conducted distinguished careers in physics and in scientific administration. Examples of his contributions in physics are the textbooks Quantum Mechanics (with Condon), Methods of Theoretical Physics (with Feshbach), Vibration and Sound, Theoretical Acoustics, and Thermal Physics. His administrative talents were applied in roles as co-founder of the MIT Acoustics Laboratory, first director of the Brookhaven National Laboratory, founder and first director of the MIT Computation Center, and board member of the RAND Corporation and the Institute for Defense Analyses. He chaired the advisory committee that supervised preparation of Handbook of Mathematical Functions, with Formulas, Graphs, and Mathematical Tables. In addition, he served as president of the American Physical Society, president of the Acoustical Society of America, and board chair of the American Institute of Physics.

Professor Morse was a member of the MIT faculty from 1930 to 1969. He died in 1985.

B.S. (Applied Physics), 1926, Case Institute; PhD (Physics), 1929, Princeton University.

Philip M. Morse's Awards