Thomas M. Cook

INFORMS President, 2003; TIMS President, 1990-1991

Thomas M. Cook’s distinguished career as a practitioner and a consultant in aviation is complimented by his extraordinary service to the profession. He was the 9th President of INFORMS, the 37th President of the Institute of Management Sciences, and is a former President of the Airline Group of the International Federation of Operations Research Societies, (AGIFORS). He is one of a very small group who has been President of both INFORMS and one of its predecessor societies. While INFORMS President, he initiated and led The Science of Better, the campaign to make the O.R. field better understood by its constituencies.

 Early in his career, Dr. Cook developed large information systems at Ling, Temco, Vought. He taught at The University of Tulsa, The University of Texas at Austin, and Boston University in operations research, statistics, and computer science. He is the coauthor of two books and the author of numerous journal articles.

The major portion of Tom Cook’s career was spent at American Airlines. Here, he took a small group of OR specialists and continually expanded it until it became a major division of the airline, and was spun off as the legendary SABRE. SABRE for many years contained the largest OR group in the world. After leaving SABRE, he joined McKinsey and later became CEO of two OR based firms, CALEB and TCI. His teams at American Airlines, SABRE, and Caleb have won the ORSA prize, and 3 Edelman awards.

Dr. Cook was inducted into The National Academy of Engineering in 1995. He was cited for his "leadership in advancing operations research and decision-support technologies within the transportation industry." He became a Fellow of INFORMS in 2002 and was awarded the Kimball Medal in 2007.

Initiating and nurturing The Science of Better concept is one of Dr. Cook’s major achievements for INFORMS. As a long-time practitioner, he recognized that O.R.’s unique problem-solving capabilities were little known or appreciated and hence under- utilized in business. To reverse these trends, Dr. Cook proposed to identify and implement changes to existing INFORMS programs that would increase the impact of the discipline by creating demand. To unlock the latent demand for Operations Research, he worked with the Board of Directors and a select committee to obtain the necessary funds and to initiate and manage The Science of Better information campaign.

Tom Cook served the Society in many capacities. He was associate editor of Operations Research, Transportation Science, and Interfaces. He was co-founder of the Academic Practitioner Committee and founding chair of the Marketing the Profession Committee. He has been a member of the Awards and Recognition Committee, Education Committee, the Edelman Prize Gala Committee, and several Nominating Committees among others. He has spoken extensively, both inside and outside the profession, on the importance and value of the field.

 BA (Mathematics), 1962, Grinnell College, MBA, 1970, Southern Methodist University, PhD (Operations Research) The University of Texas at Austin, 1972.

Thomas M. Cook's Awards