Georges Brigham

Georges Brigham

Past Awards

Frederick W. Lanchester Prize: Winner(s)

The 1955 Lanchester Prize goes to a paper by Georges Brigham, "On a Congestion Problem in an Aircraft Factory," which appeared on p. 412 of the November 1955 issue of Operations Research.

His acceptance speech was as follows:

  • To receive the Lanchester Prize is, in the personal sense, a verification of one's work. I have been studying and working in operations research for the last two or three years and have had the opportunity to investigate a variety of problems. However, I have been pretty much on my own except for occasional discussions with Dr. Gaskell, who encouraged me to work in this field, and with one or two other mathematicians; my only outside contacts with operations research have been the meetings and the literature. What I needed was some independent check on what I was doing.
  • When I was working on the problem which was described in my paper, one of the things I needed to derive was the distribution of the waiting times of the clerks. After several attempts, I found what I believed was the correct distribution. At this point I wanted to test its correctness. By comparing its mean, a very simple expression which can be derived independently, and by considering an extreme case which is equivalent to one derived many years ago by A. K. Erlang, I could check that I was on the right track. Similarly, when I received Dr. Brothers' announcement, I felt that perhaps I am on the right track in my work.
  • I felt many other things too--all very hard to express adequately: pleasure and pride at receiving such an honor, wonder at my being the one to receive it. Certainly I felt some unworthiness, for I am sure there must be some better qualified than I, but who for a variety of reasons beyond their control were not eligible this time. I wish that I could share this experience with them, and hope that somehow they can derive some pleasure and encouragement from my good fortune.
  • Beyond and above this personal aspect, the Johns Hopkins Lanchester Prize is a high honor established to encourage the development of the profession--not merely to reward one man. A man's knowledge, his ability, the opportunity, help, and encouragement given him, all come more or less from sources outside himself. It would be presumptuous for him to claim the prize as an exclusive achievement. I owe a great deal to the profession of operations research and to the people around me for winning this prize. I receive it with this in mind, deeply grateful for the honor bestowed on me and keenly aware of the responsibility that goes with it. I shall do my utmost to be worthy of the one and to fulfill the other.