Industrial and Systems Engineering, Rutcor, DIMACS and Computer Science Joint Seminar

Title: OR in Homeland Security: Where We Are and Where We Need to Go

Speaker: Richard Larson, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Date: December 6, 2005 5:00 - 6:00 pm

Location: CoRE Bldg, Lecture Hall - 1st Floor, Rutgers University, Busch Campus, Piscataway, NJ


OR was born in WWII to assist in the deployment of scarce resources in the war effort. Now we face an equivalent national need in "homeland security,' preparedness and response to major crisis events caused by Mother Nature, industrial accidents and terrorism. The current set of useful problem formulations and models dates back at least to the 1960's, when the President's Commission on Law Enforcement and Administration of Justice brought OR models to the analysis of municipal police first responders, leading to national implementation of the emergency number 911. From much work over the following 40 years, we have a rich set of models and methods to build from, but -- as the response to Hurricane Katrina has shown --- much needs to be done, both in models and in implementation. We review this work and suggest, based on analyses of past major events, where there is likely to be the biggest payoff in years to come from additional OR research, development, test and implementation.

Refreshments will be served in the IE lounge area at 4:30 prior to the seminar.

Tel: 732-445-3654, Email:

Dr. Richard C. Larson

Richard C. Larson is Professor of Engineering Systems and of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is founding director of the recently created MIT Center for Engineering Systems Fundamentals. He received S.B., S.M., and Ph.D. degrees in Electrical Engineering from MIT.

Dr. Larson served as Co-Director of the MIT Operations Research Center for more than 15 years. The majority of Dr. Larson's career has focused on operations research as applied to services industries. He is author, co-author, or editor of six books, and author of over 75 scientific articles, primarily in the fields of technology-enabled education, urban service systems (especially emergency response systems), queuing, logistics, and workforce planning. Dr. Larson's research on queues has not only resulted in new computational techniques (e.g., the Queue Inference Engine and the Hypercube Queueing Model), but has also been covered extensively in national media (e.g., ABC TV's 20/20).His first book, Urban Police Patrol Analysis (MIT Press, 1972), was awarded the Lanchester Prize of the Operations Research Society of America (ORSA). He is co-author, with Amedeo Odoni, of Urban Operations Research (Prentice Hall, 1981).

From 1995 to mid-2003, Dr. Larson served as Founding Director of MIT's Center for Advanced Educational Services (CAES). His position focused on bringing technology-enabled learning to students living on the traditional campus and to those living and working far from the university, perhaps on different continents. During the years 1995-1999, he built the center from two to seven business units, encompassing MIT's production and R&D capabilities in educational technologies and its two major lifelong learning academic programs. His center produced the world's most ambitious point-to-point distance learning program, the Singapore MIT Alliance. Dr. Larson has been invited to give lectures on the future of technology-enabled education in testimony before the House Committee on Science (Washington, DC) and in North and South America, Asia, Africa, and Europe. He has served as Principal Investigator of several of MIT's most ambitious technology-enabled learning programs, including PIVoT - the web-based Physics Interactive Video Tutor, Masters' Voices (sponsored by the Ford Motor Company), MIT World, "Inventing the Global Classroom," "Good Clinical Practices," and "Fungal Infections" (the last two sponsored by the Pfizer Corporation). He is founding director of Learning International Networks Consortium (LINC), an MIT-based international e-learning project that he is building. See Dr. Larson also served as founding co-director of the Forum the Internet and the University, a not-for-profit organization affiliated with the Forum for the Future of Higher Education.

Dr. Larson served as President of ORSA (1993-1994), and is currently President of the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS). He was first listed in Who's Who in America in 1982. He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and an INFORMS Founding Fellow. He has been honored with the INFORMS President's Award and the Kimball Medal.