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Passings: Saul Gass, Pioneer in Operations Research

Mar 15, 2013
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Saul Gass

Professor Emeritus Saul Irving Gass passed away on March 17, 2013.

Gass, a pioneering researcher in the field of operations research, came to the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business as professor and chair of the department of management science and statistics in 1975. In addition to his towering achievements as a researcher, Gass was also an extraordinary teacher. He was honored by the university as a Distinguished Scholar-Teacher and was the Dean's Lifetime Achievement Professor for the Smith School.

“Saul Gass has been enormously influential in his field, but also in the Smith School and the University of Maryland. He embodied what it means to be a teacher, researcher, colleague and friend,” said Dean G. “Anand” Anandalingam.

Former Dean Rudy Lamone said, “One of the happiest days during my tenure as dean took place when Saul accepted my offer to come to the business school. In many ways Saul was a transformative leader, not only in developing an extraordinary OR faculty, but also as a personal mentor to me in my effort to build a first rank b-school.”

Gass began his career as a mathematician for the Aberdeen Bombing Mission, U. S. Air Force, and then transferred to Air Force headquarters. There he began to explore operations research with the Directorate of Management Analysis, the organization in which linear programming was first developed.

Gass’s many publications include the seminal text Linear Programming (fifth edition); Decision Making, Models and Algorithms, and the book An Illustrated Guide to Linear Programming. He was co-author ofAn Annotated Timeline of Operations Research: An Informal History. Together with Carl Harris, he edited the Encyclopedia of Operations Research and Management Science, which was published in 1996 (a third edition will be published shortly). He remained active late into his life as, with Arjang Assad, he edited, and wrote several contributions for Profiles in Operations Research, which was published in 2011.

Gass’ work made an impact in industry and on policy-makers as well as in the classroom. Throughout his career he worked with IBM as an Applied Science Representative, manager of the Project Mercury Man-in-Space Program, and manager of IBM's Federal Civil Programs; served as a member of the Science and Technology Task Force of the President's Commission on Law Enforcement; and was director of operations research for CEIR, senior vice-president of World Systems Laboratories, and vice-president of Mathematica. Gass served as a consultant to the U. S. General Accounting Office, Congressional Budget Office, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and other operations research and systems analysis organizations.

Gass remained active in leadership in his field through involvement in professional organizations. He was past president the Operations Research Society of America (ORSA) and Omega Rho, the international operations research honor society. He served as vice-president for international activities of the Institute of Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS), and vice-president of the International Federation of Operational Research Societies (IFORS). He received ORSA's Kimball Medal for distinguished service to the society and the profession, INFORMS's Expository Writing Award for publications in operations research that have set an exemplary standard of exposition, and the Military Operations Research Society's Jacinto Steinhardt Memorial Award for outstanding contributions to military operations research.

His expertise was respected around the world. Gass was a Fulbright Research Scholar at the Computer and Automation Research Institution, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, and a Fulbright Senior Specialist who taught in Taiwan, New Zealand, Chile, Spain, and Japan.

Gass is survived by his wife, Trudy, his son, Ron, his daughter, Joyce, and his granddaughter, Arianna. Services will be held on Temple Shalom in Chevy Chase, Md., at 10 a.m. on Thursday, March 21. Donations can be made to the American Cancer Society.

About the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business 

The Robert H. Smith School of Business is an internationally recognized leader in management education and research. One of 12 colleges and schools at the University of Maryland, College Park, the Smith School offers undergraduate, full-time and part-time MBA, executive MBA, online MBA, MS in business, PhD and executive education programs, as well as outreach services to the corporate community. The school offers its degree, custom and certification programs in learning locations in North America and Asia.