IEOR - Designing a More Efficient World



The Industrial Engineering and Operations Research Department at UC Berkeley is the only IEOR department within the UC system, and was ranked second in the nation by the US News and World Report in 2009.  The department has a rich history and has been home to many of the leaders of the field, including George Dantzig, Richard E. Barlow, Richard Karp, and Christos Papadimitriou.  Today, the department offers undergraduate and graduate programs that incorporate diverse areas of research.  The IEOR department has continued to evolve and grow since its inception in 1956.

Industrial Engineering and Operations Research have played an important role during pivotal moments in history.  Industrial engineering allows organizations to study how people work, and how to optimize processes so they can do this work more effectively.  Industrial engineering was being taught in universities by the late 1800s, after the industrial revolution, and industrial engineering had applications in improving efficiencies in factories.  One of the first applications of industrial engineering was an interest in the problem of fatigue in factory workers.  In 1906, Frederick Taylor studied the optimum time and rest breaks necessary for workers to recover that would create the most productivity in the long run.  This was a truly revolutionary way of thinking about work.  Operations research was largely developed during World War II, when the British and US governments sponsored “operational research” to optimize their military operations.  This research allowed strategists to improve the effectiveness of their strategies, for example by observing and marking the locations of enemy planes in map rooms at headquarters to determine the best positioning to counter the threat.

The Berkeley IEOR department history began in 1954 when a Division of Industrial Engineering was established in the Mechanical Engineering department. In1956, four young professors, E. Paul DeGarmo, James Lapsley, Raymond Grassi, and Edward Chester Keachie, formed what was then called the Department of Industrial Engineering.  Paul DeGarmo is remembered for leading the initiative to make Industrial Engineering its own department.  Initially the department offered only a professional bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering. A year or two later, a professional master’s degree program was added.  Paul DeGarmo had joined the faculty at UC Berkely in 1937 and, following World War II, was commissioned by the U. S. Navy and the Welding Research Council to improve production of “Victory” cargo ships so that they could withstand the high seas, at which he succeeded.  In the newly formed Industrial Engineering department, DeGarmo focused on engineering economics and was known to students as “Mr. E120” for popularizing the Engineering Economics course (In Memoriam, 2000.)

Each of the originators of the department helped to shape its beginnings. Edward Chester “Chet” Keachie was known for taking a humanistic angle in all of his research.  He was known for his realistic, common-sense approach in his research of human performance and industrial efficiency.  According to In Memoriam (1980), one of his most notable areas of research was the “phenomenon of manufacturing cost reduction through the so-called learning-curve” and became known as the “pioneer” of this area.  Raymond Grassi

conducted research and courses in facilities planning, materials handling, production systems, and  manufacturing engineering. In 1945, he took charge of UC Berkeley’s production laboratories and undertook mechanical-metallurgical research for General Electric Corporation, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and the Office of Naval Research.

James Lapsley was also extremely dedicated to the department and to his students for years afterwards.  He went on to become the Dean of Engineering in the 1970s.

Alan Gradwohl, from the class of 1958, recalls his research during the 1950s at the Richmond Field Station.  He describes these buildings as a sprawling set of low buildings that looked a lot like barracks near the Golden Gate Fields race track.  He recalls being assigned to work there as the Cold War was in play and he worked on issues of civil defense, which involved surveying industrial buildings in the East Bay, and estimating the weight of machines and stored raw materials with the idea was that these buildings might act as nuclear fallout shelters, with the density of the contents attenuating the effects of radiation.  Another project during 1957-1958, which involved Atomic Energy Commission clearance, involved computer simulation of the progress of nuclear fallout.  They took prevailing winds at various altitudes to see where the fallout would land on the map.  Another computer project involved a simulation to evaluate high speed exit taxiways at airports.  He notes that the Richmond Field Station was a great place to work because it paid a fair wage to a graduate student and it was a good place to meet other students and faculty.

Ronald Shephard, a famous production economist and Berkeley PhD, became chair of the department in 1959 and added instruction in the new field of Operations Research to the department, and to add PhD-level instruction and research.  According to In Memoriam (1988), growing up in the Depression era “shaped his character by making him strongly independent, and fiercely critical of people, views, and attitudes which he considered to be based on false pretensions.”  As a freshman at UC Berkeley, his mathematical ability gained the attention of his professors, though he had to leave the school for a semester one year because he could not afford the $25 registration fee.  His real world experience helped him become a strong leader in chairing the department twice, and serving as Director of the Operations Research Center.  He later became internationally known for his pioneering work in production theory.

One of Shephard’s first hires in the 1960s was his Berkeley classmate, George Dantzig, a Statistics PhD from Berkeley.  The story of Dantzig’s first breakthrough at UC Berkeley reached legendary status and inspired a scene in the movie Good Will Hunting.  While he was a graduate student at UCB, he arrived late to Jerzy Neyman’s statistics class and saw two problems written on the board.  Assuming that they were the homework assignment, he took them home and solved them, only to discover later that these were two famous previously unsolved problems.  Dantzig later became known as one of the forefathers of IEOR and was a National Medal of Science recipient, and was the first to formulate linear programming models and investigate their mathematical properties.  This led to his development of the Simplex Method, a contribution that helped create the field of mathematical optimization as one of the most important areas of operations research.

The department was originally housed in the “T” wooden buildings located between McLaughlin Hall and the Main Library. These buildings were built during World War II.  In 1964, the department moved into its current home on the fourth floor of the newly constructed Etcheverry Hall where it resides today.  The painted doors on the fourth floor of the building were originally all painted an army green color, and in the mid 1970s were being painted multi-colored.  When the painters got to Ronald Shephard’s door, he refused to let them paint it, proclaiming that they were not going to spend the money to paint his door while there was not enough money for the students.  For year afterwards, his door could be spotted as the sole army green door down the brightly colored hallway.  There is currently a conference room in his honor called the Shephard Room in room 3117 of Etcheverry.

During the 1960s the department grew rapidly as many renowned operations research scholars were hired.  A graduate program in operations research was added during the ‘60s, and on July 1, 1966, the department’s name was officially changed to the Department of Industrial Engineering and Operations Research.  One of these hires was Sheldon Ross, who is one of the world's leading experts in applied probability, simulation and financial engineering.  Another was William Jewell, an internationally recognized expert in the field of risk analysis.  Robert Oliver, another of these hires, taught courses in forecasting, prediction and decision-making models.  He went on to become Chairman of the Department of Industrial Engineering and Operations Research 1964-1969, Director of the Operations Research Center 1972-1975 and Associate Dean for Research in the College of Engineering.  Richard Karp’s research has made breakthrough developments in the area of combinatorial algorithms.  The new faculty during this time also included Richard Barlow, Edward Crossman, Roger Glassey, David Gale, Stuart Dreyfus, Ronald Wolff, and Ilan Adler.

Richard Barlow was hired for his expertise in reliability, a topic that was largely unexplored at the time.  Barlow was one of the founders of Reliability Theory, which he described in an interview with Henry W. Block as “a red hot topic” in the 1970s because of the rocket failures, and Barlow was dubbed “the majordomo in reliability.” (Block, “A Conversation with Richard Barlow.”)

Edward (“Ted”) Crossman joined the department in 1964 to lead PhD research in the industrial engineering sub-field of Ergonomics, in which he was a pioneer.  He moved from England to join UC Berkeley, causing a quite a stir internationally, since his brother was a member of parliament and England at the time was concerned about the “brain drain” of their intellectuals to American universities.  He established both a Digital Simulation Laboratory and a Human Engineering Laboratory.  Crossman was very concerned with student issues and served as chair of the IEOR department in 1969, but stepped down after a year as a statement against the University's handling of student demonstrations (In Memoriam, 1980.)

Roger Glassey, who is now a Professor Emeritus, joined IEOR faculty in 1965 as an expert in applications of mathematical optimization, and production planning and scheduling in the semiconductor industry.  His robotics courses are still popular today.  Glassey explains that his interest in programming began “when [he] punched [his] first deck of program cards in the earliest days of computing” (COE, Lab Notes).   His course today motivates students to challenge themselves through Lego robot competitions; Pescovitz summarizes: “Basically, they… learn to suck it up when their robots crash-and-burn and return enthusiastically to the drawing board.”

David Gale joined Berkeley in 1966 and held appointments in the departments of IEOR, Mathematics, and Economics.  His work was instrumental to the development of game theory, and linear and non-linear programming.  Gale’s unorthodox but influential research paper describes an “algorithmic procedure to find… a stable marriage.”  Their findings from this paper have been expanded and used to match students to schools (In Memoriam, 2008.)

In 1984, William Jewell initiated the reorganization of the Operations Research Center into the Engineering Systems Research Center (ESRC).  The reorganization allowed for better collaboration among engineering departments.  The ESRC included researchers from mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, computer sciences, business, public health along with industrial engineering and operations research. At that time, Jewell announced: "The center gives researchers from many fields a home where they can interact and work together" (UC Newsroom, February 3, 2003.)

Berkeley’s department of IEOR bridges the gap between Industrial Engineering and Operations Research.  Where in the past there had been a divide between the two disciplines (one professional and one mathematical), the faculty in today’s department generally have a strong background in both areas.  The Industrial Engineering profession involves the design, organization, implementation, and economic operation of integrated production and service systems using people, materials, and equipment.  Operations Research emphasizes the basic understanding of the functioning of complex systems of technology and management through mathematical models for the purpose of predicting system behavior or optimizing system performance under economic and technological constraints.  In short, industrial engineering concerns systems-level engineering problems while operations research concerns the mathematical techniques useful for entire-systems-level analysis.  Operations Research has flourished with advances in computing. What took Dantzig and his contemporaries two days to calculate we can now accomplish in seconds with the help of contemporary microprocessors.

Today, the IEOR department offers an undergraduate program with a BS degree in IEOR and an IEOR minor within the College of Engineering.  A BA for Letters and Sciences majors in Operations Research and Management Science (ORMS) was established in July 2004.  In the ORMS major, students develop solid quantitative model-building and problem-solving skills through core courses in math, statistics, and OR, and learn to apply these skills in solving problems in engineering areas of their choice.  Courses within IEOR are very popular and many of the courses, such as Linear Programming, Decision Analysis and Engineering Economics, are regularly taken by students from other departments.

Berkeley’s IEOR graduate program offers MS and PhD degrees in programs of study that emphasize theory and application of applied mathematics, statistics and economics to the analysis and solution of systems-level engineering problems. Half of our graduates of the PhD program go into academia, with the balance primarily working for high-technology manufacturing, consulting, and software firms. MS graduates typically work for the same sort of firms.

In Fall 2005, the IEOR Department and the College of Engineering launched the Center for Entrepreneurship & Technology <> (CET). Through teaching, programs, and research, the CET equips engineers and scientists with the skills to lead, innovate, and commercialize technology in the global economy. The CET classes within IEOR are always oversubscribed, and CET programs, including the Global Venture Lab <>, have produced several successful start-up companies.

UC Berkeley’s IEOR department plays an important role in California’s established and emerging industries such as biotechnology and robotics.  The IEOR faculty conducts research and courses on the mathematical foundations operations research, including areas such as linear programming, integer programming and polyhedral theory, graphs and combinatorial optimization, network flows, nonlinear optimization, and dynamic programming.  The financial engineering activities in the department are naturally expanding into the emerging area of revenue management and pricing.  Examples of this include fare structure design in airlines, pricing of hotel room and pricing of car rentals.  Dynamic pricing, such as incorporating online demand data and supply side contingencies for services is also another growing research area.  The field of IEOR is expanding its applications in a large variety of disciplines.


  • 1954 - Division of Industrial Engineering Established
  • 1956 - Department of Industrial Engineering Established
  • 1957 - DeGarmo publishes Materials and Processes in Manufacturing
  • 1957 - Cold War Research
  • 1959 - Professor Ronald W. Shephard is new chair
  • 1960 - George Dantzig joins the IEOR faculty
  • 1964 - Professor Robert M. Oliver is new chair
  • 1964 - The department moves to its permanent home at Etcheverry Hall
  • 1964 - Before self-driving cars
  • 1965 - Roger Glassey joins IEOR
  • 1966 - The name of the department is changed to the Department of Industrial Engineering and Operations Research
  • 1966 - Renowned mathematician and economist David Gale joins the department
  • 1969 - Professor Ted Crossman resigns chairmanship in solidarity with protesters
  • 1972 - Professor Richard M. Karp publishes landmark paper in complexity theory
  • 1975 - George Dantzig Wins National Medal of Science
  • 1979 - Rob Leachman joins IEOR
  • 1980 - David Gale awarded John von Neumann Theory Prize
  • 1985 - Richard Karp wins Turing Award
  • 1991 - Professor Richard E. Barlow is awarded the John von Neumann Theory Prize
  • 1992 - Professor Richard M. Karp is inducted into NAE
  • 1995 - Rob Leachman wins Franz Edelman award
  • 1995 - Ken Goldberg joins the IEOR faculty
  • 2004 - The department establishes a new B.A. degree called Operations Research and Management Sciences
  • 2005 - The IEOR department and the College of Engineering launch the Center for Entrepreneurship & Technology
  • 2006 - Professor Robert M. Oliver is elected to the National Academy of Engineering
  • 2010 - The Master of Engineering program enrolls its first students
  • 2011 - Professor Phil Kaminsky is named new chair of IEOR
  • 2014 - The IEOR department becomes the academic home for the Sutardja Center for Entrepreneurship & Technology
  • 2016 Shmuel Oren is inducted into the NAE
  • 2017 - Professor Ken Goldberg is named the new chair for IEOR
  • 2019 - The Department opens the George B. Dantzig Auditorium in honor of GBD.
  • 2019 - Professor Max Shen is named the new chair for IEOR

Faculty Roster and Date of Appointment

E. Paul DeGarmo, 1954
Raymond Grassi, 1954
Edward Chester Keachie, 1954
James Lapsley, 1954
Ronald W. Shephard, 1957
George Dantzig, 1960
William Jewell, 1960
Robert Oliver, 1960
Richard Barlow, 1963
Ronald W. Wolff, 1963
Edward Crossman, 1964
Roger Glassey, 1965
Gordon Newell, 1965
David Gale, 1966
Stuart Dreyfus, 1968
Richard Karp, 1968
Sheldon Ross, 1968
Ilan Adler, 1970
Robert Leachman, 1979
Shmuel S. Oren, 1982

Dorit Hochbaum, 1987
J. George Shanthikumar, 1993
Candace Yano, 1993
Ken Goldberg, 1995
Philip M. Kaminsky, 1997
Alper Atamturk, 1998
Lee W. Schruben, 1999
Rhonda Righter, 2003
Zuo-Jun "Max" Shen, 2004
Ikhlaq Sidhu, 2005
Xin Guo, 2006
Lee Fleming, 2012
Anil Aswani, 2013
Javad Lavaei, 2015
Paul Grigas, 2016
Zeyu Zheng, 2018
Barna Saha, 2019
Rajan Udwani, 2020
Daniel Pirutinsky, 2020