Leslie C. Edie

November 21, 1914 – October 13, 1990

Brief Biography

Edie Presidential Gallery Photo

Leslie C. Edie, the twenty-first president of the Operations Research Society of America (ORSA), was born in Kansas City, Missouri. He studied electrical engineering at the University of Kansas before beginning a sixteen year career in telecommunications. Working first for Western Union Telegraph from 1936 to 1946, Edie often prided himself as one of the few people he knew who had personally used and could expertly operate a Morse code telegraph transmitter. He joined the International Telephone and Telegraph Company before leaving in 1952 to accept a position at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. Edie remained with the Port Authority until his retirement in 1976.

Edie was an early pioneer in bringing operations research to transportation science and pushed for the serious inclusion of transportation in ORSA’s areas of focus. He was subsequently a founding member of the Transportation Science Section (TSS) of ORSA and served as its second chairman. The successful framework he developed for the TSS became the model for all other ORSA sections created over the years. Edie was part of the team that created the society’s first topical journal, Transportation Science, and served on the ORSA council for a number of years before becoming president.

Edie saw himself as fulfilling the task of the “compleat engineer [sic],” leaving this world better than he found it. With the Port Authority, he oversaw the construction of the third tube of the Lincoln Tunnel linking New York City and New Jersey and the design of the George Washington Bridge's lower deck. On his own initiative, Edie conducted a masterfully executed study on the operation of toll gates at the Lincoln Tunnel. He found out that the maximum number of toll gates for efficient entry and exit was three, discovering that any number of toll gates above three causes motorist confusion. In later years, this concept was popularized as “Edie’s Number”.

In 1954 ORSA established the Frederick W. Lanchester Prize for the best English paper on Operations Research. The inaugural prize, jointly sponsored by Johns Hopkins University, was given to Edie for his paper, “Traffic Delays at Toll Booths” (Journal of the Operations Research Society of America) – the very article that first introduced the ideal toll gate number. At the Thirty-Seventh Annual Meetings of the Highway Research Board, he and R. S. Foote presented an influential paper on traffic flow in tunnels. 

In later life, Edie made modeling developments in generalized traffic streams and designed measurement methodologies. Though he officially retired in 1976, Edie soon found himself employed by the Council of Productivity for the Florida Department of Transportation before working as a scientific research volunteer at the Arthritic Research Institute of America. His final research contributions involved the creation of a methodology for calculated weight standards and body mass indices. 

Other Biographies

INFORMS. Miser-Harris Presidential Gallery: Leslie C. Edie. Accessed March 18, 2015. (link


University of Kansas, BS 1936


Academic Affiliations
Non-Academic Affiliations
  • Arthritic Institute of America
  • Florida Department of Transportation
  • International Telephone and Telegraph Company
  • Port Authority of New York and New Jersey
  • Western Union Telegraph Company

Key Interests in OR/MS

Application Areas


Gazis D. C. & Herman R. (1991) In Memoriam—Leslie C. Edie, 1914–1990. Transportation Science, 25(1):1-2. (link)

Awards and Honors

Frederick Lanchester Prize 1954

Professional Service

Operations Research Society of America, President 1972

Selected Publications

Edie L. C. (1954) Traffic delays at toll booths. Journal of the Operations Research Society of America, 2(2): 107-138.

Edie L. C. (1957) Operations Research in a Public Corporation. Operations Research, 5(1): 111-122.

Edie L. C. & Foote R. S. (1958) Traffic Flow in Tunnels. Burggraf F., Orland H. P., & Ward E. M., eds. in Proceedings of the Thirty-Seventh Annual Meetings of the Highway Research Board, 334-344. Highway Research Board: Washington D. C.

Edie L. C. (1961) Car-following and steady-state theory for noncongested traffic. Operations Research, 9(1): 66-76.

Edie L. C. (1963) Discussion of Traffic Stream Measurements and Definitions. Port of New York Authority: New York.

Edie L. C. (1974) Traffic Science. Gazis D. C., ed. in Traffic Theories. John Wiley & Sons: New York. 

Additional Resources

Edie L. C. (1955) Letter to the Editor—Lanchester Prize Acceptance Speech. Journal of the Operations Research Society of America, 3(4):545-546.(link)