Marshall L. Fisher

Brief Biography

Fisher Presidential Gallery Portrait

Marshall Lee Fisher is a Franz Edelman Laureate and recipient of the Frederick W. Lanchester Prize and George E. Kimball Medal. Fisher received all three of his degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, completing his PhD dissertation on an optimal solution of resource constrained network scheduling problems. Prior to pursuing operations research and the management sciences on the graduate level, he spent a year at IBM as a computer systems engineering. Fisher’s first postdoctoral position was at the University of Chicago where he taught as Assistant Professor of Management Science prior to joining the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania.

In 1977, Fisher co-authored an article on the location of bank accounts to optimize float with George L. Nemhauser. This analytic study of exact and approximate algorithms, considered one of the most influential papers ever published in Operations Research, was jointly awarded that year’s Frederick W. Lanchester Prize for best publication in operations research. The paper was recognized as the first major application of probabilistic analysis to a combinatorial optimization problem. Nemhauser and Fisher developed the necessary ideas for this analysis and applied them to a partitioning technique for solving the traveling salesman problem. The following year, 1978, the duo wrote an influential article on an analysis for maximizing submodular set functions with Laurence A. Wolsey.

Fisher’s work began to move away from combinatorial optimization and focused on supply chain management. In the early 1980s, Fisher was part of a partnership formed between Air Products and Chemicals, Inc, and the University of Pennsylvania. This team improved the distribution of the company’s industrial gases with an on-line computerized routing and scheduling optimizer that dealt with the inventory management of industrial gasses at customer locations. The project won the top prize of the 1983 Franz Edelman Award competition for Achievement in Operations Research and the Management Sciences. The following year, he co-authored an awarded winning paper with frequent collaborator and former PhD student Ramchandran Jaikumar on computing in transportation.

Fisher was named an inaugural Fellow of the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences in 2002 and three years later was awarded the Philip McCord Morse Lectureship of the society. He received the George E. Kimball Medal for dedicated service to the professional OR/MS community. This dedication has included service as the thirty-third President of The Institute of Management Sciences (TIMS), TIMS Council Member, Chairman of the Operations Research Society of America (ORSA) Publications Committee, and Chairman of the Editor-in-Chief Selection Committees for both Operations Research and Manufacturing & Service Operations Management

Other Biographies

Bloomberg Business Research. 4R Systems, Inc. People: Marshal L. Fisher: Executive Profile. Accessed June 11, 2015. (link)

INFORMS. Miser-Harris Presidential Portrait Gallery: Marshall Fisher. Accessed August 6, 2015. (link)


Massachusetts Institute of Technology, SB 1965 

Massachusetts Institute of Technology, SM 1969

Massachusetts Institute of Technology, PhD 1970 (Mathematics Genealogy)


Academic Affiliations
Non-Academic Affiliations

Key Interests in OR/MS

Application Areas

Memoirs and Autobiographies


Awards and Honors

Frederick W. Lanchester Prize 1977

Franz Edelman Award 1983

National Academy of Engineering 1994

Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences Fellow 2002

Manufacturing and Service Operations Management Fellow 2002

Philip McCord Morse Lectureship Award 2005

George E. Kimball Medal 2007

Professional Service

The Institute of Management Sciences (TIMS), President 1988-1989

Selected Publications

Cornuejols G., Fisher M. L., & Nemhauser G. L. (1977) Location of bank accounts to optimize float: an analytic study of exact and approximate algorithms. Management Science, 23(8): 789-810. 

Fisher M. L., Nemhauser G. L., & Wolsey L. A. (1978) An analysis of approximations for maximizing submodular set functions - I. Mathematical Programing, 14(1): 265-294.

Bell W. J., Dalberto L. M., Fisher M. L., Greenfield A. J., Jaikumar R., Kedia P., Mack R. G., & Prutzman P. J. (1983) Improving the distribution of industrial gases with an on-line computerized routing and scheduling optimizer. Interfaces, 13(6): 4-23.

Fisher M. L. & Jaikumar R. (1981) A generalized assignment heuristic for vehicle routing. Networks, 11(2): 109-124.

Fisher M. L. (1985) An applications oriented guide to Lagrangian relaxation. Interfaces, 15(2): 10-21.

Fisher M. L., Hammond J. H., Obermeyer W. R., & Raman A.(1994) Making Supply Meet Demand in an Uncertain World. Harvard University Graduate School of Business Administration: Cambridge, MA.

Fisher M. L., MacDuffie J. P., & Sethuraman K. (1996) Product variety and manufacturing performance: evidence from international automotive assembly plant study. Management Science, 42(3): 350-369.

Fisher M. L. (1997) What is the right supply chain for your product?. Harvard Business Review, 75(1): 105-117.

Fisher M. L. (2004) The Lagrangian relaxation method for solving integer programming problems. Management Science, 50(12): 1861-1871.

Fisher M. L. & Raman A. (2010) The New Science of Retailing: How Analytics are Transforming Supply Chains and Improving Performance. Harvard Business School Press: Cambridge, MA.

Additional Resources

University of Pennsylvania Wharton School of Business. Operations and Information Management Department: Marshall L. Fisher. Accessed June 11, 2015. (link)