Denos C. Gazis

September 15, 1930 – August 8, 2004

Brief Biography

In his lifetime, Denos C. Gazis was recognized by many as the father of intelligent transportation systems. Starting in the early 1960s, he was one of the first individuals to imagine how computers and communication technologies could be used in the operation of transportation systems. Gazis received degrees from the Polytechnic School of Athens in Greece and Stanford University prior to pursuing a doctorate at Columbia University. He joined General Motors after earning a PhD in Engineering Science from Columbia in 1957.

Gazis was part of a group of traffic researchers that included Robert E. Chandler, Robert Herman, Elliott W. Montroll, Refrey B. Potts, and Richard W. Rohtery. The six men wrote a trio of articles for Operations Research on the subject of traffic dynamics and traffic flow. The three papers were awarded the 1959 Frederick W. Lanchester Prize for best publication in operations research from that year. They were lauded for the representation of “a fruitful application of a rich body of mathematical theory persuasively supported by experimental and computational evidence.” Gazis’ contribution (co-authored with Herman and Potts), “Car-following theory of steady-state traffic flow”, has nearly been cited five hundred times. That year’s award set a precedent for the prize selection Committee to encourage the publication of a series of papers reporting to a single research agenda as it progresses.

In 1961, Gazis joined the Mathematics Department of IBM Research with the hope of pursuing research in solid state physics, an extension of his PhD dissertation. He soon abandoned his interest in favor of using computer systems for traffic control. This came after he was approached by some people from IBM’s marketing organization who wanted his help in selling a computer to the Traffic Commissioner of New York City. Gazis took advantage of IBM’s freedom of research environment at the time and focused on the development of traffic control modeling. Montroll, who had recently joined the division as head of the General Sciences Department, encouraged his research in the area.

Over the course of his IBM career, Gazis went on to hold a number of executive management positions. Even in his managerial duties, Gazis continued to be an active researcher and prolific writer. His work culminated first in Traffic Science (1974) and again, twenty-six years later, in Traffic Theory (2002). Gazis eventually left IBM and established his own privately held consulting firm, PASHA Industries.

Gazis was an active member of the Operations Research Society of America and its successor, the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS). He was a founding member of the organization's Transportation Science Section, which awarded him the 1996 Robert Herman Life Achievement Award in Transportation Science, named after his former GM colleague. In the mid-1980s, Gazis served as editor-in-chief of Transportation Science. Gazis succumbed to a terminal illness and passed away in 2004.

Other Biographies

PASHA Industries. IBM Workers United: Career of Dr. Denos Gazis at IBM. Accessed June 9, 2015. (link


Polytechnic School of Athens, BS

Stanford University, MS 

Columbia University, PhD 1957


Academic Affiliations
Non-Academic Affiliations

Key Interests in OR/MS

Application Areas


Mahmassani H. (2004) In memoriam: Denos C. Gazis (1930-2004). Transportation Science, 38(4): 395. (link)

Awards and Honors

Frederick W. Lanchester Prize 1959

Robert Herman Lifetime Achievement Award 1996

Selected Publications

Gazis D. C. (1958) Exact Analysis of the Plane‐Strain Vibrations of Thick‐Walled Hollow Cylinders. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 30(8): 786-794.

Gazis D. C., Herman R., & Potts R. B. (1959) Car-following theory of steady-state traffic flow. Operations Research, 7(4): 499-505.

Gazis D. C., Herman R., & Wallis R. F. (1960) Surface elastic waves in cubic crystals. Physical Review, 119(2): 533.

Gazis D. C., Herman R., & Rothery R. W. (1961) Nonlinear follow-the-leader models of traffic flow. Operations Research, 9(4): 545-567.

Gazis D. C. (1963) The Oversaturated Intersection. International Business Machines/Thomas J. Watson Research Center: Yorktown Heights, NY.

Gazis D. C. (1964) Optimum control of a system of oversaturated intersections. Operations Research, 12(6): 815-831.

Gazis D. C. (1974) Traffic Science. Wiley: New York.

Gazis D. C. (1984) Trend in computer technology and their possible impact on the building industry. in Four Papers: Technological Trends and the Building Industry. National Academies: Washington, DC. 

Gazis D. C., Jaffe R. S., & Pope W. G. (1997) Optimal and Stable Route Planning. U.S. Patent No. 5,610,821. U.S. Patent and Trademark Office: Washington, DC.

Gazis D. C. (2002) Traffic Theory. Springer Science & Business Media: New York.