Donald Gross

October 20, 1934

Brief Biography

Gross Presidential Gallery Portrait

Donald Gross was the thirty-eighth president of the Operations Research Society of America (ORSA). Originally a student of aeronautical engineering at Carnegie Mellon University, after receiving his B.S.,he applied to Cornell University’s industrial engineering program.   When he arrived in 1956, the department was under the leadership of Andrew Schultz Jr, whose faculty first introduced Gross to the relatively new field of operations research. While teaching a course in the summer of 1958, he met his future wife, Alice, at a mixer for summer students. 

Gross received a masters and PhD in operations research from Cornell in 1959 and 1961, respectively. Having been in ROTC as an undergraduate, Gross served his tour of duty in the United States Army Signal Corps and worked as an Operations Research Analyst for the Atlantic Refining Company after earning his doctorate.

At thirty years old, Gross began his academic career at George Washington University as an assistant professor in the Engineering Administration department. Of the five faculty members in the department, only one other person at the time dealt with operations research. In a matter of years, however, the department changed its name to Engineering Administration and Operations Research as it started offering graduate degrees in OR. Gross chaired the department from 1977 to 1988 and was Acting Dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Science for a year,as well as a two-year stint as Associate Vice President for Research and Graduate Studies.  After retiring as Prof. Emertus from George Washington University, he joined the faculty of the of George Mason University's Systems Engineering and Operations Research Department  as a research professor.  Retiring for the second time, he and his wife moved to Charlottesville, VA.

Gross worked as a consultant to the Research Analysis Corporation and the Institute of Defense Analysis during his time at George Washington. He served a number of government agencies and took a leave of absence in the late 1980s to serve as Program Director of the Operations Research and Production Systems program of the National Science Foundation. As a researcher, his areas of focus have including queueing theory and discrete event simulation as applied to telecommunications, air traffic control, and inventory control. His text, Fundamentals of Queueing Theory (1974), co-authored with Carl M. Harris, continues to be an important learning tool and resource for queueing theory scholars.

As president of ORSA, Gross was involved with bringing operations research to high school and middle school classrooms. He and William King, then president of The Institute of Management Sciences, set up the committee that led to the eventual merger of the two societies in 1995. Gross also worked closely with John D. C. Little on the matter and for two years served on the Board of Directors of the resulting organization, the Institute of Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS). He considers his experiences with the societies among the most rewarding of his career.

For his dedicated service to the OR profession and its institutions, Gross was presented with the George E. Kimball Medal in 1996 and was elected into the inaugural class of INFORMS Fellows. 

Other Biographies

INFORMS. Miser-Harris Presidential Gallery: Donald Gross. Accessed April 30, 2015. (link


Carnegie-Mellon University, BS 1956

Cornell University, MS 1959

Cornell University, PhD 1961


Academic Affiliations
Non-Academic Affiliations

Key Interests in OR/MS

Application Areas

Memoirs and Autobiographies


Gross D. (2008) Reflections Life, Love and Chance. OR/MS Today, 35(3). (link

Awards and Honors

George E. Kimball Medal 1996

Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences Fellow 2002

Professional Service

Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS), Board of Directors 1996-1998

Operations Research Society of America (ORSA), President 1989

Selected Publications

Gross D. (1963) Centralized inventory control in multilocation supply systems. Gilford D. M., Scarf H. E., & Shelly M. W., eds in Multistage Inventory Models and Techniques: 47-85. Stanford University Press: Stanford, CA.

Gross D. & Harris C. M. (1974) Fundamentals of Queueing Theory. John Wiley & Sons: New York. 

Crabill T. B., Gross D., & Magazine M. J. (1977) A classified bibliography of research on optimal design and control of queues. Operations Research, 25(2): 219-232. 

Gross D., Miller D. R., & Soland R. M. (1983) A closed queueing network model for multi-echelon repairable item provisioning. AIIE Transactions 15(4): 344-352. 

Gross D. & Miller D. R. (1984) The randomization technique as a modeling tool and solution procedure for transient Markov processes. Operations Research, 32(2): 343-361. 

Gross D., Harris C. M., & Thompson J. (2002) Queueing Theory Spreadsheet Software (QTS+). John Wiley & Sons: New York.