Peter J. Kolesar

November 25, 1936

Brief Biography

Kolesar Fellow Portrait

Peter J. Kolesar is a Frederick W. Lanchester Prize recipient whose work in the managerial sciences focuses on accelerating the effective implementation of modern quality and productivity management models. Kolesar attended Queens College of the City University of New York prior to joining the Procter and Gamble Company as a systems analyst.  At P&G, he was responsible for the design, evaluation, and implementation of feed-back based inventory and production control plans. Kolesar went on to earn three degrees from Columbia, studying under Cyrus Derman. He received his PhD in 1964 with a dissertation on control limit replacement rules under Markovian deterioration.

Kolesar’s first postdoctoral position was as a visiting lecturer of operations research at the Imperial College of Science and Technology in London. He taught courses in mathematical programming and quality control. Kolesar began working as a consultant to MATHEMATICA, Inc. in Princeton, NJ and the Market Research Corporation of America. There, he worked on statistical analysis and the applications of linear and integer programming to large industrial scheduling and control problems. He returned to his alma mater in 1965 and became an Associate Professor at Columbia’s School of Engineering and Applied Science. Kolesar left Columbia in 1972 for the City College of New York before returning in 1976. He has worked extensively with Columbia Business School professor Linda V. Green on nonstationary queuing systems and applications to the logistics of police patrol.

In 1974, Kolesar was awarded the Frederick W. Lanchester Prize with Warren E. Walker. He and Walker were both consultants at the RAND Corporation at the time. As a senior analyst at RAND’s New York offices, Kolesar was responsible for major research in health care delivery systems, the deployment of fire-fighting resources, police patrol allocation, and municipal refuse collection. His and Walker’s paper, “An algorithm for the dynamic relocation of fire companies” was lauded for its observations of a system in operation, conferences with the New York City Fire Department, analysis of historical data, and design of an algorithm that could yield, at no extra cost, an improvement in the quality of fire protection. The pair provided an operations research approach that simultaneously saved lives and reduced property damage in a cost-efficient manner.

Kolesar has been a dedicated member of the OR/MS community. From 1973 to 1975, he served as Chairman of the Friends of Optimization. He has held a number of editorial positions as well. He has been an editor-at-large for Interfaces since 1982 and an area editor of Technology and Operations Review since 1994. Kolesar has also been an association editor of Mangement Science (1978-1985) and Operations Research (1978-1983).  A longtime supporter of the Edelman Award for Applied Management Science, Kolesar for several years edited the special issue of Interfaces devoted to the competition and served as a judge and coach, in addition to being an Edelman Laureate twice. He has had a major influence on international operations research, having been an exchange scientist to the Soviet Union, a member of multiple NATO Advanced Research Institutes, and a National Representative of the United States Delegation to the International Federation of Operational Research Societies.

In 2022, Kolesar was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Water Resources Association of the Delaware River Basin for pioneering work to develop, refine and implement the Flexible Flow Management Program (FFMP), a fundamental component to the sustainable allocation of Delaware River water resources. This algorithm has been in use since 2007 to manage the releases of water into the Delaware River from the three New York City dams on its headwaters. Using operations research methods, this algorithm balances the municipal water needs and risks of New York City and down basin stakeholders, including Philadelphia, Trenton, and central New Jersey with protection of the aquatic environmental of the upper River. This work has previously been recognized by the 2021 Lee Wulff Conservation Award from the Catskill Fly Fishing Center and Museum, and earlier by the National Park Service and by the Upper Delaware Council. This research has been carried out over a span of more than 17 years, with the initial algorithm implemented in 2007 and the latest component, a procedure for mitigating thermal episodes in the river, implemented in 2019.

Kolesar is a Fellow of the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences. In 2011, he was named a Distinguished Fellow of the Manufacturing and Service Operations Management Society. 

Other Biographies

Columbia University Graduate School of Business. Peter J. Kolesar: Biographical Summary. Accessed May 4, 2015. (link

Massachusetts Institute of Technology Operations Research Center. Spring 2011 Seminar Series Biographical Sketches: Peter Kolesar. Accessed May 4, 2015. (link)


Queens College (CUNY), AB 1959

Columbia University, BS 1959

Columbia University, MS 1962

Columbia University, PhD 1964 (Mathematics Genealogy)


Academic Affiliations
  • Columbia University
  • Mount Sinai School of Medicine
  • Queens College (City University of New York) 
Non-Academic Affiliations
  • Procter and Gamble
  • City of New York
  • Market Research Corporation of America
  • Mathematica, Inc.
  • Medco Containment Services

Key Interests in OR/MS

Application Areas

Memoirs and Autobiographies


Columbia University Graduate School of Business. Peter J. Kolesar: Complete Vita. Accessed May 4, 2015. (link

Awards and Honors

Frederick W. Lanchester Prize 1975

NATO Systems Science Award 1976

Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences Fellow 2005

Manufacturing and Service Operations Management Society Distinguished Fellow 2011 

Professional Service

The Friends of Optimization, Chairman 1973-1975

Selected Publications

Kolesar P. J. (1967) A branch and bound algorithm for the knapsack problem. Management Science, 13(9): 723-735.

Kolesar P. J. (1974) An algorithm for the dynamic relocation of fire companies. Operations Research, 22(1): 249-274.

Kolesar P. J., et al. (1975) A queuing-linear programming approach to scheduling police patrol cars. Operations Research, 23(6): 1045-1062.

Kolesar P. J. (1993) The relevance of research on statistical process control to the total quality movement. Journal of Engineering Technology Management, 10(4): 317-338.

Green L. V., Kolesar P. J., & Soares J. (2001) Improving the SIPP approach for staffing service systems that have cyclic demands. Operations Research, 49(4): 549-564.

Green L. V. & Kolesar P. J. (2004) Improving emergency responsiveness with management science. Management Science, 50(8): 1001-1014.

Green L. V., Kolesar P. J., & Whitt W. (2007) Coping with time-varying demand when setting staffing requirements for a service system. Production and Operations Management, 16(1): 13-39.