Alexander Mood

May 31, 1913 – April 26, 2009

Brief Biography

Mood Presidential Gallery Photo

Growing up in Amarillo, Texas, Alexander McFarland Mood and his brother entertained themselves by catching ground squirrels from the prairie down the street from their home. Mood turned down an offer to study violin at a music academy in Dallas and instead decided to pursue a career in science. He went to the University of Texas at Austin where he was introduced to the “power of calculus” under Robert Lee Moore’s inquiry based learning method. After graduation, Mood received a grant to study at Brown University.

After a year in Providence, Mood went to Princeton University to be part of the leading mathematics community of the day. Though he wanted to work under John von Neumann or Albert Einstein, the only thing the department could offer Mood was a statistics scholarship with Sam Wilks. Like Mood, Wilks was a fellow Texan and the two got along quite well. By the completion of his PhD dissertation, Mood was fully committed to statistics as his primary career field.

Even though he wanted to return his family to Austin, Mood got caught up in the Second World War and became one of the many scientists recruited to the National Defense Research Council. He worked on a variety of projects including one that was meant to enhance the technological efficiency of the U.S. Signals Corps. After the war, Mood moved to Ames, Iowa to teach at Iowa State University with his close friend, Bill Cochran. During this time Mood worked at the Iowa State Stat Lab and became interested in experimental design and agricultural statistics. His work led to the publication of his widely-used textbook, Introduction to the Theory of Statistics (1950).

In 1950, Mood relocated to Santa Monica, California and accepted a position at the RAND Corporation as deputy director of the Mathematics Department, under John Williams, a major proponent of Operations Research. He found the research more stimulating than pure academia and enjoyed working with material similar to his wartime contributions. One of the odder jobs Mood performed involved investigating the possibility that flying saucers and other alien craft existed.  of flying saucers and alien craft. His pay grade at RAND propelled him of Major General at the Air Force’s Strategic Air Command. After five years, Mood left to found his own firm, General Analysis Corporation (GAC), to provide service to government agencies and bureaucracies.

It was during his time with the GAC (which was later sold to CEIR, Inc.), that Mood served as the Operations Research Society of America’s twelfth president. Even though he had been out of academia for some time, he was becoming more interested in the education, particularly of statistics and operations research. When Mood finally returned to the professor’s life at the University of California, Irvine in 1967 he focused on the improvement of the process of education across all levels in various disciplines.

Even though he retired from UC Irvine in 1975, Mood continued to play a major role in uniting American and European OR and statistical efforts. 

Other Biographies

INFORMS. Miser-Harris Presidential Gallery: Alexander Mood. Accessed February 6, 2015. (link)


University of Texas, BA 1934

Princeton University, PhD 1940 (Mathematics Genealogy


Academic Affiliations
Non-Academic Affiliations

Key Interests in OR/MS

Application Areas

Oral Histories

Alexander Mood (1984) Interview by George W. Brown, July 25. The Princeton Mathematics Community in the 1930s. The Trustees of Princeton, University. (transcript)

Memoirs and Autobiographies


Mood A. M. (1990) Miscellaneous Reminiscences. Statistical Science, 5(1): 35-43. (link)

Mood A. M. (2011) A Math Path, autobiography. eBook. Lulu Publishing. 


Mood M. & Olsen C. (undated) Alexander McFarlane Mood. Unpublished Obituary. (link)


Alexander McFarlane Mood Papers, 1913-2009. Special Collections Department. Iowa State University. (link

Awards and Honors

American Statistical Association Samuel S. Wilks Award 1979

Professional Service

Operations Research Society of America (ORSA) President, 1963

American Institute of Mathematical Statistics President, 1957

Selected Publications

Dixon W. J. & Mood, A. M. (1948) A method for obtaining and analyzing sensitivity data. Journal of the American Statistical Association, 43(24): 109-126.

Mood A. M. (1950) Introduction to the Theory of Statistics. McGraw-Hill: New York.

Brown G. W. & Mood A. M. (1951) On Median Tests for Linear Hypotheses. Proceedings of the Second Berkeley Symposium on Mathematical Statistics and Probability. The Regents of the University of California: Berkeley, CA.

Mood A. M. (1954) On the asymptotic efficiency of certain nonparametric two-sample tests. The Annals of Mathematical Statistics, 514-522.

Mood A. M. & Specht R. D. (1954) Gaming as a Technique of Analysis. RAND Corporation: Santa Monica, CA.