Martin Puterman

May 28, 1945

Brief Biography

Puterman Fellow Portrait

Martin L. Puterman is a Frederick W. Lanchester Prize recipient and Fellow of the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS). Puterman received a degree in mathematics at Cornell University prior to pursuing studying in computer science at Purdue University. In 1967, he transferred to Operations Research at Stanford and completed his dissertation on the optimal control of diffusion processes under Arthur F. Veinott, Jr. While working towards his PhD, Puterman worked at the Aerospace Corporation and the Stanford Research Institute. He also volunteered as a mathematics teacher at a local high school. His first faculty position was at the University of Massachusetts, followed by a brief stint at the Massachusetts Public Interest Research Group.

In 1974, Puterman joined the faculty of the Sauder School of Business at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. Since 2000, he has been the Advisory Board Professor of Operations in the schools’s Operations and Logistics Division.

A number of Puterman’s publications have received honors for their quality and influence. His book, Markov Decision Processes (1994), won the 1995 Frederick W. Lanchester Prize for best publication in operations research. It was cited as “an encyclopedic book which covers the theory and applications of Markov decision processes with discrete state space” and celebrated for its “skillful integration of this diver literature.” The prize committee went on to praise the introduction of rich theory and displayed application significance. Puterman has also made significant advancements to the treatment of cancer patients. His paper, “When to Treat Prostate Cancer Patients Based on their PSA Dynamics”, received the 2009 Pierskalla Award of the INFORMS Health Application Society for research excellence in the field of health care management science. 

Puterman is a two time laureate of the Case and Teaching Material Competition, having been named a finalist in 2002 and receiving first place honors the following year. The competition encourages the creation, dissemination, and classroom use of new and unpublished cases in operations research and the management sciences. In 2002, Puterman’s case study involved J. S. MicMillan Fisheries, Ltd. as an investigation of optimizing production planning. His winning material in 2003 dealt with the Whistler Blackcomb Ski and Snowboard School in British Columbia.

An elected Fellow of the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences since 2006, Puterman has also been an active member in the operations research community of Canada. In 2005, he received the Canadian Operational Research Society’s Award of Merit (CORS). The award committee recognized his contributions to the teaching, practice and promotion of OR in Canada and his service to CORS. In 2015, The Centre for Operations Excellence (COE) at Sauder, which he founded and directed, was the receipient of the UPS George D. Smither Prize for the effective and innovative preparation of students to be good practitioners of operations research, management science, or analytics.


Cornell University, AB 1966

Stanford University, MS 1969

Stanford University, PhD 1971


Academic Affiliations
Non-Academic Affiliations

Key Interests in OR/MS

Application Areas

Memoirs and Autobiographies


Operations Research for Improved Cancer Care. Martin L. Puterman: Curriculum Vitae. Accessed May 18, 2015. (link)

Awards and Honors

Frederick W. Lanchester Prize 1995

First Place, Case and Teaching Material Competition 2003

Canadian Operation Research Society Award of Merit 2005

Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences Fellow 2006

Health Applications Society Pierskalla Best Paper Award 2009

Professional Service

Biostatistics Section of Statistical Society of Canada, President 1990-1991

Selected Publications

Puterman M. L. & Shin M. C. (1978) Modified policy iteration algorithms for discounted Markov decision problems. Management Science, 24(11): 1127-1137.

Ballon H. S., Chan V., Lirenman D. S., Magil A. B., Puterman M. L., Rae A., & Sutton R. A. L. (1988) Prognastic factors in diffuse proliferative lupus gloreulonephritis. Kidney International, 34(4): 511-517.

Farquharson D., Ling E. W., Puterman M. L., & Rotschild A. (1990) Neonatal outcome after prolonged preterm rupture of the membranes. American Journal of Obsterics and Gynecology, 162(1): 46-52.

Leroux B. G. & Puterman M. L. (1992) Maximum-penalized-likelihood estimation for independent and Markov-dependent mixture models. Biometrics, 48:545-558.

Puterman M. L. (1994) Markov Decision Processes: Discrete Stochastic Dynamic Programming. Wiley & Sons: New York.

Cockburn I. M., Le Nhu., Puterman M. L., Wang P. (1996) Mixed poisson regression models with covariate dependent rates. Biometrics, 52: 381-400.

Cockburn I. M., Puterman M. L., & Wang P. (1998) Analysis of patent date- a mixed-Poisson-regression-model approach. Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, 16(1): 27-41.

Bisi A., Ding X., Puterman M. L. (2002) The censored newsvendor and the optimal acquisition of information. Operations Research, 50(3): 517-527.

Patrick J., Puterman M. L., & Queyranne M. (2008) Dynamic multipriority patient scheduling for a diagnostic resource. Operations Research, 56(6): 1507-1525.

Lavieri M. S., Puterman M. L., Tyldesley S., & Morris W. J. (2012) When to treat prostate cancer patients based on their PSA dynamics. IIE Transactions on Healthcare Systems Engineering, 2(1): 62-77.