Mel E. Salveson

January 16, 1919 – September 2, 2014

Brief Biography

Mel Salveson

Melvin Erwin Salveson was a founding member of The Institute of Management Sciences (TIMS) and its sixth president. Like his contemporaries, he thought it was pivotal that managers of significant operations in industry master management science. Believing no existing professional institution or organization fostered this necessity, he sought to create one that did. In September 1953, Salveson initiated the establishment of TIMS (which he and Merrill Flood flood) by organizing a meeting at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Salveson completed undergraduate study at the University of California, Berkeley in 1941. With the United States’ entry into the Second World War, he paused his education to serve as a lieutenant commander in the US Naval Reserve (1941-1946). When the war ended, he was driven to find a formula or model by which one could devise optimal schedules in military and civilian applications. He hoped to develop the most efficient utilization of production resources. At the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Salveson worked towards his master’s degree and studied management methods in technological environments.

Upon graduation, Salveson started his career as a consultant to McKinsey & Co. in New York City. He joined the firm hoping to learn about professionals’ solutions to scheduling and management problems for their clients. Upset by the lack of science-based solutions at McKinsey, Salveson left in 1949 and joined the University of California at Los Angeles as an assistant professor of management science and director of management science research. While holding that position, he received his PhD from the University of Chicago, where he was influenced by the ideas of his dissertation supervisor, Tjalling Koopmans and economist Milton Friedman. Under Koopmans, Salveson developed his own theory of planning and scheduling operations. Salveson's dissertation committee included George E. Kozmetsky, who helped Salveson get the final product published in Econometrica.

Salveson remained at UCLA until 1954. He spent the next three years as manager of advanced data systems at General Electric Co. in New York, using the first computer in industry—the Univac I. He returned to Los Angeles in 1957 and focused on the application of management science to business problems as president of GE's Management Science Division. It was during this time that he served as president of TIMS. In 1964, Salveson founded the Electronics Currency Corporation and continued to serve as its president until his death. He was responsible for creating the system that serves As the basis for the operation of bank credit card systems such as Mastercard and VISA. He engaged in litigation against credit card companies, claiming rights as the inventor of the systems and that the fees charged for their use are excessive. Continuing his interests in universal transaction systems, Salveson founded OneCard International , Inc. in 1983 and UniCard System, Inc. in 1993. In 2005 he received a patent for a universal card transaction system. 

In addition to his positions of leadership in business, Dr. Salveson served as an advisor on information systems for the U.S. Air Force, the City of Los Angeles, and California’s department of human resources. He also served on the boards of several corporations, and was a member of the board of trustees of Long Beach City College, also taught at Pepperdine University and University of Southern California. In 2002, he was elected to the inaugural class of Fellows of the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences.

Other Biographies

INFORMS. Miser-Harris Presidential Gallery: Mel E. Salveson. Accessed March 2, 2015. (link)


University of California, Berkeley, BS 1941

Massachusetts Institute of Technology, MS 1947

University of Chicago, PhD 1952


Academic Affiliations
Non-Academic Affiliations

Key Interests in OR/MS

Application Areas

Memoirs and Autobiographies


Salveson M. E. (2003) The Founding Fathers of TIMS. OR/MS Today, 20(3). (link)


Staff (2014) In Memoriam: Melvin Erwin Salveson. OR/MS Today, 41(6). (link)

Awards and Honors

Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences Fellow 2002

Professional Service

The Institute of Management Sciences, President 1959

Selected Publications

Salveson M. E. (1952) On a quantitative method in production planning and scheduling. Econometrica: Journal of the Econometric Society, 20(4): 554-590.

Salveson M. E. (1955) The assembly line balancing problem. Journal of Industrial Engineering, 6(3): 18-25. 

Salveson M. E. (1956) A problem in optimal machine loading. Management Science, 2(3): 232-260. 

Salveson M. E. (1958) An analysis of Decisions. Management Science, 4(3): 203-217.

Salveson M. E. (2005) U.S. Patent No. 6,886,741: "Electronic Transaction System". U. S. Patent and Trademark Office: Washington, D.C.