Robert G. Sargent

June 14, 1937

Brief Biography

Sargent Fellow Portrait

Robert G. Sargent is a simulation scientist and former President of The Institute of Management Sciences (TIMS) College of Simulation and Gaming (now the INFORMS Simulation Society). After receiving his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of Michigan, Sargent accepted a position at Hughes Aircraft where he received his first exposure to digital computers. He returned to school after two and a half years in industry, wanting to design large scale systems. In a graduate-level data processing course at Michigan he was introduced to discrete event simulation. Sargent was quickly hooked on the subject and decided to remain for a PhD. After considering writing his dissertation on queueing simulation under Ralph Disney, he instead focused on the use of control theory for managing inventory systems under Hugh Bradley.

After receiving his doctoral degree, Sargent joined Syracuse University to participate in their new Systems and Information Science graduate program being established with sponsorship by IBM. Shortly after his arrival, he was made aware of the university’s close relationship with Rome Air Development Center, an applied research lab of the United States Air Force in upstate New York. Sargent became involved in contractual research between the Air Force and Syracuse. His work in simulation was sponsored by both institutions, creating an environment and relationship in which he could foster significant contributions to the field throughout his career.

In the late 1960s, Sargent attended a conference at Duke University where he was able to interact with and had exposure to early simulation pioneers. He went on to work alongside many of these individuals. As a leading figure in the simulation community, Sargent was able to bring together international leaders in the field to a variety of professional meetings and conferences.

Early on, Sargent wrote a number of introductory papers on simulation, giving a series of orientation talks. Starting in the 1970s, he began working with output analysis, remaining interested in the subject throughout his career. In the realm of modelling, he developed control flow graphs to model systems whose simulations could run on both sequential and parallel computing systems. By the mid to late-1980s, Sargent had become an authority on simulation models and was invited to present lectures on the subject at a number of conferences across the United States and the world. Work with the Air Force led him to become an expert on the validation of simulation models.

Sargent has performed considerable professional service. This includes reestablishing the Winter Simulation Conference (WSC) in 1976, writing the WSC Bylaws, serving as the 1977 WSC General Chair, and being the Founding President of the WSC Foundation in 2004. His editorial work includes serving on editorial boards of simulation journals and being the first person to hold a simulation editorial position for any ACM publication when he served as Department Editor, Simulation Modeling and Statistical Computing (Research  Contributions), Communications of the ACM (1980-1985).

A number of awards and honors have been presented to Sargent. In 1988 he received the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS) Simulation Society Distinguished Service Award in recognition of his presidency of its predecessor and extensive contributions to the field. In 2002, the same organization presented Sargent its Lifetime Professional Achievement Award. The award-selection committee, which he has since chaired, lauded his research contributions to modeling, computational speedup, output analysis, and verification and validation. Sargent was also honored for his contributions to the practice of simulation with the USAF, his role as an active disseminator of simulation knowledge, and his development of new simulation software. In 2005, he was elected a Fellow of INFORMS. ACM SIGSIM honored him in 2012 with their Distinguished Contributions Award.

In 2002, Sargent and Richard E. Nance coauthored an article in Operations Research on their perspective on the historical development of simulation. Sargent in 1998 initiated the establishment of a Simulation Archive to collect and preserve the history of the field at the North Carolina State University Libraries. He plays an active role in the Archive including establishing its Endowment and its Advisory Committee which he served as its initial Chair.

Other Biographies

Syracuse University Engineering and Computer Science. People: Robert Sargent. July 7, 2017. (link


University of Michigan, BSE 1959

University of Michigan, MS 1963

University of Michigan, PhD 1966


Academic Affiliations
Non-Academic Affiliations

Key Interests in OR/MS

  • Systems Performance Evaluation
Application Areas

Oral Histories

Robert G. Sargent (2013) Interview by James R. Wilson. January 24. Raleigh, North Carolina. NCSU Computer Simulation Archive: Raleigh, North Carolina. (video)


Robert Sargent Papers, MC 00343, Special Collections Research Center, North Carolina State University Libraries, Raleigh, NC. (link)

Awards and Honors

Institute of Industrial Engineers Service Award 1985

Association for Computing Machinery Service Award 1985

INFORMS Simulation Society Distinguished Service Award 1988

INFORMS Simulation Society Lifetime Professional Achievement Award 2002

Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences Fellow 2005 

Winter Simulation Conference Fortieth Anniversary Landmark Paper Award 2007

Winter Simulation Conference Board of Directors James R. Wilson Award 2010

ACM SIGSIM Distinguished Contributions Award 2012

University of Michigan Alumni Award 2018 (link)

Professional Service

TIMS College of Simulation and Gaming, President 1978-1980

Winter Simulation Conference, General Chair 1977

Association of Computing Machinery National Lecturer 1985-1989

Selected Publications

Balci O. & Sargent R. G. (1981) A methodology for cost-risk analysis in the statistical validation of simulation models. Communications of the ACM, 24(4): 190-197.

McCormack W. M. & Sargent R. G. (1981) Analysis of future event set algorithms for discrete event Simulation. Communications of the ACM, 24(12): 801-812.

Shanthikumar J. G. & Sargent R. G. (1983) A unifying view of hybrid simulation/analytic models and modeling. Operations Research, 31(6): 1030-1052.

Sargent R. G. (1984) A tutorial on verification and validation of simulation models.  Pegden C. D., Pooch U. W., & Sheppard S., eds. in Proceedings of the 16th Winter Simulation Conference, 114-121. Society for Computer Simulation: San Diego, CA. 

Chen B. & Sargent R. G. Confidence interval estimation for the variance parameter of stationary processes. Management Science, 36(2): 200-211.

Sargent R. G., Kang K, and Goldsman D. (1992) An investigation of finite-sample behavior of confidence interval estimators. Operations Research, 40(5): 898-913.

Sargent R. G. (1998) Verification and validation of simulation models. Carson J. S., Manivannan M. S., Medeiros D. J., & Watson E. F., eds. in Proceedings of the 30th Conference on Winter Simulation, 121-130. Society for Computer Simulation: San Diego, CA.

Kleijnen J. P. C. & Sargent R. G. (2000) A methodology for fitting and validating metamodels in simulation. European Journal of Operations Research, 120(1): 14-29.

Nance R. E. & Sargent R. G. (2002) Perspectives on the evolution of simulation. Operations Research, 50(1): 161-172. (link)

Sargent R. G. (2013) Verification and validation of Simulation Models. Journal of Simulation, 7(1): 12-24.