Matthew J. Sobel


Brief Biography

Sobel Fellow Portrait

Matthew J. Sobel is known for his books on stochastic modeling in operations research and his significant contributions to the fields of inventory and production management, time-risk preferences in decision making, and the operations-finance interface. Sobel is the William E. Umstattd Professor Emeritus of Industrial Economics and Professor Emeritus of Operations at Case Western Reserve University’s Weatherhead School of Management  where he chaired the Department of Operations and the Department of Economics. In addition to Case, Sobel has been on the faculties of Yale University, the George Institute of Technology, and the State University of New York at Stony Brook. Across the four universities, he has supervised twenty-three PhD students.

In the early 1980s, Sobel and Daniel P. Heyman published a two volume series on stochastic models in operations research. In 1990s, the pair edited a volume of the Handbook of Operations Research and Management Science that specialized in  stochastic modeling.

Sobel is an accomplished researcher of inventory management and manufacturing operations. His PhD dissertation, at Stanford University under the supervision of Gerald J. Lieberman, was on production smoothing with stochastic demand and related inventory problems. Sobel was elected a Distinguished Fellow of the Manufacturing and Service Operations Management Society (MSOM) of the Institute of Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS) in recognition of his outstanding research and scholarship in operations management. That year, the MSOM Interface of Finance, Operations, and Risk Management Special Interest Group (iFORM SIG) named Sobel’s Management Science article, “Control of Dividends, Capital Subscriptions, and Physical Inventories” (co-authored with Lode Li and Martin Shubik, the inaugural best paper on an iFORM subject.

In addition to his academic positions, Sobel has worked with a number of other organizations. His professional posts have included the corporate staff of the Western Electric Company, regional environmental planning at a predecessor to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and consultation for a diverse array of firms and agencies.

In 2004 , Sobel was elected a Fellow of INFORMS. His recent research pursues decision making in risky situations by modeling decision makers’ preferences regarding time and risk.

Other Biographies

Case Western Reserve University Weatherhead School of Management. Faculty & Research Emeriti: Matthew Sobel. Accessed May 7, 2015. (link)


Stanford University, PhD 1967 (Mathematics Genealogy)


Academic Affiliations
Non-Academic Affiliations
  • U. S. Environmental Protection Agency
  • Western Electric Company

Key Interests in OR/MS

Application Areas

Oral Histories

Matthew J. Sobel (2017). Interview by Paul Zipkin, October 23, 2017, Houston, TX.

NOTE:  The video chapter transcripts below are searchable, with search results displayed as marks on the time bar above the search box.  Click a mark to jump to the search word or phrase in the video and transcript, or click on any word in the transcript to jump to that point in the video

Jump to Chapters

Chapter 1: Early Life and College
Chapter 2: First Jobs at Western Electric and the US Public Health Service
Chapter 3: Graduate Studies at Stanford
Chapter 4: First Academic Position at Yale
Chapter 5: Academic Positions at Georgia Tech and Stony Brook
Chapter 6: Moving to Case Western Reserve University
Chapter 7: From Whales to Elephants
Chapter 8: Other Favorite Research Topics
Chapter 9: Evolution of Operations Research

Memoirs and Autobiographies


Matthew J. Sobel Resume

Awards and Honors

Society of Manufacturing Engineers University Lead Award

Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences Fellow 2004

Manufacturing & Service Operations Management  Distinguished Fellow 2014

Manufacturing & Service Operations Management Interface of Finance, Operations, and Risk Management Special Interest Group Best Paper Award 2014

Selected Publications

Sobel M. J. (1965) Water quality improvement programming problems. Water Resources Research, 1(4): 477-487.

Sobel M. J. (1971) Noncooperative stochastic games. The Annals of Mathematical Statistics, 42(6): 1930-1935.

Botkin D. B. & Sobel M. J. (1975) Stability in time-varying ecosystems. American Naturalist, 109(970): 625-646.

Sobel M. J. (1981) Myopic solutions of Markov decision processes and stochastic games. Operations Research, 29(5): 995-1009.

Heyman D. P. & Sobel M. J. (1982) Stochastic Models in Operations ResearchVolume I. McGraw-Hill: New York.

Heyman D. P. & Sobel M. J. (1984) Stochastic Models in Operations ResearchVolume II. McGraw-Hill: New York.

Heyman D. P. & Sobel M. J., eds. (1990) Handbook of Operations Research and Management Science, Volume 2: Stochastic Models. Elsevier-North Holland: Amsterdam.

Sobel M. J. (1990) Myopic solutions of affine dynamic models. Operations Research, 38(5): 847-853.

Babich V. & Sobel M. J. (2004) Pre-IPO operational and financial decisions. Management Science, 50(7): 935-948.

Slotnick S. A. & Sobel M. J. (2005) Manufacturing lead-time rules: customer retention versus tardiness costs. European Journal of Operational Research, 163(3): 825-856.

Li, L., Shubik, M., & Sobel, M. J. (2013) Control of dividends, capital subscriptions, and physical inventories. Management Science, 59(5): 1107-1124.