Jacinto Steinhardt

May 20, 1906 – January 30, 1985

Brief Biography

Stienhardt Award Photo

Jacinto (Jay) Steinhardt was a pioneer in military operations research and a founding member of the Operations Research Society of America (ORSA).  He went on to serve as the society’s third president in 1954. Steinhardt was born in New York City and received all three of his degree locally at Columbia University. After earning his doctorate in chemistry in 1934, he became a National Research Fellow at the Physical-Chemical Institute in Copenhagen. He would go on to hold positions at the Physiological Laboratory in England, the Physical-Chemical Institute in Upsala, Sweden, and the Harvard Medical School. In 1938, he joined the National Bureau of Standards as a physical chemist.

Steinhardt was introduced to military operations research in the same fashion as many of his peers – by the United States’ entry into World War II. In November, 1942, he joined the United States Navy Anti-Submarine Warfare Group (ASWORG) under Philip M. Morse. It is unclear why he chose ASWORG over an organization more fitting his professional background, e.g. the Army Chemical Corps. By joining the anti-submarine effort, he changed the entire course of his professional career, collaborating with such OR leaders as Robert Rinehart, Martin Ernst, Bernard O. Koopman, and George E. Kimball. Steinhardt was a very effective member of the group and worked alongside the Navy’s Fourth Fleet in Brazil and the Seventh Fleet in the Pacific. His work led to the successful prevention of German blockade runners from picking up and delivering Malaysian and Japanese tin and rubber.

After the War, Morse returned to his academic position at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, paving way for Steinhardt to become the new director of AWSORG (renamed the Operations Research Group). The Navy decided to significantly downsize their peacetime research effort. In November 1945, the Operations Research Group was reconstituted as the Operations Evaluation Group (OEG) in partnership with MIT. Steinhardt served as the first and only Director of the OEG. Under his leadership, the group went on to publish many important reports on naval operations that would serve as an intellectual foundation for operations research.

Steinhardt felt it necessary that future naval officers familiarize themselves with operations research and its application. Alongside Rear Admiral E. E. Herman, he designed a six-term curriculum for students at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California. The program continues to this day and has since become the model of naval OR education across the globe.

As a founding member of ORSA, Steinhardt served on the original Council and Publications Committee of the Society in 1952-53. He was elected Vice President of ORSA the following year and acceded to the Presidency in the Society's third year. In his memory, the Military Applications Society of the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS) established the J. Steinhardt Prize to honor individual career accomplishments in practicing or managing military operations research.

In 1962, alterations in the Navy’s research structure led to the creation of the Center of Naval Analysis (CNA). Given that it was the CNA’s designed purpose to manage all of the Navy’s major study groups, the OEG was subsumed within the center’s structure. Steinhardt left later that year and accepted a position in chemistry at Georgetown University. He retired in 1980 and passed away five years later following a stroke. 

Other Biographies

Profiles in Operations Research: Jacinto Steinhardt
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INFORMS Community Prizes and Awards. Jacinto Steinhardt Prize: Who Was Jacinto Steinhardt?. Accessed March 21, 2015. (link)

INFORMS. Miser-Harris Presidential Gallery: Jacinto Steinhardt. Accessed March 21, 2015. (link)


Columbia University, BS 1927

Columbia University, MS 1928

Columbia University, PhD 1934


Academic Affiliations
Non-Academic Affiliations

Key Interests in OR/MS

Application Areas

Awards and Honors

American Medal of Freedom 1945

United States President's Certificate of Merit 1946

Professional Service

Operations Research Society of America, President 1954, Vice-President 1953

Selected Publications

Steinhardt J. (1946) The role of operations research in the Navy. Proceedings of the U.S. Naval Institute, 72(519):649-655.

Steinhardt J. (1955) Terminal ballistics. Operations Research, 3(3): 231-232.

Reynolds J. A & Steinhardt J. (1969) Multiple Equilibria in Proteins. Academic Press: New York.