Shaler Stidham Jr.

December 4, 1941

Brief Biography

Stidham Fellow Portrait

Shaler “Sandy” Stidham, Jr. is a former chair of the Applied Probability Society and a Fellow of the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS). Stidham studied operations research at Stanford University. As a graduate student, he approached Frederick S. Hillier and discussed closed queueing networks as a potential dissertation topic. Since many developments in that particular area had been recently made, Hillier suggested he instead focus on the optimization of queueing systems. Stidham became hooked and began a long career in the subject. Arthur "Pete" Veinott, who was a member of his doctoral committee, offered the possibility of using stochastic ordering in his dissertation. In what may have been the first application of that theory to queueing systems, Stidham went on to receive his PhD in 1968 at which point he joined the Departments of Operations Research and Environmental Engineering at Cornell University as an assistant professor. In 1975, he left Ithaca, New York for the Department of Industrial Engineering at North Carolina State University. After eleven years, Stidham accepted a position in the Department of Operations Research down the road at the University of North Carolina.

Stidham’s research has focused on optimal design and control within queueing theory, revenue management, and Markov decision processes. In 1972, he published a paper inAdvances in Applied Probabilityon regenerative processes in theory of queues using a mixture of well-know and novel asymptotic properties. In the mid to late 1980s, he worked on optimal control in queueing systems and networks. His 1999 book, Sample-Path Analysis of Queueing Systems, co-authored with Muhammed El-Taha, was presented that year’s Best Publication Award of the Applied Probability Society. The text uses a deterministic, sample-path approach to analyze primarily queueing systems and other general input-output systems. Sample-Path Analysis of Queueing Systems successful gives researchers, professors, practitioners, and students thorough insight into important queueing theory results.

Some of Stidham’s later work in queueing theory and decision processes focused largely on problems in transportation and the airline industry. In the late 1990s, he published influential articles in Transportation Science on airline yield management. In 2001, he wrote a retrospective paper on the development of applied probability in operations research. An abridged draft was published in the fiftieth anniversary edition of Operations Research. In it, he outlined the development of classical queueing theory, computational probability, priority queues, control models, and other import areas in the subject.

In the early 1990s, Stidham chaired the Operations Research Department at North Carolina. He has held visiting positions at Cambridge University, the French Institute for Research in Computer Science and Automation (INRIA), and universities in Denmark. Though Stidham retired from UNC in 2002 and is currently Emeritus Professor, he remains actively involved in the operations research community and is currently serving on the INFORMS History and Traditions Committee. 


Stanford University, PhD 1968


Academic Affiliations

Key Interests in OR/MS

Application Areas

Image Gallery and Slideshow