James M. Tien

March 27, 1945

Brief Biography

James M. Tien is a systems engineer and an inaugural Fellow of the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS). Born in New York City in 1945, Tien spent his early years in China and Brazil before returning to the U. S. for his education. He received his bachelor’s degree from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1966 and his MS degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1967 (as a Bell Telephone Laboratories Fellow). He then worked at the Rand Corporation for several years while also earning a doctorate in systems engineering and operations research from MIT in 1972. Five years later, he returned to RPI and joined the faculty of the Department of Electrical, Computer and Systems Engineering. In his 30 years at RPI, Tien served as the founding chair of the Department of Decision Sciences and Engineering Systems from 1988 until 2005, interspersed by two separate stints as the Acting Dean of Engineering.

In the early 1980s, Tien published articles on manpower scheduling algorithms and facility location. His research interests have expanded to include the development and application of computer and systems analysis techniques to address information and decision problems, both in services and in goods development and logistics. In 2001, Tien was elected a member of the National Academy of Engineering. The following year, he was named an inaugural Fellow of INFORMS.

Tien has been an active and dedicated member of the Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). He has served on the organization’s Board of Directors from 2001 until 2004, and was elected Vice President of the IEEE Publication Services and Products Board (in which capacity he oversaw the digitalization of all publications) and Vice President of the IEEE Educational Activities Board (in which capacity he oversaw the development and accreditation of several new educational programs). Tien has spent more than twenty-five years as an IEEE volunteer, focused on enhancing IEEE’s professional image and on improving its services for the working professional. For his devoted service, he was given the IEEE Richard M. Emberson Award in 2010.

In 2007, Tien left RPI to become Dean of the College of Engineering at the University of Miami, where he has since remained. Tien has collaborated closely with fellow RPI/Miami professor, Daniel Berg. The pair has co-authored articles on service systems, especially in comparison to  goods manufacturing and logistics. They have also collaborated on a number of NAE-sponsored activities, including organizing regional meetings and promulgating Industrial, Manufacturing and Operational Systems Engineering.

Other Biographies

RPI News. Tien to Leave Rensselaer for University of Miami. Published August 22, 2007. Accessed May 22, 2015. (link

National Academy of Engineering. Center for the Advancement of Scholarship on Engineering Education: James Tien. Accessed May 22, 2015. (link

James Tien, Faculty Ombudsman.  University of Miami People. Accessed March 3, 2020 (link)


Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, BS 1966

Massachusetts Institute of Technology, PhD 1972


Academic Affiliations
Non-Academic Affiliations

Key Interests in OR/MS

Application Areas

Awards and Honors

National Academy of Engineering 2001

Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences Fellow 2002

IEEE Richard M. Emberson Award 2010

Professional Service

Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), Board of Directors 2000-2004, Vice President of Publication Services and Products Board 2001-2002

Selected Publications

Kamiyama A. & Tien J. M. (1982) On manpower scheduling algorithms. SIAM Review, 24(3): 275-287.

El-Tell K., Simons G. R., & Tien J. M. (1983) Improved formulations to the hierarchical health facility location-allocation problem. IEEE Transactions on Systems, Man and Cybernetics, 13(6): 1128-1132.

Berg D. & Tien J. M. (2003) A case for service systems engineering. Journal of Systems Science and Systems Engineering, 12(1), 13-38.

Tien J. M. (2003) Toward a decision informatics paradigm: a real-time, information-based approach to decision making. IEEE Transactions on Systems, Man, and Cybernetics, Part C: Applications and Reviews, 33(1): 102-113.

Berg D. & Tien J. M. (2006) On services research and education. Journal of Systems Science and Systems Engineering, 15(3): 257-283.