Andrew Vazsonyi

November 4, 1916 – November 13, 2003

Brief Biography

Endre Weiszfeld was born to a successful cobbler and businessman in Budapest. Like many Hungarian Jews in the years leading up to World War II, Weiszfeld changed his surname (anglicizing his first name some years later). He chose Vazsonyi, an abbreviated spelling of his father’s birthplace. In 1938 he received his PhD under the supervision of Lipot Fejer, a renowned academic who had supervised a number of other great Hungarian mathematicians such as George Polya and John von Neumann. Given the poor availability of post-graduate opportunities for Jews in the Hungarian academic community, Vazsonyi decided to immigrate to the United States. He moved first to Paris and, after two years of negotiation, successfully obtained a visa, leaving Europe only months before the Nazi invasion of France.

Vazsonyi’s operations research career began before he was even aware of the discipline’s existence. Prior to leaving Budapest, he solved what is now a fundamental OR problem on warehouse distribution and facility location. It wasn’t until thirty years later when Vazsonyi learned of the valuable contribution he made with his earlier work.

Shortly after arriving in the United States, Vazsonyi accepted a Fellowship at Harvard’s Graduate School of Engineering. He received a masters of science in mechanical engineering and accepted a teaching position with the university. In 1945, Vazsonyi became a U.S. citizen and sought out industrial experience. He began at a small manufacturing firm in Pennsylvania before joining North American Aviation. For twenty-five years, Vazsonyi held a series of engineering, consulting, and managerial positions with North American Aviation, Hughes Aviation, Ramo-Woolridge Corporation, and Roe Alderson.

As an OR practitioner, Vazsonyi found his own professional niche, employing his mathematical knowledge and talent to the improvement of business and industry. He joined the Operations Research Society of America (ORSA) but was dissatisfied by the imposing military tradition of the association. He, William W. Cooper, Mel Salveson, Abraham Charnes, Merrill Flood, and others decided to create their own organization and dedicate it to the day-to-day operations of American business. They founded The Institute of Management Sciences (TIMS) in 1953. Cooper was selected as the institute’s first president but the TIMS constitution required that the immediate past president serve as chairman of the TIMS governing council. Since no such person existed, Vazsonyi was chosen as the association’s inaugural Past President in a special election.

In 1958, Vazsonyi published Scientific Programming in Business and Industry. It was one of the first texts on operations research and management sciences written specifically for the “businessman, manager, controller, for the marketing, production, and financial executive, and for the student of business.” It conveyed new ideas of OR/MS in a more tangible fashion with minimal mathematics theory.

When Vazsonyi returned to academia at age fifty-four, his first position was at the University of Southern California. He later joined the University of Rochester’s Graduate School of Business faculty, initiating the school’s first management information systems courses. Vazsonyi eventually settled at St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, remaining until his retirement in 1987. During that period, he became associated with the Decision Sciences Institute and started a regular column for DSI’s newsletter.

Prior to his death in 2003, Vazsonyi grew concerned with the state of operations research. He believed that an “optimization syndrome” was harming the decision sciences in business schools. He called for the use of computer-based models over archaic mathematical ones. Vazsonyi outlined his personal views on the state and development of OR/MS in his 2002 autobiography. 

Other Biographies

Profiles in Operations Research: Andrew Vazsonyi
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Wikipedia Entry for Andrew Vazsonyi


Pazmany Peter University, PhD 1938

Harvard University, MS 1942


Academic Affiliations
Non-Academic Affiliations

Key Interests in OR/MS

Application Areas

Memoirs and Autobiographies


Vazsonyi A. (2002) Which Door Has the Cadillac: Adventures of a Real-Life Mathematician. Writer's Club Press: New York. 

Vazsonyi A. (2002) "Reminiscences & Reflections: My first taste of OR 'I Had a Helluva Big Assignment'" ORMS Today 29:5 October 2002 (link)


Gass S. I. (2004) In Memoriam, Andrew (Andy) Vazsonyi: 1916-2003. OR/MS Today, 47(1). (link

Awards and Honors

Decision Sciences Institute Fellow

Professional Service

The Institute of Management Sciences (TIMS), Past President 1954

Selected Publications

Weiszfeld E. (1936) Sur un problème de minimum das l’espace. Tôhoku Mathematics Journal, 42: 274-280.

Vazsonyi A. (1958) Scientific Programming in Business and Industry. Wiley & Sons: New York.

Vazsonyi A. (1970) Problem Solving by Digital Computers with PL/I Programming. Prentice-Hall: New York.

Vazsonyi A. (1973) Introduction to Electronic Data Processing. Wiley & Sons: New York.

Vazsonyi A. (1977) Finite Mathematics: Quantitative Analysis for Management. Wiley & Sons: New York.

Vazsonyi A. (1980) Introduction to Data Processing. R. D. Irwin: Chicago.

Vazsonyi A. (1985) Raise Your Productivity with IBM PC. Prentice-Hall: New York.

Vazsonyi A. (2001) Operations Analysis Using Microsoft Excel. Duxbury: Pacific Grove, CA.