John D. C. Little

INFORMS President, 1995; TIMS President, 1984-1985; ORSA President, 1979

John D. C. Little

John D. C. Little was the first president of INFORMS, the 31st President of TIMS, and the 28th President of ORSA. He is an Institute Professor at MIT and Professor of Management Science at the MIT Sloan School of Management. An MIT graduate both at the S.B. and PhD levels with two years at General Electric in between, he taught at Case Institute of Technology (1957-62) before joining the faculty at MIT in 1962, where he has worked since.

Prof. Little has had a distinguished career spanning five decades. He was awarded the first PhD in Operations Research anywhere. Philip Morse was his major advisor. He published seminal papers in operations research methodology, traffic signal control, decision support systems, and especially marketing. In operations research he is best known for his paper on the queuing formula L = λW, commonly known as Little's Law, which was published in 1961.

Little is considered to be a founder of marketing science. He builds models and analyzes data to support managerial decision making, particularly in marketing. He conducted fundamental research in models of individual choice behavior, adaptive control of promotional spending, and marketing mix models for consumer packaged goods. He was co-editor with Blattberg and Glazer of The Marketing Information Revolution, HBS Press (1994). The John D. C. Little Award is awarded annually by the INFORMS Society for Marketing Science for the best marketing paper in an INFORMS publication.

When the Internet burst on the scene, Little was quickly attracted to e-commerce and co-taught the first course on the subject at the MIT Sloan School. Little also co-founded companies including Management Decisions Systems, Inc, and InSite Marketing Technology, Inc.

Among Little's honors are Fellow of INFORMS (2002), the Kimball Medal (1993), and Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering. He received the Parlin and Converse Awards of the American Marketing Association and the Henry Grady (Buck) Weaver award in Marketing from MIT (2003).

Little describes himself as follows: “I am a dreamer with a New England conscience. It is great to have ideas and visions of what might be, but come Monday morning, you better figure out how to make them happen.”

S.B. (Physics) MIT, 1948; PhD (Operations Research) MIT, 1955; PhD (hon.) University of Liege, Belgium; PhD. (hon.) University of Mons, Belgium; Ph.D. (hon.) London Business School, University of London.

John D. C. Little's Awards