Who Was Bernard Koopman?



>Bernard Osgood Koopman was a founding member of ORSA and a featured speaker at the society's initial meeting in 1952. He was awarded the Kimball Medal in 1980 in recognition of his dedicated service to the OR profession. His special interest in military OR earned him the 1979 Wander Award of the Military Operations Research Society.

Dr. Koopman's career in OR began in 1943 when Philip Morse invited him to join the Operations Research Group of the U.S. Navy in Washington. His now-famous work on search and screening began at ORG, and led to the publication of his work by the Navy in 1946. The publication of Search and Screening by Persimmon Press in 1980 marked Dr. Koopman's lifelong interest in this area.

Dr. Koopman received his Ph.D. (Mathematics) in 1926 from Columbia University, and spent his entire professional career as a member of its faculty of mathematics. He was appointed to the prestigious Adrian professorship in 1955, and served as department chair from 1951-56. Dr. Koopman returned to Columbia as a full professor after World War II. As an active OR consultant, he had long and fruitful associations with the Center for Naval Analyses, Institute for Defense Analyses (IDA), and A.D. Little, Inc.

He spent the 1956-57 and 1964-65 academic years on leave from Columbia working at IDA. During his 1959-61 sojourn in London, he was the OR liaison between the U.S. Department of Defense, the U.K. military establishment, and NATO; he played a critical role in introducing operations research as a permanent NATO activity.

Dr. Koopman spent his youth in France and Italy. Upon the death of his father, his family returned to the United States in 1915 and settled in New England. He earned his B.S. in mathematics from Harvard in 1922. Initially, he focused on dynamics and mathematical physics, completing his dissertation in dynamics under George Birkhoff. Later, especially as the result of travels to Europe, he developed an interest in probability theory. He began his teaching career as a Benjamin Pierce Instructor at Harvard, and spent a postdoctoral year at Princeton before returning to New York.
Dr. Koopman was born in 1900 and died in 1981.

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