Dietrich, Brenda (IBM Research)

Brenda L. Dietrich

Brenda Dietrich
Arthur and Helen Geoffrion Professor of Practice 
Cornell University
115 Cherry Rd
Ithaca, NY

Phone: 607-255-5388


Riding Technology Waves: Perspectives and Opportunities for Operations Research

This talk begins with a fly-by of almost six decades of information technology beginning with its use to automate business processes and extending to its current role in consumer self-service, the internet of things, and in intermediating social processes. The resulting “data exhaust” together with the availability of low cost computing capacity spawned the age of analytics, the rise of big data, the birth of cognitive computing and the reinvigoration of artificial intelligence. The past, current and potential role of analytic methods in these technology waves will be discussed, with focus on the opportunity to use analytics and automation to create new data. Areas in need of further study by the Operations Research community will be highlighted.


  • BS in Mathematics, University of North Carolina
  • MS in OR/IE, Cornell University
  • Ph.D. in OR/IE, Cornell University

Brenda Dietrich is the Arthur and Helen Geoffrion Professor of Practice of Operations Research and Information Engineering at Cornell University.  Previously she was an IBM Fellow and Vice President. She holds a BS in Mathematics with highest honors from UNC and an MS and Ph.D. in OR/IE from Cornell. She joined IBM in 1984 and has worked in the area now called analytics and/or data science for her entire career.  She, and teams she managed, applied data and computation to business decision processes throughout IBM and for IBM clients.  For over a decade she led the Mathematical Sciences function in the IBM Research division where she was responsible for both basic research on computational mathematics and for the development of novel applications of mathematics for both IBM and its clients.  In her tenue as Director of Mathematical Sciences she launched the COIN-OR open source initiative, which was awarded the INFORMS Impact Prize in 2014.  While at IBM she also served as the Chief Technology Officer and Strategist for IBM’s Business Analytics group and led Emerging Technologies in the IBM Watson Group.   In addition to her IBM work, she has been the president of INFORMS, has served on the Board of Trustees of SIAM, and is a member of several university advisory boards. She was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 2014.