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Origins of Operations Research: Science at War. E. P. Visco Orlando Chapter of INCOSE 17 March 2011 [with credit to Michael W. Garrambone]. Agenda. Earliest Beginnings & Men of Science From the Civil War to the Great War The Birth of Operations Research

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Origins of Operations Research:Science at War

E. P. Visco

Orlando Chapter of INCOSE

17 March 2011

[with credit to Michael W. Garrambone]

  • Earliest Beginnings & Men of Science
  • From the Civil War to the Great War
  • The Birth of Operations Research
  • World War II & Korea
  • Post War-Korea
  • Insights and Ideas
things that are younger than gene
Things That Are Younger Than Gene
  • The Great Depression, World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War
  • Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover & Ravel’s Bolero
  • Mickey Mouse, Penicillin, Yugoslavia
  • Audrey Hepburn and Sophia Loren(1934), Sean Connery (1930); Regis Philbin (1931); Leonard Nimoy
  • The Empire State Building, Rockefeller Center, the Folger Library, the Jefferson

Memorial, & the National Gallery of Art

  • Color television & commercial television
  • Hammett’s The Maltese Falcon & The Thin Man
  • The Star Spangled Banner as the US national anthem
  • The George Washington Bridge, the Lincoln Tunnel, the Golden Gate Bridge, Hoover/Boulder Dam, Heathrow & JFK airports
  • Jet airplanes, helicopters, & US Navy aircraft carriers
  • Baseball all-star games (1933) & the Baseball Hall of Fame
  • Social Security (1935), minimum wages for women, & the 40-hour work week
  • Life magazine, Nylon, the ballpoint pen, electronic computers, transistors, chips, & magnetic recording tape
  • Withholding income taxes, the atomic bomb & guided missiles
  • The United Nations, NATO, & the Pentagon
the whole story
The Whole Story
  • OR/OA are old
  • Combat analyst was first; some work was at Hq
  • Early: weapons, transport, communications (things)
  • Later tactics, concepts of operation, organization
  • Dominance of Hq analysis
from the dawn of war and science
From the Dawn of War and Science
  • Diades (c. 330 BCE)
  • Archimedes (213-211 BCE)
  • Bacon (1248)
  • Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519)
  • Niccoló Tartaglia (1500-1557)
  • John Napier (1550-1617)
  • Benjamin Franklin (1775)
  • US Civil War (balloon)
  • The Great War (CW, tank)
what was the beginning
What Was The Beginning?
  • WW II?
  • WW I?
  • Diades?
  • Archimedes?
  • 20th Century OR authors
    • Morse & Kimball, 1950
    • Hillier & Lieberman, 1967
    • Wagner, 1975
operational science the great war
Operational ScienceThe Great War
  • Lanchester
    • The Equations: Bah! Humbug!
    • Aircraft in Warfare, 1912-1916
  • Edison
    • Naval Consulting Board
    • >40 ‘ideas’: no impact
  • George Patton, Jr.
    • No combat experience
    • Casualty potential of rifle ammunition
  • A. V. Hill
    • Anti-aircraft gunnery, 1914-18
many men and women
Many Men and Women
  • Adolf Hitler
  • Chamberlain
  • H. E. Wimperis
  • A. P. Rowe
  • Robert Watson-Watt
  • Benito Mussolini
  • Winston Churchill
  • Marconi
  • F. A. Lindemann
  • A. V. Hill
european situation
European Situation

Early 1930s

  • Nazis become second largest political party in Germany
  • Hitler becomes Chancellor
  • Hitler becomes Dictator
  • Hitler becomes Fuhrer
  • Hitler introduces military conscription
  • Sep 1930
  • Jan 1933
  • Mar 1933
  • Aug 1934
  • Mar 1935
the british cause for alarm
The British Cause for Alarm
  • Trends not going well in Europe
  • Germany is rattling swords
  • Germany is building a bomber fleet
  • “The bomber always gets through”Stanley Baldwin, 10 Nov 1932
  • Limited resources for defense
  • Cities in England are:
    • High density population centers
    • High density industrial centers
home land defense
Home Land Defense

European shoreline

1,044 miles

Total shoreline

2,275 miles

Kill/Defend Box

300 x 600 miles

Channel Distances 20 - 250 miles

the committee for the scientific study of air defense
The Committee for the Scientific Study of Air Defense

H. E. Wimperis: Scientific Advisor

Air Ministry

A. P. Rowe: Research Scientist



To consider how far advances in scientific and technical knowledge can be used to strengthen the present methods of defense against hostile aircraft

criteria for committee selection
Criteria for Committee Selection
  • Have recognition as an eminent scientist
  • Be of strong character
  • Have capacity for making decisions
  • Have “natural sympathy for and identification with, “military men”
  • Able to provide a mutual give and take between serving officers and scientists

E. V. Appleton--Greatest English expert on propagation of Radio Waves

the tizard committee

Lord P. M. S. Blackett

1948 Nobel PrizePhysics

Sir A. V. Hill1922 Nobel PrizeMedicine

The Tizard Committee



Military Pilot

Orthodox(Conservative)Army Officer

Anti-Aircraft Gunnery



Naval Officer

28 Jan 1935

sir henry t tizard 1885 1959
Sir Henry T. Tizard1885-1959
  • Education: Westminster & Oxford (Rutherford’s Student)
  • Fellow of the Royal Society (Physics)
  • Secretary, Dept of Scientific & Industrial Research
  • Rector, Imperial College of Science and Technology (1929)
  • Chairman of the Tizard Committee (28 Jan 1935)

“The best scientific mind that … England ever applied ... to war”

C. P. Snow, Science and Government, 1960

p m s blackett 1897 1974 patrick maynard stuart
P. M. S. Blackett(1897-1974) (Patrick Maynard Stuart)
  • Education: Royal Naval College, University of Cambridge
  • WW II, chief advisor on “operational research” British Navy
  • Nobel Prize (physics) 1948 for research in cosmic rays
  • Professor of physics at the Imperial College of Science and Technology of the University of London (1953-65).
  • Author, Atomic Weapons and East-West Relations (1956) and Studies of War (1962)

“The British father of Operations Research”

an inquiry to science
An Inquiry to Science
  • From: Air Ministry
  • To: The (National Physical Laboratory)
    • Is it possible to create some form of “death ray” using a radio beam to disable remote targets?
  • From: The Radio Research Lab (National Physical Laboratory)
  • To: Air Ministry
    • No, but we may be able to detect aircraft using radio methods
able to provide a mutual give and take between serving officers and scientists
Able to provide a mutual give and take between serving officers and scientists

Air Marshal Dowding

Professor Tizard

the pairing of teams
The Pairing of Teams
  • Bawdsey Station (radar research and testing)
    • Scientists & engineers
    • Serving officers
    • Finding blips on the screen
  • Biggin Hill Experiment (Fighter Intercept)
    • Serving officers
    • Scientists & engineers
    • Finding the target
    • Voice from the “Box”
    • “Tizzy Equations”
    • Fighter Command OR Section
chain home radar 1935
Chain Home Radar (1935)

Air Ministry Experimental Stations

(AMES 1)


Early Command & Control

Operations in the Filter Room

(plotting, filtering, telling)

Operational Control at Fighter Command

situation of the late 1930 s
Situation of the Late 1930’s
  • Mar 1936 Germany takes Rhineland
  • May 1936 Mussolini takes Ethiopia
  • Sep 1938 Hitler appeased at Munich
  • Oct 1938 Germany takes Sudetenland
  • Mar 1939 Germany takes Czech.
  • Sep 1939 Germany takes Poland
improvements in defense 1939
Improvements in Defense (1939)
  • 20 Stations
  • RAF trained at Bawdsey station
  • See A/C 15,000’, 100 miles
  • Fighter intercept from Biggin Hill
  • Chain Home Low
  • Airborne Radar
results of the tizard committee
Results of the Tizard Committee
  • Determined the range, bearing, and elevation of non- cooperative targets
  • Provided friendly signal marks for our own aircraft
  • Introduced concept of information fusion and ground control intercept
  • Gave aircraft the ability to hunt in black space
  • Made possible submarine detection at night
  • Intro “blind” navigation, provided “magic eye” for A/C
  • Improved accuracy for air defense weapons
  • Created the radio fuze
  • Made effective use of the fighter force (Battle of Britain, beginning 10 July 1940)

Paid a terrible price

patrick maynard stuart blackett 1897 1974
Patrick Maynard Stuart Blackett(1897-1974)
  • WWI Battles
    • Falkand Island
    • Jutland
  • Education: Royal Naval College, University of Cambridge
  • WW II, chief advisor on “operational research” British Navy
  • Nobel Prize (physics) 1948 (cosmic rays)

“The British Father of Operations Research”

operational research
Operational Research
  • “Scientists at the Operational Level”

“… very many war operations involve considerations with which scientists are specially trained to compete, and in which serving officers are in general not trained.”

  • Note on Certain Aspects of the Methodology of Operational Research

“In the course of repeated operations … most of the possible variations of tactics will be effectively explored ... derivatives will eventually be discovered and ... improved tactics will become generally adopted.”

blackett s influence at bomber command
Blackett’s Influence at Bomber Command
  • Limited # bombers
  • Land bombing
  • Against submarines
  • Confrontation
coastal command analyses
Coastal CommandAnalyses
  • Open Research on
    • Targets
    • Weapons
    • Tactics
    • Equipment
    • Strategy
  • Effectiveness of Air Attacks

Short Sunderland

blackett s circus 10 at anti aircraft command
Blackett’s Circus (10)at Anti Aircraft Command
  • Three physiologists
  • Two mathematicians
  • One Army officer
  • Two mathematical physicists
  • One surveyor
  • One general physicist
contributions to anti aircraft command
Contributionsto Anti Aircraft Command
  • Gun-Laying Radar
  • Apportionment
  • Maintenance
  • Training
  • Togetherness
  • Effectiveness


p m s blackett s or thoughts
P. M. S. Blackett’s OR Thoughts
  • For Military--you have to think scientifically about your own operations
  • For Scientists--sound military advice only comes when the giver convinces himself that if he were responsible for action, he would act so himself
scope of operational research
Scope of Operational Research
  • “Clearest lessons of war experience”

“… really big successes of operational research groups are often achieved by the discovery of problems which had not hitherto been recognized as significant.”

Recollections of Problems Studied

  • “How can OR help”
    • “Operations research groups can help to close the gap between the new instrument or weapons as developed in the R&D establishments and its use in the actual conditions of war.”
birthing in the us
Birthing in the US
  • Mine Warfare ORG
    • Degaussing @ Pearl, 7 Dec 41
    • Wargaming
    • Mine-laying
  • Anti-Submarine Warfare ORG
    • Early emphasis on Atlantic
  • Army Air Forces OA
    • 26 Sections
    • 250 analysts
  • Office of Field Service, OSRD
    • Emphasis on Pacific
    • Operation Starvation
adoption of or by us forces
Adoption of OR by US Forces
  • Navy was first
  • MAJ Leach, AAF
  • “Hap” Arnold
  • AAF
  • Eighth Air Force
first aaf oa section
First AAF OA Section
  • 8th Bomber Command, Oct 42
  • Chief: John Harlan
  • Others: Arps, Alexander, Tuttle, Youden, Robertson
  • Reported to Gen Eaker
  • Worked for CoS
  • Access to all information
  • “How can I put twice as many bombs on my targets?”
some projects accomplishments
Some Projects & Accomplishments
  • Improved bombs on target
  • Bomb on lead bombardier
  • Radar countermeasures
  • Improved estimates of force requirements
  • ‘Position Firing’ for aerial gunners
  • Stabilization of dust on African air fields
  • Operation STARVATION
bombing tactics



Bombing Tactics

Problem: Three bombing (sighting) techniques: 1. drop on group leader, 2. drop on squadron leader, 3. independent sighting

Question: What is the “best” technique?

Technique Percent

On Group Leader

On Squadron Leader


bombing tactics1



Bombing Tactics

Problem: Three bombing (sighting) techniques: 1. drop on group leader, 2. drop on squadron leader, 3. independent sighting

Question: What is the “best” technique?

Technique Percent

On Group Leader 24 %

On Squadron Leader 11.8 %

Independent 8.3 %

9th army air force
9th Army Air Force
  • Nick Smith, junior analyst
  • Rail cutting algorithm
  • “No Ball” targets
some results of rail cutting impact on overlord
Some Results of Rail Cutting:Impact on Overlord
  • 2nd SS Panzer Division: 17 days/450 miles
  • Battle Group, 275th Infantry Division: 3 days/30 miles + 3 more days to reach front
  • 2 Infantry Battalions arrived on bicycles
shipbuilding merchant ships or escort ships
Shipbuilding : Merchant Ships or Escort Ships
  • Problem: Increase movement of war time supplies: limited shipbuilding capacity
  • Question: Build more merchant or more escort ships
  • Each escort ship saves 2 to 3 merchant ships per year
  • Faster convoy speed decreases convoy losses
  • Increased convoy size decreases ship losses significantly
  • Air escort protection decreases submarine effectiveness
operation starvation 1945
Operation Starvation, 1945
  • LCDR Ellis Johnson, MWORG: “Mines are Weapons of Strategy”
  • ADM Nimitz & MG LeMay (21st Bomber Command)
  • 21,000 sea mines laid; 4323 sorties
  • 5.7% of B-29 sorties
  • 961 Japanese ships damaged or sunk (2 million tons)
us successes

Operations Research

US Successes
  • Convoy Protection
  • Submarine Search
  • Surface Ship Detection
  • Denial of Sea Lanes


Army Air Force


  • Bomb Accuracy
  • Bomb Selection
  • Pursuit Tactics
  • Radar Employment
  • Jungle Warfare
  • Amphibious Opns
  • Artillery Accuracy
  • Ballistics






immediate post wwii
Immediate Post WWII
  • Operations Evaluation Group (OEG)
    • WWII continuity
  • The RAND Corporation
    • Defense of the nation
    • Siting of air bases
  • The Johns Hopkins University Operations Research Office
    • The Army in the field
    • Korea
  • HQ, USAF Operations Analysis
  • Weapons System Evaluation Group
combat analyst after world war ii
Combat Analyst After World War II
  • Korea
    • ORO + Canadian + UK
    • OEG (the fleets)
  • Vietnam
    • Army Concept Team
    • ARCOV
    • MACOV
other early institutions
Other Early Institutions
  • Private sector (for profit)
    • Technical Operations, Inc.
    • Arthur D. Little, Inc.
    • Melpar, Inc.
    • Ramo-Wooldridge Corp.
    • Lockheed
  • Universities
    • The Johns Hopkins University
    • Case Institute of Technology
    • MIT
    • ...
the combat analyst since vietnam
The Combat Analyst Since Vietnam
  • Gulf War
    • CENTCOM Hq team (staff)
    • DNA WMD effects team
    • No US operations analysts deployed until after the fighting
    • 1st UK Armoured Div OR team
  • Former Yugoslavia
    • ARRC UK team
what or analysts do
What OR Analysts Do

E. C. Williams

  • Analyze the results of operations or exercises to determine the effectiveness of tactics, the influence of weapons on tactics and the tactics on weapons
  • Predict the results of future operations
  • Analyze the efficiency of organizations or methods
  • Determine the operational effectiveness of weapons and equipment
characteristic of outstanding military operations research analysts
Characteristic of Outstanding Military Operations Research Analysts
  • Has historical, tactical, and technical expertise
  • Is an outstanding gatherer, coordinator, and gifted speaker
  • Has potent mathematical, logic, & Operations Research skills
  • Uses superb imagination, graphic and artistic skills
  • Demonstrates overwhelming quantities of persistence and determination
  • Likes to drink beer (especially Guinness Stout)

Happiness is being assigned as an “Operations Research Analyst”

operations research
Operations Research

Sir Henry Tizard and General Sir Bernard Montgomery

some of the trails
Some of the Trails
  • Wayne P. Hughes, Jr, ed, Military Modeling for Decisions, Military Operations Research Society, 1997
  • Philip M. Morse & George E. Kimball, Methods of Operations Research,Military Operations Research Society, 1998 (reprint)
  • James Pinney Baxter III, Scientists Against Time, Little, Brown & Company, 1948
  • R. V. Jones, The Wizard War, Coward, McCann & Geoghegan, 1978
  • Charles P. Snow, Science and Government, Harvard University Press, 1961
  • P. M.S. Blackett , Studies of War. Nuclear and Conventional, Hill &Wang, 1962
  • Ronald W. Clark, Tizard. The MIT Press, 1963
  • David Zimmerman, Top Secret Exchange, The Tizard Mission and the

Scientific War, McGill-Queens University Press, 1996

more of the trails
More of the Trails
  • Ronald W. Clark, The Rise of the Boffins. Phoenix House LTD,1962
  • Air Ministry. Origins and Development of Operational Research in the Royal Air Force. Her Majesty ’s Stationary Office,1949
  • A. P. Rowe, One Story of Radar. Cambridge University Press, 1948
  • J. G. Crowther, Statesmen of Science, The Cresset Press, 1965
  • Keith R. Tidman, The Operations Evaluation Group: A History of Naval Operations Analysis, Naval Institute, 1984
  • Bernard Osgood Koopman, Search and Screening: General Principles with Historical Applications,Military Operations Research Society, 1946 (reprint )
  • Charles M. Sternhell & Alan M. Thorndike, Antisubmarine Warfare in World War II, Aegean Park Press, 1947 (reprint)
  • J. G. Crowther & R. Whiddington, Science at War, Philosophical Library Inc., 1948
  • Charles R. Shrader, History of Operations Research in the United States Army: Volume I: 1942-1962; Volume II: 1961-1973; Volume III: 1973-1995, Government Printing Office
comments and query
Comments and Query
  • US analysts now seen as needed in the field: Iraq & Afghanistan
  • What we do now does not resemble what they did then!
  • Either what we do now is not operations research or operations research is defined so loosely than any logical analytic process is operations research!
  • What do you think is the correct answer?
some homilies
Some Homilies
  • I think the essential prerequisite of sound military advice is that the giver must convince himself that if he were responsible for action, he would himself act so.
  • The first thing is to realize in war we have to do not so much with numbers, arms and maneuvers, as with human nature.
  • Read, specially military history. Have fun at what you do.
  • What to read?
    • C. P. Snow
    • Blackett
    • Neustadt & May
    • John Keegan
    • Ernest & Trevor Dupuy
    • S. L. A. Marshall
    • McCloskey & Trefethen
    • McCloskey & Coppinger
    • McCue
    • Anything on nonlinearity, etc.
thanks for listening
Thanks for Listening
  • Those of you who stayed awake may have learned something new
  • Those of you who dozed off didn’t miss much
  • Stay awake for the second show!
the party s over
The Party’s Over
  • The second show starts now…!