• 1929 May 07
    (b.) - ?


An American applied mathematician and executive, he worked at IBM as a researcher and later as an executive. During that time, his research led to the creation of new areas of applied mathematics. Born in Brooklyn Heights, New York, he received his B.A. from Williams College in 1950, studied at Cambridge University, and received his Ph.D. in mathematics from Princeton University in 1954. He served in the U.S. Navy from 1954 to 1957. While serving in the Navy, he shifted his focus to applied mathematics in operations research. Among his mathematical achievements were founding contributions to the field of integer programming, an active area of research to this day. He was Higgins lecturer and Assistant Professor at Princeton University, 1957-59. He joined the Research Division of IBM in 1959. There, while continuing his significant mathematical work, he also launched a career that helped to establish that company as one of the major research institutions in the world. After eleven years at IBM, he was named Director Of Research and immediately began leading the company in the development of some of the world's most exciting new products and technologies. He continued to play a leadership role for 20 years, eventually being promoted to the position of IBM Senior Vice President for Science and Technology. He was able to develop the very best and brightest minds – IBM researchers were awarded two Nobel Prizes in physics on his watch. He and his staff are credited with many fundamental contributions to advanced technology in such areas as the single-transistor memory cell, high-density storage devices, silicon processing methods, and relational database theory. After reaching the mandatory retirement age of 60 for corporate officers at IBM, he became president of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation in 1989. During his tenure as President he led the foundation's effort to sponsor research in numerous fields relevant to major national issues. The foundation's pioneering work in the field of online learning predated the public Internet; its continued support has resulted in more than three million people taking online courses for credit. The foundation started the now-widespread program of industry studies, and launched a major program advocating a more flexible workplace. It developed a novel and successful approach to overcoming the problem of underrepresented minority Ph.D.'s in scientific and technical fields. The foundation was early in perceiving the threat of bioterrorism and was active in that area for years before the events of 9/11. Among scientific achievements, the foundation supported the widely recognized Sloan Digital Sky Survey, which has made major contributions to the problem of dark energy, and initiated a major worldwide effort to survey life in the oceans known as the Census of Marine Life. Under his leadership the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation also supported highly successful programs on public understanding of science and the development of an innovative graduate degree, the Professional Science Masters, designed to allow students to pursue advanced training in science or mathematics while simultaneously developing workplace skills valued by employers. In December 2007, after 18 years as President of the Sloan Foundation, he became President Emeritus and joined the Stern School of Business at New York University as a research professor. An unassuming man, he does not shy away from embracing controversy or tackling tough issues, either in his role as foundation president or in his personal economic research. He has written extensively on the nature of technology development, industrial competitiveness, models of international trade, and the function of the corporation in a globalizing world. Currently he focuses his work on addressing the increasing complexities of the globalized economy and the differing goals of countries and companies. His 2001 book, co-written with Professor William Baumol, "Global Trade and Conflicting National Interests", has contributed to shaping the national argument on the roles and responsibilities of American corporations in the modern American economy. He currently blogs at The Huffington Post and his work has been profiled in The Nation and The Wall Street Journal. In addition, he has been a trustee of Hampshire College and of Princeton University, and he has been a Director of a number of corporations including The Washington Post Company and the Bank of New York. He is currently a Director of Lexmark International, Inc. He was named one of America's ten best directors by Director's Alert magazine in 2000. He has testified on various occasions to congressional committees. He is a member of the United States National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the American Philosophical Society. He was elected to the governing councils of all three organizations. He is also a fellow of the Econometric Society. He served for many years on the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) and on the National Research Council (NRC) Committee on Science, Engineering, and Public Policy (COSEPUP). He is currently a member of the NRC Board on Science, Technology, and Economic Policy (STEP). He has been awarded eight honorary degrees and many significant awards including the National Medal of Science; Lanchester Prize of the Operations Research Society, 1963; Harry Goode Memorial Award of the American Federation of Information Processing Societies, 1984; John von Neumann Theory Prize of INFORMS, 1984; IRI Medal of the Industrial Research Institute, 1985; National Medal of Science, 1988; IEEE Engineering Leadership Recognition Award, 1988; Arthur M. Bueche Award of the National Academy of Engineering, 1993; the 4th Annual Heinz Award for Technology, the Economy and Employment, 1998;[1] Madison Medal of Princeton University, 1999; Sheffield Fellowship Award of the Yale University Faculty of Engineering, 2000; International Federation of Operational Research Societies' Hall of Fame, 2005; Harold Larnder Prize of the Canadian Operational Research Society, 2006. Additionally, three awards have been established in his honor: The Ralph Gomory Prize of the Business History Conference which recognizes historical work on the effect business enterprises have on the economic conditions of a country in which they operate. Two prizes of $5,000 are awarded annually, one for a book and second for an article; and The National Academy of Science's Award for the Industrial Application of Science, established by the IBM Corporation which is awarded triennially for original scientific work of intrinsic scientific importance and with significant, beneficial applications in industry. In addition, The Ralph E. Gomory Award for Quality Online Education is presented annually by the Sloan Consortium (Sloan-C) to an institution demonstrating commitment to assessing and improving the quality of its online education programs. In addition to the book, "Global Trade and Conflicting National Interests", he has published more than 80 articles on a great variety of subjects including mathematics, economics, the management and impact of science and technology, and the role and function of corporations.
  • Date of Birth:

    1929 May 07
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  • Noted For:

    He and his staff are credited with many fundamental contributions to advanced technology in such areas as the single-transistor memory cell, high-density storage devices, silicon processing methods, and relational database theory
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