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Bio

Ralph E. Gomory is the son of Andrew L. Gomory and Marian Schellenberg Gomory. 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 in the Navy, he became interested in the mathematics of 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 joned the Research Division of IBM in 1959.

At IBM, while continuing his significant mathematical work, he helped to establish that company as one of the major research institutions in the world. In 1970 he was named Director of Research of IBM. He continued in a leadership role for the next 20 years as Director of Research and eventually IBM Senior Vice President for Science and Technology.

During his tenure the Research Division made many fundamental contributions to advanced technology in such areas as the single-transistor memory cell, high-density storage devices, silicon processing methods, and the invention of the relational database and the RISC computer architecture. His researchers also won two successive Nobel Prizes in Physics and it was there that Benoit Mandelbrot invented the concept of Fractals.

On reaching the mandatory retirement age of 60 for corporate officers at IBM, Gomory became president of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation in 1989.

During his 18 years as president, the foundation sponsored research relevant to many 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 seven million people taking online courses for credit annually. 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 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 several years before the events of 9/11.  These studies of dangerous microbial agents then blossomed into the field known today as the microbiology of the built environmentvc (MBE). Among other 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. The 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,  Gomory became president emeritus and joined the Stern School of Business at New York University as a research professor.

Currently, Gomory does research on the 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, raised the question of the roles and responsibilities of American corporations in a world where national economic interests may be in conflict.

Gomory currently blogs at The Huffington Post and The Hill.   His work has appeared in The Nation and the Wall Street Journal  and in a wide  range of academic publications.

Other Activities:

Gomory has been a trustee of Hampshire College and of Princeton University. He has been a director of several well know corporations including The Washington Post Company and the Bank of New York. 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.

Gomory was elected to the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the American Philosophical Society. He served on the governing councils of all three organizations. He is also a fellow of the Econometric Society.

Gomory served on the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) under Presidents Reagan, George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush. For more than a decade he served 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).

Awards and Honors

Gomory has been awarded seven honorary degrees and many significant awards including the National Medal of Science.

Awards:

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; Medal of the Industrial Research Society, 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; 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.

Honorary Degrees:

Carnegie Mellon University,   Eindhoven University (Netherlands),  University  of Montreal  (Canada) , Pace University, Polytechnic University (Now the Tandon School of Engineering at NYU), Williams College, and Worcester Polytechnic Institute.

 

In addition to the book Global Trade and Conflicting National Interests, Gomory has published more than 100 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.