Once I found a site on the web containing some classic, original material from around the WW II. One of the topics covered was submarine hunting. But I cannot find that again now ...

So the question is: Where can I find original documents, especially applied ones, from that period? Preferably web sites, but failing that, other options are good. Also of interest are references to particularly illuminating documents from that period. I found the paper British Operational Research in World War II by Joseph F. McCloskey, Operations Research, Vol. 35, No. 3 (May - Jun., 1987), pp. 453-470 (on JSTOR.)


6 Answers 6


A few suggestions.
First, the series by Charles R. Shrader from the US Army Center of Military History.

[1] History of Operations Research in the United States Army, Volume 1: 1942–1962. (full text or also here or here)

[2] History of Operations Research in the United States Army, Volume 2: 1961–1973. (full text)

[3] History of Operations Research in the United States Army, Volume 3: 1973–1995. (full text)

There is also a 1987 paper by Joseph F. McCloskey in Operations Research (Vol 35, No 6, pp. 910-925). You might find it helpful, especially its references.

[4] U.S. Operations Research in World War II (stable link)

For a current perspective on operational use and allocation of OR analysts, I recommend COL(ret.) Greg Parlier's whitepaper from 2015 for the Association of the US Army's Land Warfare Papers (No 105W).

[5] Operations Research and the United States Army: A 75th Anniversary Perspective (full text)

[6] An Historical Perspective on U.S. Army Operations Research (stable link)

I have a few more. I'll try and dig them up.

  • $\begingroup$ I would have liked to accept all the answers ... $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 4, 2020 at 1:20

I love this historic piece by Alexander Schrijver about max flow and min cut (DOI link).


THE classic book on WW II Operations Research is "Methods of Operations Research" by Philip M. Morse, George E. Kimball. It is basically WW II O.R., less classified material.

The Dover Press version is a reprint, with intro from Saul Gass, of the original 1951 version.

The MIT Press version is the 1959 revised edition.

Edit: Stanford O.R. Ph.D. and Professor, 2019 Philip McCord Morse Lectureship Award winner, Peter Glynn just scored a copy.

Philip McCord Morse Lectureship Award

The award is \$2,000, a certificate, a travel fund of \$5,000, a copy of Morse's autobiography, In at the Beginnings: A Physicist's Life, and a copy of Morse and Kimball's Methods of Operations Research.


About the "submarine hunting", if "ANTISUBMARINE WARFARE IN WORLD WAR II" is not the link you had in mind, it still might be useful.

Also, I found some of the links in "History of OR", the example in this pdf, and some of the links in the "second world war" section of Operations Research Wikipedia page, fascinating.


Not a written document, but maybe interesting: an episode of the INFORMS podcast, Looking Back at the Origins of O.R. on "the first time the term Operations Research was employed, and some of the earliest applications of O.R. during World War II".


I really like this excerpt from Philip Morse's biography:


He doesn't go deep into methods, but he does discuss OR in WWII, including submarine-related problems.


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.