Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Happy 90th Birthday to Professor Martin Beckmann, Economist, Transportation and Regional Scientist, and Operations Researcher

On July 5th, Professor Martin J. Beckmann, Professor Emeritus of the Department of Economics at Brown University, my alma mater, will be turning 90!

I bought him the birthday card featured on the right in Gothenburg, Sweden yesterday and today wrote him a long letter and posted it to him. I was rather thrilled to find such a perfect card.

I last saw Professor Beckmann in January 2010 at a special symposium organized in his honor by Professor Hani S. Mahmassani at Northwestern University at which the photo below was taken.
Beckmann's presentation at the symposium inspired one of my recent papers, Design of Sustainable Supply Chains for Sustainable Cities,in press in Environment & Planning B, and the follow on paper, Supply Chain Network Sustainability under Competition and Frequencies of Activities from Production to Distribution, co-authored with my former doctoral student, Professor Min Yu of the University of Portland, and my Gothenburg colleague, Professor Jonas Floden, which was published in the journal, Computational Management Science.

Beckmann was on my doctoral dissertation committee at Brown University, along with the chair of my committee, Professor Stella Dafermos, and Professor George Majda. Sadly, Stella died at age 49 and George at age 51, but Martin soldiers on.

I will never forget sharing a delicious Ukrainian torte with him after my dissertation defense and his comments on the Braess paradox during my defense.

I have met Martin on various continents and always treasure our meetings and his brilliance.

When in Australia, just after my first book - Network Economics: A Variational Inequality Approach, was published in 1993 and I handcarried a copy to a conference in Mallacootta (in the outback), I gave a presentation at around 9 o'clock (PM), since we had had a tour. I actually thought that Martin was asleep but then he corrected a missing minus sign on my transparency and he was right - I was speaking on the latest work that I had done with Paul Dupuis on projected dynamical systems. Martin had been traveling the world that year giving talks in many different countries and, as always, enjoying great food, music, culture, sights, and people.

I have created a page on the Supernetwork Center site with information on Beckmann's classic book, Studies in the Economics of Transportation, published in 1956 by Yale University Press, and co-authored with C. Bartlett McGuire (1925-2006) and Christopher B. Winsten (1923-2005). On the page, there are links to presentations and to his book and also photos.

Also, we wrote the paper, D. Boyce,  H. Mahmassani, A. Nagurney (2005),  A retrospective on Beckmann, McGuire and Winsten’s Studies in the Economics of Transportation, Papers in Regional Science 84, 85-103, and a preprint is available here. 

Beckmann's research revolutionized the modeling of travel behavior on congested urban transportation networks and is utilized in transport planning around the world to this day! Its impacts on the understanding of other networks, including electric power generation and distribution networks and even complex logistical networks and supply chains, has been profound.

He is the recipient of numerous well-deserved awards, including the Robert Herman Lifetime Achievement Award in Transportation Science, given by the TS&L Society of INFORMS and being elected a Fellow of the Regional Science Association International (RSAI).

We are indebted to Professor Martin Beckmann for his genius, friendship, and love of life!

Happy 90th Birthday!

And, I just heard from Professor David E. Boyce that today, June 24, is his birthday, so Happy Birthday also to Professor Boyce, another amazing scholar, mentor, and friend to many!