INFORMS recognizes Saaty with Impact Prize

October 20, 2008

The Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS®) today announced that Professor Thomas L. Saaty of the University of Pittsburgh, the theoretician who invented the Analytic Hierarchy Process (AHP), a breakthrough decision-making system, is the 2008 recipient of the INFORMS Impact Prize.

"AHP has revolutionized how we resolve complex decision problems," the INFORMS award committee wrote in its presentation.

The INFORMS Impact Prize, awarded once every two years, recognizes contributions that have had a broad practical impact on operations research and related fields like the decision sciences. The contribution can be an idea or technique that is widely used.

The Analytic Hierarchy Process (AHP) is used extensively in business and government, counting among its fans the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the U.S. Navy and Air Force, and, in business, Johnson & Johnson and eBay, according to Decision Lens, an AHP-based software company where Saaty serves as a member of its Board of Advisors.

The Analytic Hierarchy Process is a methodology for helping decision makers to make complex, multi-criteria decisions.

Professor Saaty developed AHP based on his work at the U. S. State Department's Arms Control and Disarmament Agency during the Kennedy and Johnson administrations. He recognized that then-current techniques for resolving complex decision problems were deficient in both mathematical rigor and relevance to real-world decision-making. His early AHP research dealt with how multi-criteria, decision-making problems could be structured as goal seeking hierarchies.

For AHP, he developed key mathematical theories that paired comparisons with ratio-scale weights to prioritize decision criteria and alternatives. In AHP-based decisions, final weights allow alternatives to be compared and ranked.

In 1977, Professor Saaty published his paper that developed a scaling method for priorities in hierarchical structures; in 1977 he also published in Interfaces, an INFORMS journal, the first reported application for ranking infrastructure projects. Since then there have been numerous applications of AHP. The publication of his textbook titled The Analytic Hierarchy Process in 1980 and the release of the PC-based software titled Expert Choice in 1983 has led to widespread dissemination of the process.
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The INFORMS Impact Prize was presented earlier this month at the INFORMS annual meeting in Washington, DC. Over 4,000 academics and professionals attended the annual conference.

About INFORMS

The Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS®) is an international scientific society with 10,000 members, including Nobel Prize laureates, dedicated to applying scientific methods to help improve decision-making, management, and operations. Members of INFORMS work in business, government, and academia. They are represented in fields as diverse as airlines, health care, law enforcement, the military, financial engineering, and telecommunications. The INFORMS website is www.informs.org. More information about operations research is at www.scienceofbetter.org.

Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences

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