Memorial Tributes: Volume 26
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  • ALAN S. MANNE (1925-2005)



    ALAN SUSSMANN MANNE, professor emeritus of operations research at Stanford University, was elected to the NAE in 1990. He died September 27, 2005, at the age of 80.

    An only child, he was born May 1, 1925, in New York City, to Isidor and Ruth (Liberman) Manne. Alan was a gifted student and, after graduating in three years from the Townsend Harris High School in New York City, he studied at the City College of New York for two years and then transferred to Harvard where, as a member of the class of 1944, he obtained his bachelor’s degree in economics magna cum laude in 1943 at age 18 and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. He served in the US Navy as a gunnery officer from 1944 through June 1946, when he received an honorable discharge as a lieutenant (jg). He returned to Harvard and earned his AM (1948) and PhD (1950), both in economics.

    He married Jacqueline (Jackie) Merril Copp in 1954, and they remained married until the end of his life.

    In his early career Alan was an instructor of economics at Harvard (1950–52), economic analyst at the RAND Corporation (1952–56), and associate professor of economics at Yale (1956–61) before joining the Department of Economics and Stanford Graduate School of Business in 1961 as professor; in 1967 he became professor of operations research. In 1974 he returned to Harvard as professor of political economy but two years later rejoined the Stanford faculty as professor of operations research (in the School of Engineering), an appointment he held until he retired as professor emeritus in 1992, when he remained active in research and publishing through 2004. He worked closely with his students and supervised 34 of them in their doctoral studies over his career. Many remained close and loyal colleagues throughout his life.

    His publications include seven books (three of them coedited) and 128 articles. The first article, “Some notes on the acceleration principle,” appeared in 1945 and was based on a portion of his undergraduate honors thesis.1 From the 1950s onward, his scholarly work concentrated on petroleum refining, economic development, energy models, climate change analysis, economic equilibrium models, and solution methods.

    Mathematical models are key in much of his research; linear programming and mixed-integer linear programming figure prominently among them. An added benefit was that his models were always characterized by sparsity. He did not believe in having more details than were necessary to show the essential elements of the issue, and this approach facilitated insight from the models. The important interactions were relatively transparent, clearly showing the basis of the results.

    Alan was a forerunner in work addressing computational difficulties (e.g., high dimensionality and many constraints, stochastic relationships) while focusing on mathematical models and methods aimed at solving real-world applications. For example, he was a pioneer in energy modeling, from the individual refinery level to the macroeconomic level. His modeling helped pave the way for less environmentally harmful means of providing energy for modern economies. 

    His early work focused on analysis of petroleum refining, beginning with his doctoral dissertation, Petroleum Refining: A Case Study in Joint Supply, supervised by Dean Edward Mason and Wassily Leontief (NAS) at Harvard. He subsequently broke ground in showing how mathematical programming models could be used to guide the operations of an oil refinery. His important monograph, Scheduling of Petroleum Refinery Operations (Harvard, 1956), completed while he was an economic analyst at the RAND Corporation (1952–56), illustrates this work.

    Later work presented optimization modeling for capital investments in expansion of the electric system, looking ahead to expected growth patterns. His energy technology assessment (ETA) model showed that optimization concepts could be used to assess the needs for and value of various energy technologies, such as nuclear power. His classic paper, “Waiting for the Breeder,”2 examined the optimal mix of electricity generating plants, recognizing that a backstop technology—e.g., breeder reactors—would become available at some uncertain future time. Sequential linear programming was the basis for the underlying model. ETA evolved into ETA-Macro3 to estimate the link from the energy sector to the overall economy and vice versa. Alan created a dynamic nonlinear optimization model, linking his ETA model to a dynamic macroeconomic growth model.

    Each of these models relied on operations research concepts, such as linear or nonlinear programming or dynamic optimization, and each led to deep insights. Importantly, his modeling ideas were later integrated into the energy system models developed by many other modelers or modeling teams. For example, his refinery modeling led, over years, to the development of complex models that are central to automatic control of modern oil refineries. His ETA-macro model influenced the later development of the integrated assessment models central to today’s analysis of global climate change economics.

    Alan’s interest in energy policy and economics extended beyond the United States. He applied his work on electricity expansion planning and on optimization of the electricity generation system to the Mexican system and thus helped guide Mexican economic development. This work led to the 1973 Frederick W. Lanchester Prize of the Operations Research Society of America for the best operations research publication written in English for his book (coedited with Louis M. Goreux) on multilevel industrial resource planning models in Mexico.4 He later applied mathematical modeling to the economic development of two other nations: India and Turkey. And his study (with Richard Richels) of the economic impact of international efforts to lower greenhouse gases looked at the costs of the Kyoto Protocol and helped lead to its successful adoption in numerous countries.5

    In his publications, Alan was a strong believer in the clear communication of ideas, avoidance of technical jargon, and recognition of advantages and shortcomings of diverse approaches to the subject at hand. He also extended warm credit to his mentors, colleagues, students, staff, and others, sometimes with self-effacing humor, as in the preface to his first book where he thanks his “wife, Jacqueline, who was willing to combine a courtship with the proof-reading of these pages.”

    For the National Academies, he served on the Panel on Integration of Socioeconomic Criteria into the Site Selection Process for a High-Level Radioactive Waste Repository (1980–83).

    In addition to his election to Phi Beta Kappa and the NAE, Alan was a fellow of the Econometric Society (1960), the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (1986), and INFORMS (2002). Other honors included the Harold Larnder Prize of the Canadian Operational Research Society (1995) and the Paul Frankel Award of the US Association for Energy Economics (1998). And he received honorary degrees from Göteburg University (1988) and University of Geneva (1998).

    His personal interests included Impressionist art, classical music, travel, learning languages, and reading history. At about age 60, he developed a love of horseback riding. Soon after his retirement, he began playing polo, and later took up horseback hunting and jumping. As Jackie said about his death from cardiac arrest while out riding, “he died doing the thing he loved best.”

    Jackie died April 9, 2015. She and Alan are survived by their children Edward and Henry (both in Israel), Elizabeth (of New York City), 11 grandchildren, and 34 great-grandchildren. 


    1Manne AS. 1945. Some notes on the acceleration principle. Review of Economics and Statistics 27(2):93–99.
    2In Review of Economic Studies 41:47–65 (1974).
    3Manne AS. 1977. ETA-MACRO: A Model of Energy-Economy Interactions. Technical Report EA-592. Electric Power Research Institute.
    4Goreux LM, Manne AS, eds. 1973. Multi-Level Planning: Case Studies in Mexico. American Elsevier Publishing Company.
    5Manne AS, Richels RG. 1992. Buying Greenhouse Insurance: The Economics Costs of Carbon Dioxide Emission Limits. MIT Press.