Faculty image Katta Murty Professor Emeritus of Industrial and Operations Engineering IOE




I joined the dept. in Sept. 1968, 42 years ago; and yet time has passed so fast that it seems like only last year.

In Winter 1968, after completing my thesis research at UC, Berkeley, I started job hunting. Soon, I had 5 offers, and we had the problem of deciding which offer to accept, but Michigan’s offer was not the best among them financially. And The weather in the city we came from in India gets very hot, reaching 130F for several weeks in the year. In fact in Telugu, “pleasant weather” means “very cool and comfortable weather”. So, when people said that Michigan gets very cold, it was a big “+” in our minds. Also both my thesis advisors David Gale and George Dantzig got their undergraduate degrees from Michigan, and favored my going to Michigan; and my wife Vijaya was also in favor of taking their advice. That is how we came to A2 in Fall 68.
A2 was a small town with a population of only 40,000 at that time, surrounded by very thick groves of trees, and Fall colors used to be spectacular. It is sad that in only 40 years, many of those trees have disappeared as our population has grown.
During my 1st year in IOE, I noticed that students had difficulties understanding the textbooks at that time. So, I started preparing class notes for my courses. These notes have become so popular that the students gave me the “outstanding faculty member award”, and also suggested that I convert these notes into a textbook.
This led to my 1st textbook “Linear and combinatorial programming” published by Wiley in 1976. It was quite popular, and is available in the market even now. This was followed by 8 others, the latest published in January this year. All the books were well adopted worldwide, and I am sure that these books contributed to the reputation of IOE, and its high ranking.
Right from my 1st year, there were several students interested in theoretical research related to optimization. The dept. used to attract a lot of students from around the world from Iran, Saudi Arabia, Korea,..., Algeria, Brazil, and others; and also domestic students; a sizeable fraction of them used to approach me for thesis research topics. I myself had students from 12 different countries. Generating research topics for these students provided strong motivation for me to actively pursue both theoretical and applied research. That is how I ended up Chairing or Co-chairing 22 Ph. D. graduates in my 42 years as an IOE faculty. The job market for Ph. D. graduates in optimization was good all these years; and all my Ph. D. graduates got jobs soon after completing their thesis research, and all of them are doing very well. In fact one of them is the Rector of a prominent university in his country.
My first research contribution (even before my graduate studies) was the Branch and Bound method for Integer Programming. B&B has undergone so much development at the hands of so many people that now practical size IPs can be solved in reasonable time; and it has become the main method for solving IPs. Another hot research topic at that time, is the wonderful subject linear programming, also one of my research foci. In those days, to solve an LP even with a few hundred constraints used to take a lot of computer time. Now, we routinely solve LPs with thousands of constraints in a few minutes. Personally, this is very satisfying to me. My current research deals with methods that can match this performance without matrix inversion operations.
We have 2 daughters , Vani, a UM graduate who works at Altarum in Ann arbor; and Madhu who went to my almamater, UCB for her studies and now works in NY city.
Me and my wife Vijaya have probably shoveled more snow in A2 over the years than any of you in this room. We had a good time, and we thank you for your frindliness. Though retired now, I will keep trying to add to the dept’s reputation.
Katta G. Murty, Vijya Katta.
20 October 2010.
U of M Libraries | Millennium Project | Contact Us