Jay Wright Forrester (born 14 July 1918, Climax, Nebraska) is a pioneer American computer engineer, systems scientist and was professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management. Forrester is known as the founder of System Dynamics, which deals with the simulation of interactions between objects in dynamic systems.
After finishing the University in 1939 he went to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, to become a research assistant and eventually spent his entire career. In his first year at MIT he was commandeered by Gordon S. Brown who was the pioneer in "feedback control systems" at MIT. During World War II his work with Gordon Brown was in developing servomechanisms for the control of radar antennas and gun mounts. This work was research toward an extremely practical end that ran from mathematical theory to the operating field. Experimental units were installed on the USS Lexington, and, when they stopped working, he volunteered to go to Pearl Harbor in 1942. He fixed the problem when the ship sailed off-shore during the invasion of Tarawa.
At the end of the war at MIT Forrester in 1944 started a project building of an aircraft flight simulator. The aircraft simulator was planned as an analog computer, but became the Whirlwind digital computer for experimental development of military combat information systems. This eventually became the SAGE (Semi-Automatic Ground Environment) air defense system for North America. Around 1949, the Navy was losing interest in Whirlwind and considered scrapping it. But that August, the Soviet Union detonated its first atomic bomb. Relations between the U.S. and its former ally had so deteriorated that this event inspired worry and alarm throughout the government. People in the military realized that computers would be essential in the defense of the country now that the USSR had the capacity to attack from afar. Whirlwind, as the Navy's most advanced computer, suddenly looked good again. Forrester continued his research in electrical and computer engineering until 1956. By then he felt the pioneering days in digital computers were over and he left engineering to go into management.
In 1956, Forrester moved to the MIT Sloan School of Management, where he is currently Germeshausen Professor Emeritus and Senior Lecturer. But applying his engineering view of electrical systems to the field of human systems would break new ground. Forrester focused on concrete experimental studies of organizational policy. He used computer simulations to analyze social systems and predict the implications of different models. This method came to be called "system dynamics," and Forrester came to be recognized as its creator.
During the 1940s and early 1950s, Forrester did research in electrical and computer engineering, heading the Whirlwind project and developing the "Multi-coordinate digitally information storage device" (coincident-current system), the forerunner of today's RAM. He is believed to have created the first animation in the history of computer graphics, a "jumping ball" on an oscilloscope.
Originally, industrial dynamics encompassed the study of the different variables characterizing industries (such as entry/exit, penetration-rate, innovation rate, R&D expenses, number of patents), and their comparison from one period to another. Though these initial developments included important elements related to the quantitative functioning of industries, it is nowadays largely accepted that the early contributions often neglected the genuine determinants of the evolution of innovative industries.
Industrial Dynamics (1961) was the first book Forrester wrote using System Dynamics to analyze industrial business cycles.
Articles and papers, a selection:
The Philadelphia Inquirer Stephen A. Smith column: Jay Wright: Reasons for the Cats' success? Look to the coach.(Villanova University Wildcats coach Jay Wright)(Column)
Mar 04, 2007; Byline: Stephen A. Smith Mar. 4--If you're one of those pessimists in desperate need of anything from a few positive words to...
MINNEAPOLIS REGIONAL; Small ball, big gains; Injuries forced Villanova coach Jay Wright to start four guards, not knowing his solution would create such problems for opponents.(SPORTS)
Mar 22, 2006; Byline: Jeff Shelman; Staff Writer Philadelphia, Pa. -- The word Jay Wright used was stopgap. That's all the Villanova men's...
The Philadelphia Inquirer Phil Sheridan column: nation is learning what his players know - Wright is real deal.(head coach Jay Wright)(Column)
Mar 26, 2006; Byline: Phil Sheridan Mar. 26--MINNEAPOLIS -- You go in thinking Jay Wright is just too good to be true. You come away convinced...