Ronald A. Howard

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Ronald Arthur Howard (born August 27, 1934[1]) is a professor in the Department of Engineering-Economic Systems (now the Department of Management Science and Engineering) in the School of Engineering at Stanford University.

Howard directs teaching and research in decision analysis at Stanford and is the Director of the Decisions and Ethics Center,[2] which examines the efficacy and ethics of decision-making under uncertainties. He was a founding Director and Chairman of Strategic Decisions Group.[3] Current research interests are improving the quality of decisions, life-and-death decision-making, and the creation of a coercion-free society.[4] Howard also taught a graduate-level course, "Voluntary Social Systems", which investigated the means of constructing and operating a coercion-free (Libertarian) society.

In 1986 he received the Operations Research Society of America's Frank P. Ramsey Medal "for distinguished contributions in decision analysis".[5] In 1998 he received from the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS) the first award for the teaching of operations research/management science practice. In 1999 INFORMS invited him to give the Omega Rho Distinguished Plenary Lecture at the Cincinnati National Meeting. In the same year he was elected to the National Academy of Engineering, and received the Dean's Award for Academic Excellence.

Howard earned his Sc.D. in Electrical Engineering from MIT in 1958 and was an associate professor there until he joined Stanford in 1965. He pioneered the policy iteration method for solving Markov decision problems, and this method is sometimes called the "Howard policy-improvement algorithm" in his honor.[6] He was also instrumental in the development of the Influence diagram for the graphical analysis of decision situations.


  • 1960. Dynamic Programming and Markov Processes, The M.I.T. Press. OCLC 523881
  • 1971. Dynamic Probabilistic Systems (two volumes), John Wiley & Sons, Inc., New York City.
  • 1977. Readings in Decision Analysis. With Jim E. Matheson (editors). SRI International, Menlo Park, California.
  • 1984. Readings on the Principles and Applications of Decision Analysis. 2 volumes. With Jim E. Matheson (editors). Menlo Park CA: Strategic Decisions Group.
  • 2008. Ethics for the Real World. With Clinton D. Korver. Harvard Business Press. ISBN 978-1-4221-2106-1
  • 2015. "Foundations of Decision Analysis". With Ali Abbas. Pearson.


  1. ^ Howard, Ronald. Studies in Discrete Dynamic Programming, May 19, 1959, p. 107
  2. ^ Ronald A. Howard at the Stanford Decision and Ethics Center
  3. ^ Strategic Decisions Group
  4. ^ [1]
  5. ^ Ronald A. Howard, 1986 Frank P. Ramsey Medal Awardee,
  6. ^ Sargent, T.J., Dynamic Macroeconomic Theory, Harvard Univ. Press, 1987. ISBN 0-674-21877-9. p. 47

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