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J. Michael Harrison

J. Michael Harrison
Professor Emeritus, Operations, Information & Technology
Adams Distinguished Professor of Management, Emeritus

Research Statement

Michael Harrison has developed and analyzed stochastic models in several different domains related to business, including mathematical finance and processing network theory. His current research is focused on dynamic models of resource sharing, and on the application of stochastic control theory in economics and operations.


Michael Harrison received a BS degree in industrial engineering from Lehigh University in 1966, an MS in industrial engineering from Stanford in 1967, and a PhD in operations research, also from Stanford, in 1970. That same year he joined the faculty of the Graduate School of Business as an Assistant Professor. He was promoted to Associate Professor in 1973 and to Professor in 1978.

Professor Harrison’s research focuses on stochastic models of business systems and business processes. In a four-year period around 1980 he coauthored two influential papers in mathematical finance, developing the mathematical foundations of option theory. In particular, he and his Stanford Graduate School of Business colleague David Kreps introduced the notion of equivalent martingale measures, which have since become a standard tool in theoretical analysis.

Professor Harrison’s later work has focused on the field of operations management, with emphasis on the time dimension of system performance. He has developed a family of stochastic system models called Brownian networks, which approximate the behavior of processing systems that arise in many different contexts, both for purposes of descriptive performance analysis and for purposes of optimal flow management. He has also coauthored papers on optimization of telephone call center operations, and on dynamic pricing with unknown demand.

Professor Harrison is the author of one book and more than 75 articles in scholarly journals.

Academic Degrees

  • PhD in Operations Research, Stanford University, 1970
  • MS in Industrial Engineering, Stanford Univeristy, 1967
  • BS in Industrial Engineering, Lehigh University, 1966

Academic Appointments

  • At Stanford University since 1970
  • Visiting Professor, Northwestern University, 1982–1983

Professional Experience

  • Visiting Scholar, Bell Labs, 1983
  • Visiting Scholar, Bell Labs, 1977
  • Decision Analyst, SRI, 1972–1973

Awards and Honors

  • National Academy of Engineering, 2007
  • John von Neumann Theory Prize, INFORMS, 2004
  • Lanchester Prize (best research publication), INFORMS, 2001
  • Expository Writing Award, INFORMS, 1998


Journal Articles

J. Michael Harrison, Assaf Zeevi. Manufacturing & Service Operations Management. 2005, Vol. 7 , Issue 1, Pages 20-36.
J. Michael Harrison. Annals of Applied Probability. 2003, Vol. 13, Issue 3, Pages 817-1230.
J. Michael Harrison, Charles A. Holloway, James M. Patell. Measures for Manufacturing Excellence. Harvard Business Press, 1990, Pages 309-352.
J. Michael Harrison. Stochastic Processes. 1981, Vol. 11, Issue 3, Pages 215–260.
J. Michael Harrison, David M. Kreps. Journal of Economic Theory. 1979, Vol. 20, Issue 3, Pages 381–408.


J. Michael Harrison Cambridge University Press, 2013.

Working Papers

Martingales and the Valuation of Redundant Assets | PDF
David M. Kreps, J. Michael Harrison1978
Stock Price Consistency in a Market with Heterogeneous Investors | PDF
David M. Kreps, J. Michael Harrison1974
The Approximate Ruin Function for A Risk Process with Compounding Assets | PDF
David C. Emanuel, J. Michael Harrison, Allison J. Taylor1974

Courses Taught

Degree Courses


The first half of this course will cover (i) the basic theory of Brownian motion, (ii) Ito stochastic calculus, and (iii) the rudiments of continuous-time stochastic control, all undertaken at a brisk pace, aimed at students who already know the...


The goal of this course is to provide first-year Ph.D. students in OIT with sufficient fundamentals to subsequently take advanced research seminars. The course covers the very basics of six topics: queueing theory, inventory theory, multi-echelon...

Stanford Case Studies

Call Center Design For Lion Financial Services | OIT29
J. Michael Harrison, Yuval Nov2003
Contract Manufacturing Decision at AlphaTech, Inc. | OIT19
J. Michael Harrison, Charles Holloway,1997
Bank of America - Accounts Payable (A) | OIT5A
J. Michael Harrison, James Patell1994
Bank of America - Accounts Payable (B) | OIT5B
J. Michael Harrison, James Patell1994
Computer System Design and Development at MasPar | OIT7
J. Michael Harrison, Charles, Halloway1994
American Semiconductor, Inc. (A) - Service Systems Architecture | DS88A
J Michael Harrison, Michael T Pich1990
Hewlett-Packard Personal Office Computer Division - Abridged | DS83
Macon Finley, J Michael Harrison, Charles Holloway1989
Manzana Insurance - Fruitvale Branch | DS87
David Paul Grant, J Michael Harrison, Christopher Loch1989
Hewlett-Packard Personal Office Computer Division | DS81
Macon Finley, J Michael Harrison1984

Service to the Profession

  • Fellow, INFORMS
  • Fellow, Institute for Mathematical Statistics