J. Michael Harrison

Professor Emeritus, Operations, Information & Technology
+1 (650) 723-4727

J. Michael Harrison

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.


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 Stanford Graduate School of Business as an assistant professor. He was promoted to associate professor in 1973 and to professor in 1978. He retired in 2011.

Harrison’s research focuses on stochastic models of business systems and business processes. In a four-year period around 1980, he co-authored 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.

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 co-authored papers on optimization of telephone call center operations, and on dynamic pricing with unknown demand.

Harrison is the author of three books 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, 1982–83

Professional Experience

  • Visiting Scholar, Bell Labs, 1983
  • Visiting Scholar, Bell Labs, 1977
  • Decision Analyst, SRI, 1972–73

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


Book Chapters

Working Papers

Stanford Case Studies

Service to the Profession

  • Fellow, INFORMS
  • Fellow, Institute for Mathematical Statistics

In the Media

School News