Amy R. Ward

About Me

I am a Professor of Operations Management at the University of Chicago in the Booth School of Business. I received my Ph.D. from Stanford in Management Science and Engineering in 2001.

I am the Editor-in-Chief of Operations Research (OR), a flagship journal for the operations research community since its inception in the 1950s.  OR is committed to publishing papers that advance the state-of-the-art knowledge in operations research (that is, in using analytical methods to improve decision-making).

My main interest is in service operations management; see this explanation in the Chicago Booth Review. Services encompass a broad and diverse range of industries including airlines, hospitals, call centers, and online marketplaces. The importance of promoting efficient operations in service firms is largely due to the fact that service firms provide most of the GDP and employment in post-industrial economies such as the U.S.

Service firms cannot predict either when customers will arrive or how long the processing of each customer will take. Even when customers schedule appointments (such as to visit a physician), the service provider must deal with early and late arrivals, cancellations, and no-shows. In contrast to firms that produce products, service firms cannot build up inventory in order to buffer themselves from unexpected bursts in customer arrivals. Hence service firms prioritize designing and implementing operating policies that respond in real-time to randomness and variability in customer arrival and processing times. This requires the use of stochastic processes (functions that incorporate randomness in both time and space).

My research expertise is in the development and analysis of stochastic process models that are relevant for service operations management decisions. This requires tools from statistics, optimization, probability theory, queueing theory, game theory, decision analysis, and simulation.

I am always looking for PhD students with strong mathematical and technical skills. If this is you, please apply to the Management Science and Operations Management PhD program and/or contact me.