World Wide Web Pages for Professor Yu-Chi Ho (last update November 2009)

Yu-Chi Ho

Gordon McKay Professor of Systems Engineering, Emeritus
T. Jefferson Coolidge Professor of Applied Mathematics, Emeritus
School of Engineering and Applied Sciences
Harvard University

Chair Professor
Center for Intelligent and Networked Systems (CFINS)
Department of Automation
Tsinghua University

Office: Maxwell-Dworkin Lab. Rm 139
33 Oxford Street, Cambridge, MA 02138
Telephone: (617) 495- 3992

·Research Projects
·Graduate Students
·50th Anniverary Slideshow

Selected Publications


Yu-Chi Ho received his S.B. and S.M. degrees in Electrical Engineering from M.I.T. and his Ph.D. in Applied Mathematics from Harvard University. Except for three years of full time industrial work he has been on the Harvard faculty. Since 1969 he has been Gordon McKay Professor of Engineering and Applied Mathematics. In 1988, he was appointed to the T. Jefferson Coolidge Chair in Applied Mathematics and Gordon McKay Professor of Systems Engineering at Harvard and as visiting professor to the Cockrell Family Regent's Chair in Engineering at the University of Texas, Austin.  In 2001, he retired from teaching duties at Harvard and became a Research Professor (2001-2006), Professor Emeritus (2007-date) and also was appointed to be a chair professor and chief scientist (part time), at the Center for Intelligent and Networked Systems (CFINS), Department of Automation, Tsinghua University, Beijing China. Since 2007 he has also begun blogging regularly on Science Net China and his book of blog articles 2007-2009 has just been published by Tsin ghua University Press.

He has published over 140 articles and six books, one of which (co-authored with A.E. Bryson, Jr.) has been translated into both Russian and Chinese and made the list of Citation Classics as one of the most referenced works on the subject of optimal control. He is on the editorial boards of several international journals and is the founding editor of the international Journal on Discrete Event Dynamic Systems. He is the recipient of various fellowships and awards including the Guggenheim (1970), the IEEE Field Award for Control Engineering and Science (1989), the Chiang Technology Achievement Award (1993), the American Automatic Control Council Bellman Control Heritage  Award (1999), the ASME Rufus Oldenburger Award (1999), and the Isaacs Award from the International Society of Dynamic Games (2004). He is an IEEE Life Fellow and an INFORMS Inaugural Fellow, a Distinguished Member of the IEEE Control Systems Society,  a member of the U.S. National Academy of Engineering and an elected foreign member of the Chinese Academy of Engineering and the Chinese Academy of Sciences. In addition to services on various governmental and industrial panels, and professional society administrative bodies, he was the program chairman for the IEEE Conference on Decision and Control 1972, the general chairman of the IEEE Robotics and Automation Conference 1987, President of the IEEE Robotics & Automation Society in 1988.

His research interests ranges from optimal control. differential games, information structure, multi-person decision analysis, to incentive control, and since 1983, exclusively in discrete event dynamic systems, ordinal optimization, decentralized optimization, perturbation analysis, manufacturing automation, and complex networked systems.


Research Projects

Discrete Event Dynamic Systems (DEDS) Perturbation Analysis

Ordinal Optimization (see web-based instruction module.)
OO demo instructions posted.
New book on Ordinal Optimization Springer 2007

· Sensor Network and Complex Systems (



Graduate Students

·  50 Ph.D. graduated (retired from teaching will accept no more Ph.D student at Harvard).

· ·  3 Ph.D. students graduated from Tsinghua University. (Qing-Shan Jia (Ph.D,Tsinghua University. Completed 2006, now lecturer at Tsinghua), Hong-Xing Bai (Ph.D. Tsinghua University, completed 2007, now in industry) Zhen SHEN (Ph..D Tsinghua University 2009 now working in the Institute of Automation, chinese Academy of Sciences)


Selected Publications 

1. Books (6 Books)

· The 1999 IFAC World Congress plenary lecture "OPTIMIZATION - A Many Splendored Thing" given by Y.C.Ho on July 5, 1999 in Beijing, China will be available as a CD-ROM PowerPoint document with recorded voices synchronized with graphical animation to approximate the original live lecture on or about 12/99. Interested parties can e-mail the author about availability. Part of the slides of this lecture will also be published in the volume on Advances in System Theory published in celebration of the 65th birthday of Prof. Sanjoy Mitter of MIT by Kluwer in 10/99

· APPLIED OPTIMAL CONTROL (with A. E. Bryson Jr.)* Hemisphere-Wiley 1975, First published by Xerox College Publishing 1969. *Citation Classic, SCIENCE CITATION INDEX (CURRENT CONTENTS) 2/25/80, Vol. 11, No. 8, as the most cited reference on the subject.

· PERTURBATION ANALYSIS OF DISCRETE EVENT DYNAMIC SYSTEMS (with X. Cao) Kluwer Publishing Co. June 1991 Videotape Tutorial "An Introduction to Discrete Event Dynamic Systems - Analyzing complexity and Performance in the Modern World" IEEE Educational Services 9/1991

· ORDINAL OPTIMIZATION (with Q.C. Zhao and Qing-Shan Jia), Springer-Kluwer publisher, Fall 2007

. Series of 11 informal blog articles on Research and Education, “Thoughts Beyond Science 智者不惑” (translated into  Chinese from何毓琦.htm) - 科学网博文集萃 collection published by Science Publisher, Beijing, China, Vol.1  科学出版社, 北京,中国. March 2008

. Letters from America – Blog articles by Yu-Chi Ho, 2007-2009,  科学人生纵横, Tsinghua University Press, 2009 (in English with Chinese translation)


2. Discrete Event Dynamic Systems, Operations Research, and Simulation (140+ Papers)

. "Why is science conservative (I and II) Two articles in collection (Dynamic Science) published by Science Publisher, Beijing, China Vol. 2, 2009
. Complete Coverage and Point Coverage of a Randomly Distributed Sensor Network (with Chen  Xi , Bai Hong-Xing, and Xia Li) , Automatica, 45, 2009, 1549-1553

. The Equivalence Between Ordinal Optimization In Deterministic Complex Problems And In Stochastic Simulation Problems” (
with Qing-Shan Jia, and Qian-Chuan Zhao), J. Discrete Event Dynamic Systems,Vol.16 #3, 2006, 405-411

· "A Method Based on Kolmogorov Complexity to Improve the Efficiency of Strategy Optimization with Limited Memory Space" (with Q.S. Jia and Q.C. Zhao), Proceedings of the 2006 American Control Conference, submitted to IEEE Trans. On AC, 2006

· "Comparison of Selection Rules for Ordinal Optimization" (with Q.-S. Jia and Q.-C. Zhao), Mathematical and Computer Modelling, 43, (2006) 1150-1171.

· "Machine Learning Approach for Determining Feasible Plans of a Remanufacturing System" (with C. Song, X. Guan, and Q. Zhao), IEEE Transactions on Automation Science and Engineering, Vol. 2, #3, 262-275, 2005.

· "Vector Ordinal Optimization" (with Q.C. Zhao and Q.S. Jia), Journal of Optimization Theory and Applications, Vol. 125, # 2, 259-274, May 2005.

· "On Centralized Optimal Control", IEEE Transactions on Automatic Control, Vol. 50, #4, 537-538, Apr. 2005.

· "A Conceptual Framework for Optimization and Distributed Intelligence" (with D. L. Pepyne), the 43rd IEEE Conference on Decision and Control, Atlantis, Paradise Island, Bahamas, Dec. 14-17, 2004.

· "The No Free Lunch Theorem: Complexity and Computer Security" (with Q.C. Zhao and D. Pepyne), IEEE Trans. On Automatic Control, Vol. 48, #5, 783-793, May 2003.

· "Constraint Ordinal Optimization" (with D. Li and L.H. Lee), Information Sciences, Vol. 148, 201-220, 2002.

· "A Simple Explanation of the No Free Lunch Theorem" (with D. Pepyne), Proc. of the 2001 Conference on Decision and Control, J. of Opt. Theory and Applications, Vol.115, #3, Dec. 2002. 

· "Explanation Of Goal Softening in Ordinal Optimization" (with L,H.Lee and E.T.K. Lau), IEEE Trans. on Automatic Control, 44, #1, Jan. 1999

·  "On the Numerical solution of Stochastic Optimization Problems", IEEE Trans. on Automatic Control, 42, #5, 1997, 727-729, 1997

· "Review of the Book: Neuro-Fuzzy and Soft Computing by Jang-Sun-Mizutani" IEEE Trans. on Automatic Control, 42, #9, 1997

· "Universal Alignment Probabilities and Subset Selection for Ordinal Optimization" (with Lau, T.W.E.) JOTA, v.93, #3 June 1997, 455-490

· "Heuristics, Rules of Thumb, and the 80/20 Proposition" to appear IEEE Trans. on Automatic Control, Vol 39, #5, 1025-1027, May 1994

· "Ordinal Optimization of Discrete Event Dynamic Systems" (with R.Sreeniva and P. Vakili) J. on DEDS, vol.2, #2, 1992

· "Perturbation Analysis: Concepts and Algorithms" Proc. of Winter Simulation Conference, 1992

· "Performance Gradient Estimation for Very Large Markov Chains" (with B. Zhang), IEEE Trans. on Automatic Control, 36, #11, 1218-1227, Nov. 1991

· "Parallel Simulation of Real Time System via the Standard Clock Approach" (with C. Cassandras, M. Makhlouf) J. IMACS, 35, #1, pp 33-41, 1993

· "Efficient Parametric Analysis of Performance Measures for Communication Networks" (with C. Cassandras and J.I. Lee) IEEE J. on Selected Areas of Communications, 8, #9, 1709-1722 December 1990

· "Design of a Numerical Milling Machine System" (with E.C. Johnson) Proc. of the Eastern Joint Computer Conference, Dec. 1957, pp 11-24.


3. Information Structure, Team Theory, and Incentives (36 Papers)

· "On the Interactions of Incentive and Information Structures" (with D. Teneketzis), IEEE Trans. on Auto. Control, AC-29, No. 7, July 1984, pp 647-650.

· "Incentive Problems in Resource Allocation: Algorithms and Solutions" (with L. Servi) Advances in Large Scale Systems, Vol. 1, I JAI Press, 1983, pp 143-162.

· "Team Decision Theory and Information Structures" Proc. of IEEE, Vol. 68, No. 6, June 1980, pp 644-654.

"Team Decision Theory and Information Structures in Optimal Control Problems, Part I" (with K.C. Chu), IEEE Trans. on Automatic Control, Vol. 17, No. 1, Feb. 1972, pp 15-22. BEST PAPER AWARD.

4. Control Theory and Optimization (24 Papers)

"A Bayesian Approach to Problems in Stochastic Estimation and Control" (with R.C.K. Lee), IEEE Trans. on Automatic Control, Vol. 9, Oct. 1964, pp 333-339.

5. Differential Games and Many Person Decision Problems (15 Papers)

· "Differential Games: Concepts and Applications" (with G.J. Olsder), Proc. of Yale-ONR Conference on Models of Conflict, Nov. 1979; Chapter in Mathematics of Conflict, M. Shubik (Ed), North Holland, 1983, pp 127-186.

"Differential Games and Optimal Pursuit-Evasion Strategies" (with S. Baron and A.E. Bryson) IEEE Trans. on Automatic Control, Vol. 10, No. 4, Oct. 1965, pp 385-389.

6. Pattern Recognition (7 Papers)

"On Pattern Classification Algorithms" (with A.K. Agrawala) Proc. of IEEE, Vol. 56, No. 12, Dec. 1968, pp 2101-2114.

7. Miscellaneous: Economics, Computer Science, and Education (8 Papers)

· "Optimal Resource Investment: An Example of a Control Problem in Economic Theory" (with A.R. Dobell) IEEE Trans. on Automatic Control, Vol. 12, No. 1, Feb. 1967, pp 4-14.

"Optimizing Chain Queries in a Distributed Database System" (with D.M.Chiu and P.A. Bernstein) SIAM J. on Computing, 1984. Vol. 13, No. 1, pp. 116-134

Professor Y. C. Ho,