Ralph Keeney and UCLA

Ralph Keeney graduated from the UCLA Electrical Engineering program.

While at UCLA he studied fluid mechanics, thermodynamics, strength of materials, electric circuits, applied mathematics, chemistry, physics, professional ethics, and a lot of economics. In addition, a four-year sequence of eight interdisciplinary laboratories spanned the undergraduate years.

Ralph Keeney received his MS and EE degrees in electrical engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He earned his PhD in Operations Research from MIT. The OR Center is one of the premier Operations Research programs in the world. Operations Research (OR) is the discipline of applying advanced analytical methods to help make better decisions.

At MIT, Ralph was a member of the MIT Operations Research Center, which was founded in 1953 by Philip M. Morse, one of fathers of Operations Research in the United States. Phillip Morse helped create the Operations Research Society of America (ORSA). John Little was the first graduate student of the MIT OR Center.

Ralph’s doctoral advisor was Howard Raiffa, professor at Harvard University. Ralph had previously registered in Professor Raiffa’s course called Decision Analysis within Harvard’s Department of Economics.

David E. Bell (Harvard Business School), John D.C. Little (MIT), Ralph L. Keeney

While at MIT, Ralph approached Professor Raiffa with the idea for jointly writing a book on multiple objectives and utility theory in decision-making. They worked on this book together for the next six years. This became their first co-authored text, Decisions with Multiple Objectives: Preference and Value Tradeoffs published by Wiley in 1976. Since 1993, it has been published by Cambridge University Press.

During his graduate studies at MIT and Harvard, Ralph Keeney was a member of the technical staff at Bell Telephone Laboratories. After being awarded a PhD in Operations Research by MIT, Ralph joined the MIT faculty, becoming an Assistant Professor of Civil Engineering at MIT and then an Associate Professor at the Sloan School of Management at MIT.

For more than 20 years, he taught a summer program on Decision Analysis with his colleague and friend, Professor Al Drake at MIT (who was a well known, influential OR professor whose major course was “Probabilistic Systems Analysis”). In the summer academic program, Professors Drake and Keeney covered topics in probability, decision theory, risk management, multi-attribute utility, and decisions under uncertainty. In their teaching, they specialized in bringing to life difficult concepts with real-world examples. They also contributed jointly to a book, Analysis of Public Systems, MIT Press, 1972 (edited by Al Drake, Ralph Keeney and Philip Morse) including “Use of Decision Analysis in Airport Development for Mexico City”.

Ralph Keeney and IIASA

Howard Raiffa, Founding Director of IIASA, Detlof von Winterfeltd, ninth IIASA Director, with Ralph L. Keeney

Ralph was one of the early researchers at IIASA (International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis in Austria,) He first went to IIASA in 1974 as a Research Scholar. Howard Raiffa was IIASA’s Founding Director and invited Ralph to join IIASA as a research scholar.

Founded in 1972, IIASA conducts policy-oriented research on problems of a global nature that are too large or too complex to be solved by a single country or single academic discipline. Designed to promote East-West scientific cooperation during the Cold War, today, IIASA is addressing the global challenges of the 21st century and has approximately 25 member nations who participate together using a wide range of analytic and scientific skills to provide insights into critical policy issues involving international and national problems, with a focus upon three central research topics: energy and climate change, food and water, and poverty and equity.

While working at IIASA, Ralph lived in Vienna and learned to speak German. Ralph recommended several top young scholars and researchers who joined IIASA in the early years, David Bell, Eric Wood, John Lathrop, Detlof Von Winterfeld (who subsequently became the Director of IIASA 2009-2012).

Currently Ralph is involved in supporting and promoting the IIASA mission. He has been a member of IIASA’s Scientific Advisory Commitee (2011-2017) whose role is to support IIASA in meeting the highest standards for both scientific and policy relevance.

Ralph Keeney and Consulting

Ralph Keeney was the founder of the decision and risk analysis group of a large geotechnical and environmental consulting firm (Woodward-Clyde) headquartered in San Francisco. In addition, throughout his career, and currently he has focused on consulting in practical and meaningful ways in order to have a positive impact on complex decisions.

Some of the arenas in which he has been a consultant for complex decision-making and risk management include corporate management decisions, public policy, risk analyses, large scale siting studies (e.g., airports, power plants), and studies of environmental impacts.

Dr. Keeney has been a consultant to many organizations including American Express, Fair Isaac, Seagate Technology, British Columbia Hydro, Energie Baden-Wuerttemberg, Pacific Gas and Electric, BC Gas, Kaiser Permanente, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, HP, the Electric Power Research Institute, Hunton & Williams, Chevron, Greater Vancouver Regional District, International Institute of Management (Berlin), Ministry of Public Works (Mexico), U.S. Department of Energy, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. (Please see “consulting” and “published articles” for more detail)

Ralph Keeney and University of Southern California

2015 Create Scientific Advisory Committee with Director Ali Abbas (center) then left to right: Dennis Mileti, James Matheson, Ralph Keeney and Jason Merrick

Professor Ralph Keeney is Professor Emeritus of Industrial and Systems Engineering at the University of Southern California. At the University of Southern California, in Los Angeles, starting in 1983, he became a Professor of Systems Management and later, in 1997, became a faculty member in the USC Marshall School of Business and in the Industrial and Systems Engineering department.

During his years at USC, he taught courses and pursued research and practical applications of decision science methods for optimizing decision making:

• Models for decisions involving multiple objectives
• Decision analysis in complex corporate and governmental problems
• Risk analysis involving life-threatening risks
• Structuring decisions and creating innovative alternatives

In 2003, Ralph Keeney became Chair of the Scientific Advisory committee of CREATE which is The Homeland Security Center for Risk and Economic Analysis of Terrorism Events (CREATE) and is the first university “Center of Excellence” funded by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. This interdisciplinary national research center is based at the University of Southern California and is comprised of experts from across the country. CREATE assembled a Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC) of professional experts from diverse backgrounds with Ralph as the Chairman. The committee meets to review the CREATE’s research agenda.

Ralph Keeney and Duke, Fuqua School of Business

Ralph Keeney joined the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University in North Carolina in 2002 as Research Professor of Decision Sciences, a position which he held for ten years. During this time, Ralph published more that 25 articles in peer referenced journals, many of these with Fuqua faculty and Fuqua graduate students.

Professor Keeney is an enthusiastic contributor to the Fuqua Business School and represents the School of Business giving professional talks in international and national conferences, interviews to the international media, at the U.S. National Academy of Engineering, and seminars to businesses and universities in the US and internationally. Ralph is currently Research Professor Emeritus at the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University.

Ralph Keeney and the National Academy of Engineering

Ralph was elected member of the National Academy of Engineering in 1995. This constitutes the highest honor for an engineer in the United States. He was honored for contributions to the theory and engineering practice of decision analysis as applied to complex public problems with conflicting objectives.

The National Academy of Engineering (NAE) is part of The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. The NAE operates under the same congressional act of incorporation that established the National Academy of Sciences, signed in 1863 by President Lincoln. Under this charter the NAE is directed “whenever called upon by any department or agency of the government, to investigate, examine, experiment, and report upon any subject of science or art.”

Ralph Keeney has served on advisory committees and associated recommended projects concerning for example “precious materials and national preparedness”, and “emergency skyscraper egress”.

Ralph is interested to work on and contribute to clear thinking for complex national or global business or social or government policy decisions.