Pioneer in operations research awarded 2007 Stockholm Prize in Criminology

Alfred Blumstein honored for research into how criminal activity changes over the life of a criminal -- Updated statistics show largest spike in violent crime in 5 years

Alfred Blumstein, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University and a pioneer in Operations Research, has been awarded the prestigious 2007 Stockholm Prize in Criminology for his research into how criminals' activities vary over the course of their criminal careers.

Blumstein's research on criminal careers is based on Operations Research, a field that uses advanced mathematics to make better decisions. Operations Research has been used to schedule airline flight crews, deploy U.S. troops to Iraq, plan National Football League schedules, dispatch police officers and even design waiting lines at Disney World.

"The discipline and analytic skills of Operations Research have been the dominant force in the research I've done, helping produce insights into the nature of crime and effective approaches in dealing with criminals," Blumstein said. "I consider myself to be an Operations Researcher."

Blumstein's "The Crime Drop in America," co-edited with Joel Wallman (Cambridge University Press, 2000), identified the factors contributing to a 40 percent drop in homicide and robbery in the U.S. between 1993 and 2000. By 2000 homicides and robberies had dropped to levels not seen since the 1960s, thanks to falling demand for crack cocaine by new users, police efforts to take guns away and the imprisonment of many men over 30. From 2000 to 2004 U.S. homicide and robbery rates remained at historically low levels.

However, the rate of homicides and robberies rose by 2.5% in 2005, the largest increase in five years. Much of that increase was due to young people's violent reactions to insults using easily available guns. Poor job prospects for young people with little education could also have contributed, Blumstein said, as could a reduction in police and social services due to cuts in federal funding to high-crime communities.

Blumstein has long played a leading role in the field of Operations Research. He was president of the Operations Research Society of America in 1977. In 1987 he was president of another Operations Research organization, The Institute of Management Sciences. Later the two groups merged into the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS). Blumstein became the second president of INFORMS in 1996. Blumstein holds a doctorate in Operations Research from Cornell University.

The Stockholm Prize in Criminology recognizes achievements in criminological research or in the practical implementation of research to combat crime and promote human rights. The 2007 prize, which Blumstein shares with Terrie E. Moffitt of the University of London, will be awarded on June 5, 2007, at Stockholm City Hall.


To arrange an interview with Alfred Blumstein or for more information, contact John McElhenny of Schwartz Communications at (781) 684-0770 or [email protected].


The Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMSŪ) is an international scientific society with 10,000 members, including Nobel Prize laureates, dedicated to applying scientific methods to help improve decision-making, management and operations. Members of INFORMS work in business, government and academia. They are represented in fields as diverse as airlines, health care, law enforcement, the military, financial engineering and telecommunications. The INFORMS Web site is More information about Operations Research is at

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 30 Apr 2016
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