In Memoriam: Dr. Thomas L. Saaty

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Dr. Thomas L. Saaty passed away at the age of 91. He had been bravely battling a grave illness for some time and will be dearly missed. 

Distinguished University Professor Thomas Saaty passed away at the age of 91.

Holding the highest faculty rank of Distinguished University Professor, Saaty was an exceptionally gifted researcher and prolific author, and for many years his brilliant mind illuminated the field of Business Analytics and Operations. He is best known as the creator of the decision-making mechanisms Analytic Hierarchy Process (AHP) and Analytic Network Process (ANP) for resolving complex problems. These versatile tools had virtually limitless practical applications. Saaty and his coworkers successfully applied these tools to such issues as arms control and disarmament, geopolitical conflicts, urban design, and countless business applications worldwide.

Saaty was first recruited to the Katz School in 1979 by Dean Emeritus H. J. Zoffer. He was previously on the faculty of the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. Prior to his faculty appointments, he held prominent positions at the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, Office of Naval Research, the U.S. Embassy in London, and Navy Management Office, among others.

Saaty’s impeccable academic credentials included a PhD in mathematics from Yale University, with post-graduate study completed in pure mathematics at The Sorbonne, University of Paris, a MA in mathematics from Yale University, a MS in physics from the Catholic University of America, and a BA from Columbia Union College.

The impressive awards and accolades that Saaty garnered over the course of his lifetime include his cumulative citation count—which is one measure of his impact on the field—exceeds 97,000 citations in Google Scholar. Fittingly, he was the recipient of the University of Pittsburgh’s highest honor for research, the Chancellor’s Distinguished Research Award, and also received the Katz School's H.J. Zoffer Medal for Meritorious Service in recognition of his years of service. Saaty also received many awards honoring his contributions to his field, including the Impact Prize from INFORMS and the Gold Medal from the International Society for Multi-Criteria Decision Making.

Saaty touched the lives of many during his time at Katz. As a researcher, as a teacher, and as a friend and colleague, he brought honor and prestige to the institution. International scholars from all corners of the world sought him out and came to Pittsburgh to work with him.  We will all miss his prodigious presence at Katz.

Tom is survived by his wife, Rozann Saaty; his children, Linda, Michael, Emily, John, and Daniel; his grandchildren, Tom, Michael, Meghan, Amy, Kara, Monica, Emma, Nina, Max, and Fletcher; and his great grandchildren, Lydia, Fiona, and Lilly.