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Stamford IT coordinator recognized
February 8, 1999

Julian Reitman, instructional technology coordinator at the Stamford campus, has received the first Lifetime Professional Achievement Award from the INFORMS College on Simulation. The award was presented during opening ceremonies of the 1998 Winter Simulation Conference, held recently in Washington.

The award, given at most once a year, was established "to recognize major contributions to the field of simulation that are sustained over most of a professional career." Reitman's career in simulation has covered more than 40 years, virtually spanning the history of modern computer simulation.

Reitman was on the frontier of simulation application and pioneered many simulation developments. "Julian Reitman was among the first, if not the most prominent, to champion the application of simulation, and this focus on simulation application has been his lifelong passion," says Steve Roberts, a professor of industrial engineering, North Carolina State University. "Julian's professional contributions to the field of simulation, especially in the application of simulation, are striking not only for their impact on the field, but also for the remarkably long period over which that impact has been sustained."

Almost from the beginning of his career in the late 1940s, Reitman joined the world of electronic analog computing and modeling. He made an early transition into the digital world in the 1950s, creating computer and communications systems for airline reservations, working directly with complex systems of people and technology.

Out of a frustration with limited analysis tools, he "discovered" computer simulation.

In the 1960s, he was the leader of one of the first simulation application groups in industry - at the Norden Division of United Aircraft Corp. Throughout the 1960s and into the 1970s, Reitman and his team at Norden created many simulation models of real systems: naval vessel performance, anti-submarine warfare, effectiveness of airborne radar, railed automated highways, air traffic control, message switching in communications, yield prediction for integrated circuit production, and countless others. Many of these models were the first such simulation applications.

While breaking new ground in simulation applications, Julian became a leading proponent for extensions and enhancements to GPSS, IBM's simulation language, that incorporated user features that foretold the future of simulation. These features included memory-management facilities to execute models whose size exceeded physical memory, interactive control of executing simulations with real-time debugging that allowed revision of model logic and data, and animation of executing simulation models and the graphical display of simulation output. "These were remarkable accomplishments considering that it was 1970!" says Roberts.

Reitman also served in several leadership roles in the professional organization, the IEEE, and was one of the founders of the Winter Simulation Conference(WSC). He has published many articles on simulation and, in 1971, wrote one of the first simulation textbooks, Computer Simulation Applications: Discrete Event Simulation for Synthesis and Analysis of Complex Systems, which became a classic.

Reitman remains active in "retirement" by teaching and documenting the history of science and technology. "Julian is quick to remind us all that while there have been considerable advances in the technology of simulation, predictions of performance are often inadequately understood and observed," says Roberts, "that they are inextricably tied to the human element and that understanding the role of people remains a significant area for future development."