John R. Birge studies mathematical modeling of systems under uncertainty, especially for maximizing operational and financial goals using the methodologies of stochastic programming and large-scale optimization. He was first drawn to this area by a need to use mathematics in a useful and practical way. His research has shown how special problem structure can allow for efficient solutions to complex problems of decision making under uncertainty. This research has been supported by the National Science Foundation, the Ford Motor Company, General Motors Corporation, the National Institute of Justice, the Office of Naval Research, the Electric Power Research Institute, and Volkswagen of America. He has published widely and is a member of the National Academy of Engineering.
A former dean of the Robert R. McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Sciences at Northwestern University, he has worked as a consultant for a variety of firms including the University of Michigan Hospitals, Deutsche Bank, Allstate Insurance Company, and Morgan Stanley, and he uses cases from these experiences in his teaching.