Russell L. Ackoff was born in 1919 in Philadelphia to Jack and Fannie(Weitz) Ackoff. He received his bachelor degree in architecture at the University of Pennsylvania in 1941. After graduation, he taught at Penn for one year as an assistant instructor in philosophy.From 1942 to 1946, he served in the U.S. Army. He returned to study at the University of Pennsylvania, where he received his doctorate in philosophy of science in 1947 as C. West Churchman’s firstdoctoral student. He also received a number of honorary doctorates, from 1967 and onward.
From 1947 to 1951 Ackoff was assistant professor in philosophy and mathematics at the Wayne State University.He was associate professor and professor of operations research at Case Institute of Technology from 1951 to 1964. In 1961 and 1962 he was also visiting professor of operational research at theUniversity of Birmingham. From 1964 to 1986 he was professor of systems sciences and professor of management science at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.
Nicholson and Myers (1998)report that, in the 1970s and 1980s, the Social Systems Sciences Program at the Wharton School was "noted for combining theory and practice, escaping disciplinary bounds, and driving students towardindependent thought and action. The learning environment was fostered by distinguished standing and visiting faculty such as Eric Trist, C. West Churchman, Hasan Ozbekhan, Thomas A. Cowan, and FredEmery".
Beginning in 1979, Ackoff worked together with John Pourdehnad as consultants in a broad range of industries including aerospace, chemicals, computer equipment, data services and software,...