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Laboratory for Information and Decision Systems (LIDS)

Heads of the Laboratory for Information and Decision Systems and its predecessors

Gordon S. Brown 1939-1952
William M. Pease 1952-1953
J. Francis Reintjes 1953-1974
Michael Athans 1974-1981
Sanjoy K. Mitter 1981-1986
Sanjoy K. Mitter and
Robert G. Gallager
1986-Dec. 1998, Co-directors
Sanjoy K. Mitter and
Vincent W. S. Chan
Dec. 1998-July 1999, Co-directors
Vincent W. S. Chan July 1999-2007
Alan Willsky 2007-2009, Acting Director; 2009- , Director

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology Servomechanisms Laboratory was established in the Department of Electrical Engineering in 1939 by Assistant Professor Gordon S. Brown in response to a request from the United States Navy for a special course in servomechanisms and fire control (gun-positioning instruments). During World War II the laboratory accepted research and development for the U.S. government and commercial contractors.

In 1959 the Servomechanisms Laboratory was renamed the Electronic Systems Laboratory (ESL) which reflected its goal to carry out basic and applied research in the general area of complex engineering and sociotechnical systems.

Though the laboratory changed its name and widened its activities in many areas, such as library automation, it retained a central identity in automatic control and a pragmatic research program with a close coupling to the teaching program. The ESL was a departmental laboratory reporting to the head of the Department of Electrical Engineering at the Institute until March 1978, when it became an interdisciplinary laboratory reporting directly to the provost.

In September 1978 the ESL was renamed the Laboratory for Information and Decision Systems (LIDS), and in 1981 the lab began reporting to the dean of the School of Engineering. Its fundamental research goal is to advance the fields of systems, communication, and control.

Prepared by the Institute Archives, MIT Libraries
November 1995; updated December 2002; August 2008