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A Brief History of the First Decade of SEMA

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000129687D
Original Publication Date: 1991-Sep-30
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2005-Oct-06
Document File: 9 page(s) / 40K

Publishing Venue

Software Patent Institute

Related People

J. LESOURNE: AUTHOR [+3]

Abstract

On January 1, 1958, the Societe de Mathematiques Appliquees (SMA) was founded. It was quite an unusual undertaking considering the juxtaposition in the company's name of 'applied mathematics'' on the one hand, and ";corporation (societe)"; on the other. Although it did not happen in a vacuum, it was nevertheless an original concept. This paper examines the steps that led to the founding of the company and leads the reader through the first decade of its incorporation.

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THIS DOCUMENT IS AN APPROXIMATE REPRESENTATION OF THE ORIGINAL.

Copyright ©; 1991 by the American Federation of Information Processing Societies, Inc. Used with permission.

A Brief History of the First Decade of SEMA

J. LESOURNE 1

R. ARMAND2 2

(Image Omitted: Author's Address: R. Armand, Pechiney, Immobile Blazac, Cedex 68, 92048 Paris La Defense, France. J. Lesourne. Le Monde, 15 rue Falguiere, 75015, Paris, France.)

On January 1, 1958, the Societe de Mathematiques Appliquees (SMA) was founded. It was quite an unusual undertaking considering the juxtaposition in the company's name of 'applied mathematics'' on the one hand, and "corporation (societe)" on the other. Although it did not happen in a vacuum, it was nevertheless an original concept. This paper examines the steps that led to the founding of the company and leads the reader through the first decade of its incorporation.

CR Categories and Subject Descriptors: K.2 [Computing Milieux]: History of Computing -- hardware, people, software. K6. 1 [Computing Milieux]: Management of Computing and Information Systems -- Project and People Management. General Terms: Economics, Legal Aspects, Management. Additional Keywords and Phrases: French computing, ORIC, informatics, Philippe Dreyfus, Robert Lattes, Plan Calcul, Metra International.

The Forefathers

During the Second World War, mathematics had been used, mostly in the United States and in Great Britain, to improve the efficiency of weapons or of defense systems and to better organize maintenance and logistics. When the war was over, peace proved to be as much demanding. The French economy in particular had to be restructured. The basic infrastructures and industries, for example, electricity, railways, and coal, were centralized into State monopolies with the aim of increasing their capacity and their productivity. Choosing the right investments and optimizing their use was the order of the day. The newly created Electricite de France was particularly successful in developing methods for discounting cash-flows, planning additional power plants, and managing their optimal use according to the variations of electricity consumption and to the statistical uncertainties of hydroelectricity. Pierre Masse played a dominant role in this rationalization of industrial decisions on a grand scale, whereas Maurice Allais, who received the Nobel Prize in Economics in 1988, formulated the basic rules for the efficient allocation of resources. Both provided leading, if not patriarchal, figures to younger scientists like Jacques Lesourne, who was doing a similar job with Charbonnages de France and was about to partake in the creation of SMA.

Reconstruction was also demanding for private enterprises. They called organization consultants to streamline their production or their accounting systems along the ideas of Fayol (1916) and Taylor `1991). Well established or start-up consulting companies flourished in such favorable market conditions. Marc...