Karla Hoffman


Professor, Systems Engineering and Operations Research Dept., Volgenau School of Information Technology and Engineering


Web: Personal website  Volgenau page Research Gate  LinkedIn  informs page

Email:   khoffman@gmu.edu
Phone:  703-993-1679
Address:  Engineering Building, room 2207, Mail Stop 4A6
George Mason University
Fairfax, VA 22030-4444   


Karla Hoffman was inducted as a Fellow of INFORMS in 2002. In 2005, she was awarded the Kimball Medal for her many contributions to the field of operations research, and for her distinguished service to INFORMS and its predecessor organizations. During 1995- 1996, she served as Treasurer of INFORMS, and chaired the Finance and Investment Committees of INFORMS. She has previously been on the Executive Committees of the Mathematical Programming Society and the Operations Research Society of America and has chaired various committees for each of these societies. Dr. Hoffman’s primary area of research is combinatorial optimization and combinatorial auction design as well software development and testing. She has developed scheduling algorithms for the airline and trucking industries, developed capital budgeting software for the telecommunications industry, and consults to the Federal Communications Commission on combinatorial auction design and software development. Mason Speaker in the following areas:


National Institute of Standards and technology (NIST) Applied Research Award, Commerce Department Silver Medal, George Mason University’s Distinguished Faculty Award, The Volgenau School of Engineering Distinguished Research Award, and the Institute of Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS) Kimball Medal and Harvey Greenberg Service Award. She is a Fellow of the Institute of Operations Research and the Management Sciences.

Professional Activities

Dr. Hoffman served as President of INFORMS in 1999 and is currently on the Administrative Council of the International Federation of Operations Research Societies (IFORS) as the Vice President of the North American Operations Research Societies. She has served on the Boards of INFORMS, The Operations Research Society of America (ORSA), The Mathematical Programming Society. She has served as Treasurer and Secretary of the Parkinson Foundation of the National Capital Area.


Dr. Hoffman has worked with a variety of government agencies and corporations on such diverse problems as:
•    Planning and scheduling buses at Disneyworld
•    Real-time scheduling of concrete trucks throughout Northern Virginia
•    Assigning crews to flights for a major airline
•    Determining the scoring process by which tax returns are ranked for audits
•    Determining the placement of sensors on a battlefield and the assignment of radio channels dynamically to military units during wartime situations

What do all of these problems have in common?  They are large, can be modeled using mathematics and economics and provide insights regarding the likely outcomes of making specific decisions. Currently, Hoffman is working as a consultant to the Federal Communication Commission on the “incentive auction”, a multi-billion dollar auction where over-the-air TV broadcasters sell back their spectrum rights to the FCC which then sells this recovered spectrum to the wireless industry. As the world continues to use wireless technologies for communication and for the internet-of-things, the need continues for more radio waves allocated to wireless use increases. This repurposing of spectrum to wireless required a revolutionary auction design that uses sophisticated mathematical optimization techniques to assure its success. Hoffman is part of a team at the FCC performing these tasks that consists of mostly graduates Mason’s Department of Systems Engineering and Operations Research.

Dr. Hoffman’s primary areas of research are combinatorial optimization and auction research. She consults to the Federal Communication Commission on auction design and testing, and is currently working on projects for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and the Department of Homeland Security. She has consulted to a variety of corporations on the routing and scheduling of ships, trucks and buses. She has consulted to U.S. Airways, Delta Airlines, Northwest Airlines, and American Airlines on fleet assignment and crew-scheduling problems. She has worked with the Disney Corporation and Florida Rock Industries on real-time scheduling. She has served as a consultant on combinatorial optimization problems for telecommunications, transportation, postal services and military organizations and has consulted on auction design related to telecommunications. She has served on the editorial boards of: Annals of Operations Research, Computational Optimization and its Applications, Information Systems Frontiers, INFORMS Journal on Computing and the SIAM Journal on Optimization.


2015 – 2018 : Optimal Spectrum Allocation to Support Tactical Mobile Ad-hoc Networks. Funded by US Department of the Navy.

2008 – 2011 : Market-Based and Auction-Based Models and Algorithms for En-Route Airspace Allocation and Configuration. Funded by NASA Ames Research Center.

2010 – 2011 : ARRA: Metroplex Optimization Model Expansion and Analysis. Funded by National Aeronautics and Space Administration.


Air Transportation, Optimization, Military Operations Research, Computational Statistics, Big Data, Machine Learning, Auction Design and Testing


DSc, Operations Research, George Washington University (1975)

MBA, Operations Research, George Washington University (1971)

BA, Mathematics , Rutgers University (1969)


Professor & Researcher
George Mason University
1986 – Present

Administrative Council
2010 – 2011

Decisive Analytics Corporation
1999 – 2008

Provide optimization and auction design consulting to a variety of government agencies and corporations.

2000 – 2007

Software user
2000 – 2002

Past President
Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS)
Jan 2000 – Dec 2000

National Institute of Science and Technology
Sep 1974 – Aug 1985

Performed research and consulting for a variety of government agencies.



The FCC Spectrum Incentive Auction: Lessons for the Future | Auction Design

Published on Jun 26, 2017 | Duke University School of Law
Karla’s presentation starts at 15:18

The FCC concluded the most complex auction in history, the culmination of a decade-long planning process for moving spectrum from broadcast to mobile broadband uses. On May 12, 2017, The Center for Innovation Policy at Duke Law held a half-day conference that identified lessons from this auction for spectrum policy, government disposition of assets (whether of spectrum or other resources), and the future of innovation policy generally. The conference was held at Duke in DC, 1201 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, Suite 500, Washington, DC.

Panelists: Lawrence Ausubel (University of Maryland, Power Auctions) Karla Hoffman, George Mason University, & Ilya Segal (Stanford University)Discussant: Michael Ostrovsky, Stanford Graduate School of Business

Sponsored by the Center for Innovation Policy

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