RAND Classics

  • Writings of Albert Wohlstetter 1951–1993

    Albert Wohlstetter was a mathematical logician and senior staff member at RAND in the 1950s and 1960s. He became one of the world's leading nuclear and national security strategists. His studies led to the "second-strike" and "fail-safe" concepts for deterring nuclear war. These and other methods reduced the probability of accidental war. Professor Wohlstetter was affiliated with institutions such as the European-American Institute, the Hoover Institution, and PAN Heuristics Services. He received the Medal of Freedom for his contributions toward national security. He earned degrees from Columbia University and later taught at UCLA and UC Berkeley and then for many years at the University of Chicago. Many of his major RAND works are available in their entirety on this website, reprinted with the permission of the Wohlstetter estate.

  • Paul Baran's "On Distributed Communications" Series 1964

    While working at RAND on a scheme for U.S. telecommunications infrastructure to survive a "first strike," Paul Baran conceived of the Internet and digital packet switching, the Internet's underlying data communications technology. His concepts are still employed today; just the terms are different. His seminal work first appeared in a series of RAND studies published between 1960 and 1962 and then finally in the tome "On Distributed Communications," published in 1964.

  • Comment on RAND Building Program 1950

    After a few years in rented quarters, RAND began to plan for its own building to house its staff, including about 250 researchers. John Williams, head of the Mathematics Division, surfaced the idea for creating a building that would increase the probability of chance personal meetings. Such meetings, he argued, would promote the interdisciplinary aspect of RAND — the use of mixed teams of analysts in addressing a problem. Williams' December 26, 1950 memo to RAND staff built the case for a system of closed courts or patios — which led him to the theory of regular lattices, with average distances between points shown in a two-element matrix. The resulting set of patios, he felt, would ensure the maximum number of chance meetings and at the same time enhance, for the RAND staff, the qualities of privacy, quiet, natural light and air, and spaciousness.