Who is John Boyd?


…and why is he talking about my work???

My son is Air Force, so I had heard of the OODA loop several times and thought it boring—too simple! I ran into this book 51dU1i1+AiL._AA160_at a used book store. A quick glance through the chapter titled “OODA Loop” convinced me that it sounded too simple because others had made it simple by linearizing it.

Over the next couple days, I have read that chapter four times, both marking it up & taking notes. That gives it 5 stars on my scale. Then a quick Google search brought up 5 blogs and pages (example) that should give me starting points. I’ll be spending some time with this, and writing up points I think I understand.

What genuinely struck me on the first reading was that, decades before me, he was describing the same four qualities as I had described in my dissertation (2004) and later conference papers. The difference is that I defined them as measurable Performance Dimensions. That will be my first topic, because I’m feeling a bit like Mandelbrot when he asked “How is it you have my illustrations up before my lecture?”

As a late-life grad student, I was not interested in starting a faculty line, or really even a corporate career, so I continued designing and teaching. I had always felt like my work was obvious enough that others had done much of it, though I could not find evidence of that. I see here that I did not find Boyd’s work in academic forums for the simple reason, as Coram says, he never really wrote anything. Thank you, Robert Coram, and Chuck Spinney, for offering me a thread!

Copyright Herbert N. Maier, 2015