The Nation’s Largest African American Video Oral History Collection Mobile search icon Mobile close search icon
Advanced Biography Search
Mobile navigation icon Close mobile navigation icon

city

Cedric The Entertainer

Actor and comedian Cedric “The Entertainer” Kyles was born on April 24, 1964 in Jefferson City, Missouri to Kittrell Kyles and Rosetta Boyce Kyles. After junior high school, Kyles and his family moved to Berkeley, Missouri, where he graduated from Berkeley High School in 1982. Kyles received his B.A. degree in mass communication from Southeast Missouri State University in 1987, and was hired at State Farm Insurance. He began performing stand-up comedy around the same time, and was a winner of the Miller Lite Comedy Search in 1990.

Kyles first appeared on television in 1992, on the variety show, It’s Showtime at the Apollo. The following year, he served as host of BET’s ComicView, and in 1995, he hosted HBO’s Def Comedy Jam. Kyles started the Cedric the Entertainer Charitable Foundation, Inc. in 1995 with his sister in St. Louis, Missouri. He got his big break on television as Cedric “Jackie” Robinson, a supporting role on The Steve Harvey Show, in 1996. Kyles then toured for two years with his co-star Steve Harvey, and comedians Bernie Mac and D.L. Hughley on the highest selling and most popular comedy tour of all time, The Kings of Comedy tour. The tour was filmed by Spike Lee and later made into a film, The Original Kings of Comedy, which grossed $40 million, and catapulted the careers of Kyles and his tour mates.

Kyles made his film debut in 1998 in the movie Ride. He went on to appear in over thirty films, including Big Momma’s House, Ice Age, the Barbershop franchise, the Madagascar franchise, Johnson Family Vacation, The Honeymooners, Code Name: The Cleaner, and the Planes franchise. Kyles also narrated the animated series The Proud Family, starting in 2001. In 2002, he co-founded his own production company, A Bird and A Bear Entertainment. He made his directorial debut in 2010 with the film, Dance Fu. Kyles also hosted the game shows It’s Worth What? and Who Wants to be a Millionaire, and received the lead role in a new sitcom in 2012, The Soul Man.

Kyles was recognized by BET in 1994 for his work as host of ComicView with the Richard Pryor Comic of the Year Award. He received four NAACP Image Awards for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy for his work on The Steve Harvey Show, and another for his voice-acting in The Proud Family. Comedy Central placed Kyles on its “100 Greatest Stand-Ups of All Time” in 2004, and he was selected as lead comedian for the White House Correspondents’ Dinner in 2005. He was inducted into the St. Louis Walk of Fame in 2008.

Cedric “The Entertainer” Kyles was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on July 31, 2014.

Accession Number

A2014.192

Sex

Male

Interview Date

7/31/2014

Last Name

Kyles

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Antonio

Occupation
Schools

Berkeley High School

Southeast Missouri State University

First Name

Cedric

Birth City, State, Country

Jefferson City

HM ID

KYL02

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Missouri

Favorite Vacation Destination

Turks and Caicos Islands

Favorite Quote

I Wish A Motherfucker Would.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

California

Birth Date

4/24/1964

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Los Angeles

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Pizza

Short Description

Film actor and comedian Cedric The Entertainer (1964 - ) was one of the original Kings of Comedy. He starred in the television sitcom ‘The Steve Harvey Show’ and the ‘Barbershop’ film franchise.

Employment

State Farm Insurance

Black Entertainment Television

Home Box Office

WB Television Network

The Kings of Comedy Tour

Anheuser–Busch InBev

The Disney Channel

A Bird and A Bear Entertainment

Favorite Color

Chocolate Brown

Timing Pairs
0,0:7040,220:11360,300:12000,312:13600,331:39500,480:46240,558:64926,872:65218,950:65656,957:73306,1051:79468,1147:84603,1256:108604,1715:110676,1777:135449,2085:136179,2168:141143,2286:160710,2498$0,0:2880,61:7840,180:26660,478:31835,584:32249,591:33422,612:37976,726:48940,850:50344,874:72660,1356:114695,1888:119345,2008:131366,2177:134678,2245:141158,2333:141518,2339:149045,2420:149420,2426:168352,2751:169342,2781:171916,2847:172708,2863:173368,2888:179750,2983
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Cedric The Entertainer's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Cedric The Entertainer lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Cedric The Entertainer talks about his maternal grandparents' occupations

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Cedric The Entertainer describes his mother's education, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Cedric The Entertainer describes his mother's education, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Cedric The Entertainer describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Cedric The Entertainer describes his father's education

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Cedric The Entertainer talks about his parents' marriage

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Cedric The Entertainer describes his likeness to his parents

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Cedric The Entertainer talks about his sister

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Cedric The Entertainer describes his neighborhood in Caruthersville, Missouri

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Cedric The Entertainer talks about his mother's social life and career

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Cedric The Entertainer describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Cedric The Entertainer remembers his early personality

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Cedric The Entertainer remembers changing his name, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Cedric The Entertainer recalls the television programs of his youth

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Cedric The Entertainer remembers his home life

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Cedric The Entertainer remembers the crack cocaine epidemic

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Cedric The Entertainer remembers moving to Berkeley, Missouri

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Cedric The Entertainer describes his early experiences of religion

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Cedric The Entertainer recalls lessons from his mother

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Cedric The Entertainer recalls his activities at Berkeley High School in Berkeley, Missouri

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Cedric The Entertainer remembers his decision to attend college

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Cedric The Entertainer talks about the popular culture of his youth

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Cedric The Entertainer remembers changing his name, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Cedric The Entertainer talks about his influential teachers

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Cedric The Entertainer describes his early male role models

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Cedric The Entertainer describes the barbershop culture in Berkeley, Missouri

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Cedric The Entertainer talks about his observational skills

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Cedric The Entertainer remembers meeting Eric Rhone

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Cedric The Entertainer recalls choosing a major at Southeast Missouri State University

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Cedric The Entertainer recalls his start at Southeast Missouri State University in Cape Girardeau, Missouri

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Cedric The Entertainer describes his early experiences in entertainment news media

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Cedric The Entertainer recalls his experiences at Southeast Missouri State University in Cape Girardeau, Missouri

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Cedric The Entertainer remembers working as an insurance claims adjuster

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Cedric The Entertainer remembers the Johnnie Walker National Comedy Search

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Cedric The Entertainer talks about his comedic writing process

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Cedric The Entertainer describes his experiences of heckling

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Cedric The Entertainer remembers joining the Funny Bone comedy club circuit

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Cedric The Entertainer recalls performing at Steve Harvey's comedy club in Dallas, Texas

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Cedric The Entertainer describes his mother's support for his comedy career

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Cedric The Entertainer talks about the black comedy club scene

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Cedric The Entertainer remembers winning the Miller Lite Comedy Search

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Cedric The Entertainer recalls his appearance on 'Showtime at the Apollo'

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Cedric The Entertainer remembers becoming the host of 'ComicView' on BET

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Cedric The Entertainer talks about the comedic style of Richard Pryor

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Cedric The Entertainer talks about the Cedric The Entertainer Charitable Foundation, Inc.

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Cedric The Entertainer remembers hosting 'Def Comedy Jam'

Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Cedric The Entertainer recalls joining the cast of 'The Steve Harvey Show'

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Cedric The Entertainer remembers comedian Robin Harris

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Cedric The Entertainer remembers the Kings of Comedy tour

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Cedric The Entertainer talks about his roles on 'The Steve Harvey Show'

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Cedric The Entertainer talks about his character on 'The Soul Man'

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Cedric The Entertainer describes his transition from standup comedy to acting

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$6

DAStory

4$3

DATitle
Cedric The Entertainer remembers working as an insurance claims adjuster
Cedric The Entertainer talks about his roles on 'The Steve Harvey Show'
Transcript
So after Dan Rather takes your job away [at KFVS-TV, Cape Girardeau, Missouri]--$$(Shakes head).$$--so, what was, what was left? What did you decide to do?$$So, I had to go--had, you know I tucked my tail in and I went back to St. Louis [Missouri]. I tried to get into radio, so I you know I tried radio for a while, and I never really got a job. I got like an intern job at--I was trying to remember the call letters. (Pause) It was an intern job, I didn't keep it. And so I eventually got a job selling fax machines, and it was in the new era when fax machines was the hot thing. And I just, you know, I ended up going on that pattern for a while, working at Best Buy [Best Buy Co., Inc.] when they came in selling electronics for the holidays. And then, eventually landed at State Farm where I became a claims adjuster.$$Right. Now, yeah you write about that in your book ['Grown A$$ Man,' Cedric The Entertainer] that you became an expert claims adjuster in terms of dealing with difficult people (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) Yeah, with difficult black people, right, yeah. I was bilingual, that's what I told them--I spoke regular English and angry Negro (laughter). Because black people would come in there and they would really be--they would have people really scared about their cars, like, just arguing and cussing at the top of their voice about how they--you know, they got a ding on their door and they need a whole new door. You know, "Somebody knocked my bumper out. I--this car is totaled, I need a new one." You know, and be--having everybody all up in arms and people getting scared. And I was like, I just remember a guy coming in, "I'll blow this building up," and everybody was scared. And I said, "Look, black people can't get dynamite. That man ain't going to blow nothing up. Let me go out there and talk to him." (Laughter) So, you know.$$So you were able to keep it real.$$Yeah, just go out there. Keep it real, get people to calm down. Like, "Look, you're not going to get anything this way. Let me see what I can do for you." And so that was one of the reasons I started to be promoted quite a bit at State Farm, is that I had the skillset to be able to just kind of calm people down. But I was a really bad claims adjuster. Like, I just, I was young. I'd, you know, hang out all night and party and then just show up and do work. So, I would have files on my desk. People would be in a rental car for three months messing with me (laughter).$Now back to the show. Now you're, you play a teacher in the show.$$Yeah, the gym coach [Cedric Jackie Robinson].$$Okay, all right. And did you have a--I mean I know the show had writers. But how much influence did you have over the material that was presented on the show?$$Well, we had great writers on the show. But again, because we were standups, I mean it was a lot of trust to both Steve [Steve Harvey] and myself. If we didn't like a joke or we had something better that we wanted to say, well, they gave us the reins to be able to do that. And so, but we had a bunch of really great writers on the show. So it was all about performance and delivery, but I would definitely add a lot of stuff in that, you know, that made the show. That was just--that ended up becoming my brand, like, through most of the projects I do. It was like, just ad lib. Like, "Do this. And now Ced [HistoryMaker Cedric The Entertainer], do your thing."$$Yeah you had two significant co-stars, too.$$Yeah, yeah, yeah. I mean Wendy Raquel Robinson and Terri J. Vaughn, who played Lovita Alize [Lovita Alize Jenkins Robinson] on the show. And she was great; and of course, you know, me and Steve. And the cast was just great all around. People loved Merlin Santana. And, there was Romeo [Romeo Santana] and Bullethead [Stanley "Bullethead" Kuznocki]. People loved all the characters.$$Okay, okay. Do you have a favorite moment from the show?$$Seem like--one of my favorite moments from 'The Steve Harvey Show,' I had a couple of them. One was, you know, I introduced the character Grandma Puddin', where I used to be like--this was before Tyler Perry, you know, who did the Madea. But the mean grandmother kind of lady and, she was funny; she hated Steve. That was a fun character to play. But one of my, probably one of my favorite memories on there was--it was a couple. It was the group, the High Tops [Steve Hightower and the High Tops], when we sang 'When the Funk Hits the Fan.' We would have the little outfits on, and Ron Isley [Ronald Isley] was a part of it, and that was fun. So we were this old group, and we would get up and perform. And those would be fun shows where we'd be up dancing and performing. And then one that I remember was doing a dance where I was trying to choreograph the girls. They had, some young girls were there, and I was showing them moves, and I did the difference between Janet Jackson and Britney [Britney Spears]. I was like, told them, "This is Janet," (gesture). And it was the same move, but one was left and one was right. I just remember that I improv-ed it, and it just blew up--like the crowd--and I did it without any of the producers knowing I was going to do it. And that's, and it just killed. And that's one of my favorite moments on the show that I can remember. It was like, I just did it. I just did it, like, I was like, I'm just going to do it right now. And it just worked, and so--and everybody went crazy.

William Massey

Mathematician William A. Massey was born in 1956 in Jefferson City, Missouri; the younger of two sons of Richard A. Massey, Sr. and Juliette Massey. Massey attended the public schools of St. Louis, Missouri and high school in University City, a suburb of St. Louis. Upon graduating from University City High School, Massey received a Harvard Book Award and a National Achievement Scholarship. He enrolled at Princeton University in 1973 and encountered his first real introduction to research mathematics in an honor calculus course taught by the late Ralph Fox. Massey wrote his undergraduate senior thesis, “Galois Connections on Local Fields,” under the direction of Bernard Dwork, and graduated from Princeton in 1977 with his A.B. degree in mathematics with honors – magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa, and Sigma Xi. Massey was then awarded a Bell Labs Cooperative Research Fellowship for minorities to attend graduate school in the department of mathematics at Stanford University. Massey wrote his doctoral theses, “Non-Stationary Ques,” under the supervision of Joseph Keller, and graduated from Stanford University in 1981 with his Ph.D. degree in mathematics.

In 1981, Massey became a member of the technical staff in the Mathematical Sciences Research Center at Bell Laboratories, a division of Lucent Technologies. His research there included queuing theory, applied probability, stochastic processes, and the performance modeling of telecommunication systems. Massey published over fifty papers in those areas, one of which credits him as the co-author of a U.S. Patent on server staffing. In the area of mentoring, Massey has organized every annual Conference for African American Researchers in the Mathematical Sciences, which he co-founded in 1995. He founded the Council for African American Researchers in the Mathematical Sciences (1996) and is a lifetime member of the National Association of Mathematicians (NAM). In 2001, Massey was named the Edwin S. Wilsey Professor of Operations, Research, and Financial Engineering at Princeton University, making him the first tenured African American mathematician at an Ivy League University.

Massey received the Distinguished Service Award from NAM in 1996 and was invited to give its William W. S. Clayton Lecture. He has given invited lectures at the American Mathematical Society national conference, the Congreso Nacional de la Sociedad Matematica Mexicana, and the Edward Bouchet Conference for African and African American Physicists and Mathematicians that were held in Ghana, Canada, and Germany. The Blackwell-Tapia Prize Committee awarded Massey its 2006 prize and U.S. Black Engineer and Technology magazine honored Massey as the Black Engineer of the Year in 2008.

William A. Massey was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on March 8, 2013.

Accession Number

A2013.065

Sex

Male

Interview Date

3/8/2013

Last Name

Massey

Maker Category
Occupation
Schools

University City High School

Princeton University

Stanford University

Search Occupation Category
First Name

William

Birth City, State, Country

Jefferson City

HM ID

MAS08

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Missouri

Favorite Vacation Destination

Paris, France

Favorite Quote

Think outside the hypercube.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New Jersey

Birth Date

9/4/1956

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Piscataway

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Steamed Crab Legs

Short Description

Mathematician William Massey (1956 - ) , co-founder of the Conference for African American Researchers in the Mathematical Sciences, became the first tenured African American mathematician at an Ivy League University when he was named Edwin S. Wilsey Professor of Operations, Research, and Financial Engineering at Princeton University.

Employment

Bell Laboratories

Princeton University

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
0,0:2060,28:3035,49:22185,319:22863,326:23315,331:24106,340:26567,359:26811,364:28519,416:34479,455:35489,467:40795,503:44507,514:46251,540:46687,545:47232,551:49838,577:50251,585:50487,590:52390,598:52726,607:53014,614:55939,647:57519,679:58072,687:58546,694:59099,703:59494,711:69340,770:70860,801:76220,822:78320,865:78670,871:79650,889:84810,905:85770,928:89666,967:90602,980:90914,985:95307,1046:96413,1068:96887,1076:101807,1132:107380,1183:107680,1193:110560,1244:111280,1257:114105,1277:114325,1283:114655,1290:114875,1295:115205,1302:115810,1315:116030,1320:116250,1325:116745,1335:119285,1343:121815,1377:127760,1423:128475,1436:129125,1448:129710,1463:130425,1477:131075,1493:131335,1498:135000,1528:135490,1537:135910,1544:137730,1588:138500,1607:138850,1613:141225,1648:142400,1663:143288,1676:146508,1701:146756,1706:147376,1717:148306,1738:148678,1745:148926,1750:149174,1755:156920,1816:157622,1828:158246,1841:161288,1913:162926,2131:163706,2153:168762,2191:170003,2214:170660,2224:175050,2263:175470,2272:178380,2287:186650,2424:188015,2453:194090,2511:194630,2525:194990,2539:195230,2544:195710,2553:196250,2564:201549,2651:201785,2656:202316,2666:203437,2700:203968,2710:204440,2720:208260,2748:208740,2757:209040,2763:211620,2816:212160,2826:212640,2836:219854,2889:220372,2897:222672,2914:225412,2941:226050,2955:227152,2992:227790,3004:240684,3161:247710,3201:248256,3210:257029,3275:257656,3289:258568,3310:258910,3318:259366,3331:264378,3397:264847,3406:265383,3420:265986,3431:266790,3448:267326,3458:269720,3481:270224,3491:270448,3496:270672,3501:271288,3513:275175,3585:275395,3590:279460,3641:280175,3653:280630,3661:281280,3673:281605,3679:281995,3686:284330,3700:285030,3714:285660,3722:285940,3727:286430,3735:287550,3758:288040,3766:290440,3785:291070,3793:292150,3810:292780,3821:300298,3878:302274,3916:303034,3931:305162,3972:305846,3982:306226,3988:310045,4003:311678,4044:312246,4054:312743,4062:314944,4102:315228,4107:318650,4131:319820,4147:320360,4155:320720,4160:321260,4168:324132,4186:325924,4234:329948,4284:330608,4297:331334,4317:334530,4359:334943,4368:339200,4416:340880,4442:341972,4457:345015,4472:345428,4481:345900,4491:348850,4550:352318,4568:352996,4575:358470,4615:360085,4635:363465,4670:363701,4675:363937,4680:366980,4736:368006,4765:368234,4770:368462,4775:368861,4784:371660,4795:372860,4837:377598,4867:377942,4872:378458,4879:384170,4902:385150,4925:386760,4957:387040,4962:389210,5002:398304,5076:398634,5082:399228,5104:400020,5125:404914,5166:406860,5172:407322,5181:410490,5254:410886,5261:413394,5317:413922,5326:416510,5332:417050,5339:418130,5350:422038,5387:422798,5396:423178,5403:423786,5412:427075,5454:427525,5461:431350,5522:431650,5528:435250,5620:439974,5643:440466,5650:440794,5655:442024,5673:444156,5705:450198,5737:452190,5747:452550,5754:452910,5765:457917,5838:458646,5861:459699,5878:461076,5912:462210,5941:462777,5950:463101,5955:467290,5969:467920,5993:473056,6073:473436,6079:473740,6084:474272,6093:476720,6104:477210,6114:478190,6132:480835,6157:481440,6176:481715,6182:481935,6187:482265,6194:482760,6205:483200,6215:483530,6222:487835,6240:489095,6264:490103,6284:494052,6331:495162,6347:496272,6386:497086,6407:498196,6421:498640,6428:502632,6438:502888,6444:505000,6500:506152,6526:509838,6561:513132,6589:513860,6598:514692,6609:516542,6614:519972,6635:520910,6651:521513,6661:521982,6670:525622,6715:526636,6730:530388,6765:530724,6770:531648,6784:531984,6790:535428,6806:537478,6841:542158,6879:542503,6886:543331,6898:544366,6917:544642,6922:548900,6982:551750,6997$0,0:8352,96:10695,181:26730,273:27750,302:28170,310:28650,319:29130,329:29610,339:29910,345:31938,353:33122,370:33640,378:34528,394:35120,403:35860,416:44152,452:45560,487:53076,612:56208,665:57948,688:58296,693:61361,713:61817,722:62216,727:62672,736:64518,753:65652,775:66849,801:69785,834:72922,846:73278,851:73634,856:78500,893:81180,903:81492,908:82038,917:83130,931:87602,963:87922,969:88242,976:89842,1017:90482,1028:95350,1041:96220,1083:101715,1113:102045,1121:102485,1131:103200,1147:104465,1190:108910,1243:109215,1249:114600,1310:115032,1318:115536,1327:117552,1377:117912,1383:121460,1412:121910,1418:122450,1426:122990,1433:123350,1438:123980,1452:125150,1474:125600,1480:134571,1550:139940,1599:140577,1608:141123,1615:141487,1620:145491,1714:146037,1721:149156,1737:149528,1742:153110,1768:153740,1779:155910,1792:156246,1797:156582,1802:157254,1812:162022,1860:162498,1869:162838,1878:163314,1886:170382,1946:170792,1952:173170,2028:173498,2033:173826,2038:177480,2083:177712,2088:177944,2093:178292,2101:180854,2127:181244,2134:182414,2164:182882,2171:184364,2196:184754,2202:185612,2217:186080,2225:186392,2230:195236,2348:195532,2353:196642,2368:198613,2393:199021,2403:199327,2410:199939,2428:201789,2450:202359,2463:203994,2485:204951,2505:205473,2513:206604,2545:206952,2550:207300,2555:210761,2569:211176,2576:211840,2586:212670,2595:213002,2600:213832,2617:216319,2631:216637,2639:216849,2644:217273,2654:217591,2662:223632,2701:224784,2717:225168,2724:225744,2734:226448,2756:226832,2763:227408,2776:227792,2783:228240,2791:231230,2796:231458,2801:232142,2812:232484,2819:234023,2859:237571,2873:237839,2879:238107,2884:239246,2912:239514,2917:240117,2927:240720,2941:241524,2967:244412,2981:244736,2988:244952,2993:245222,3000:249614,3055:249870,3062:252670,3074:252970,3079:254395,3097:255145,3110:258492,3140:258888,3148:259218,3154:259680,3163:262460,3184:262845,3192:263230,3209:263505,3215:263890,3224:264165,3230:267514,3265:272387,3296:273097,3307:275592,3315:276968,3337:281870,3372:283094,3395:283382,3400:284606,3437:285326,3457:285614,3462:287804,3477:289738,3492:290266,3501:291190,3525:291454,3535:291784,3542:292312,3551:293434,3582:293764,3588:294094,3594:294556,3607:297766,3633:298346,3646:299680,3674:300086,3682:300492,3694:300782,3700:301362,3712:307360,3741
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of William Massey's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - William Massey lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - William Massey describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - William Massey describes his mother's education and her career as a teacher

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - William Massey describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - William Massey talks about his parents' employment in Missouri

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - William Massey talks about his parents' personalities and who he takes after

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - William Massey describes his childhood's neighborhood in St. Louis, Missouri

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - William Massey describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - William Massey describes the sights, smells and sounds of growing up

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - William Massey describes his childhood interests

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - William Massey discusses the portrayal of black scientists on television

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - William Massey describes his childhood toys

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - William Massey describes his experience in grade school and his early interest in mathematics and drawing

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - William Massey talks about his childhood friends

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - William Massey talks about the political atmosphere in the 1960s

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - William Massey talks about his experience in a mixed-race schooling system

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - William Massey talks about attending church as a child

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - William Massey describes his involvement with church and in sports while growing up

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - William Massey talks about his training in mathematics in school

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - William Massey discusses his summer jobs, and his high school activities and achievements

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - William Massey describes his decision to attend Princeton University

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - William Massey describes his experience at Princeton University

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - William Massey discusses his concerns about education and violence in the African American community

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - William Massey talks about the misrepresentation of statistics in the media

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - William Massey describes his mathematics coursework at Princeton University

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - William Massey describes his senior thesis on Galois connections on local fields

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - William Massey describes his experience at Bell Labs

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - William Massey talks about African American scientists at Bell Labs in the 1960s

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - William Massey describes the queueing theory and his dissertation research on non-stationary queues

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - William Massey talks about his Ph.D. thesis advisor, Joseph Keller

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - William Massey describes his experience as a doctoral student at Stanford University and his summer experience at Bell Labs

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - William Massey talks about his contemporary generation of African American mathematicians

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - William Massey describes his decision to work at Bell Labs and explains the queueing theory

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - William Massey talks about his research at Bell Labs in the 1980s and 1990s

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - William Massey describes the concept of Jackson networks

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - William Massey talks about other African American mathematicians at Bell Labs and in academia

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - William Massey describes his most significant research contributions at Bell Labs

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - William Massey describes how his research has advanced the theory of dynamic rate queues

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - William Massey describes his involvement in establishing the Conference for African American Researchers in the Mathematical Sciences (CAARMS)

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - William Massey describes his involvement in mentoring students

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - William Massey describes his research in congestion pricing, and his transition from Bell Labs to Princeton University

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - William Massey describes his decision to accept a professorship at Princeton University in 2001

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - William Massey describes his current research in decision-making, at Princeton University

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - William Massey talks about his involvement with the National Association of Mathematicians (NAM) and the African American legacy at Bell Labs

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - William Massey talks about his professional awards

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - William Massey talks about his mentorship of African American students

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - William Massey reflects upon his career's legacy

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - William Massey reflects upon his career's choices

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - William Massey describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - William Massey describes the role of African American organizations in discussing social issues

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - William Massey talks about how he would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

7$5

DAStory

3$6

DATitle
William Massey describes his current research in decision-making, at Princeton University
William Massey describes his decision to work at Bell Labs and explains the queueing theory
Transcript
So, now you continued to do research at a higher level here [Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey] according to all the paper citations I have on you in this album. I'm not sure it's not comprehensive. But can you just kind of summarize what your research has been here?$$Well, here it was getting into--well, moving over from the world of--well, at Bell Labs [New Jersey], they were called queueing theory performance modeling. So, what I call modeling is that, sort of the deliverable for a model is a forecast, you know. So a good model gives you--enables you to predict what goes on with the actual system. So I didn't do a lot of that. As I got to Princeton, I started moving into the area of decision-making. So, now the deliverable is, instead of a forecast, the deliverable is a policy. And so--and then for communications, there seems to be three different natural types of, well, areas we would develop decision-making policies, and just for alliteration sake since, you know, performance begins with the letter P, these three I called--well, first I just thought there were two, you know, provisioning and pricing. And so, now, if you're not obsessed with using the letter P, then provisioning; another way of saying provisioning will be design, you know; having just enough resources to make your customers happy. Pricing is--would be sort of like control, you know; how to--you use prices and mechanism to control the demand for the services, and then, you know, this gives you a way of--well, you have two things where, on one hand you want to maximum your profit, but on the other hand you don't want to violate the constraints of creating bad service. So you want to keep congestion constrained to be no higher than this level. So what's fun about, you know, being in an executive setting and having Ph.D. students, so you're, you know--so this is kind of the setting I gave to Robert [Hampshire; Massey's student who is now on the faculty of the School of Public Policy and Information Sciences at Heinz College, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania] and I kind of had this nice picture, you know, of performance and then--performance for modeling, but then for issues of decision-making, the two Ps, you know, pricing, provisioning. Then a few months into it, he comes back to me and says, "Shouldn't there be a third P here?" "What do you mean?" "Well, I think there should be one on--but--well, later we were going to call it "prioritization." And you only think of that when you have multiple classes of customers. So you don't assume all the class--customers are the same. You know, they have different needs, they have--they can afford different levels of service; and so, how do you allocate these resources. What's the fairest way to allocate these resources among the different classes of customers? You know, so that's another issue, you know, paper we're still--what we developed, we have the paper but that's--one of my outstanding papers we need to finish up and write up and kick out the door. But we got some from out of the thesis, you know; through collaboration, we got some of the papers, you know, from it. And, so now what I'm doing with Jamal, is that we have these--well, it's an essential object that's called the dynamical system, which is the solution of ordinary differential equations. In the twenty-first century, thanks to the computers, these are easing things to solve. So, if you can formulate some more complicated system in terms of dynamical systems, you almost feel you have a closed form solution. And we used--with Robert I used this to approximate average behavior of these random systems. And then we would control that average behavior, so we'll see average profit through the average revenue. And so what's the strategy that optimizes that? But now, when you look at more stochastic systems--well, I have colleagues who were in finance. They worry a lot about decisions under risk. Because things aren't completely deterministic. There's a certain randomness involved. So there's a risk that occurs. But how do you maximize in the face of that type of risk? And so, it turns out you got to understand things like the variance standard deviation, and it turns out the formulas, we have to approximate those; (unclear) approximate those aren't quite as good as the ones that approximate the mean. So with Jamal, his thesis is developing new techniques. I guess he would say it's involving stuff like skewness approximation, cumulate moments; and give better estimates of the variants. So we could extend this sort of decision-making to, you know, deal with more uncertainty. You know, like, you want to maximize your profit, but you only want to take this level of risk. You know, how do you, you know, how do you do that? And then, now I have a most recent student, Jerome--major move I'm making now is that, up to now, everything has been related to communication, communication services; but I found writing up this, you know, in the act of writing up these papers I've done with Robert or, you know, having do up his thesis, I just realized that, when you look at communication services--okay, so--and, of course, when you're no longer working for a phone company, you know, you feel free to thinking about things outside of telephony. But what's communication services from a business perspective? It's sort of the leasing of shared resources. You know, with your cell phone. You don't buy a radio channel. You know, in effect, you're paying for the leasing of it through the rate of your conversation. And so, that's what we're studying in general, so like Robert is in a department of--I guess it's the School of Public Policy and Management [Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania]. And, well, once I made this discovery, I was happy, you know, so I was telling Robert, you know, "You'll be happy to know that a set of tools--," since he's an expert in, you know, he trained to be an expert in queueing theory, "--a set of tools that help you study, you know, the leasing of shared resources, you know, may come in, you know, handy when you're looking at issues of public policy." And so, he's looked at them and applied to areas of transportation. Now, recently, what I've been doing is, a new area a lot of people in operations and research are getting excited by is health care, you know, because, like, in health care, you don't--you go to the hospital, you don't buy a hospital bed; you lease it for the duration of your stay. And then you have a lot more issues of, you know, coordination of different types of resources. So you have this whole elaborate choreograph of resources that all come to bear on your specific, you know, issue. And so, there's a lot of--there's a lot of room for queueing analysis, you know, there, because the problems are a lot more complex than--a lot of problems that's on the communication systems.$$Okay.$Okay. So 1981 when you finished Stanford [University, Palo Alto, California], did you have any doubt that you were going to be working for Bell Labs [New Jersey]? (laughs)$$Oh, no doubt.$$All right.$$Because it just seemed like such a, you know, a congenial environment. Also, I just got a chance to work on exciting problems, because I found that by focusing on this applied area looking at specific time varying queue, I as address the issues--the general theory of Markov processes didn't seem to be (touch it?).$$Okay. So you contributed something new to the field of mathematics--$$Yeah.$$--over in this dissertation?$$Oh, yeah. Just studying--there was a classic queueing model with people who are very familiar with constant rates. And so I developed the sort of approximate or asymptotic theory when you had time-varying rates. And then from this new insight I could show--well, basically show that you could, if you analyze things the old way, you might make a mistake a come in, you know, come with a misleading conclusion. Because you think of--well, okay. So you think of--well, we'll make it simple; where the service rate is constant, so that doesn't change; you just have (unclear) rate. And you think of it, it's like water coming to a bucket at a certain rate, and it goes out--let's make it easy; it goes out at a unit rate. It drains in unit rate, water comes in, okay. Now, if the water rate is always less than the unit rate, then the bucket never fills up. And that's kind of like steady-state behavior. But if the water, incoming rate, exceeds the draining rate, then the bucket will fill up; and then over time, it'll just go all the way up to infinity. So that's sort of the static situation. But what happens if the input rate changes in time? Well, what will happen is that, it may start off being less than the unit rate but later it becomes higher; but later it'll drop back down. And so, the actual level goes up, but it's not going to go all the way up to infinity, it's going to come back down. So the big question is: When does it come back down to zero? And people used to think, Well, this is what's going to happen when the input rate--the first time the input rate is less than the draining rate. Of course, if you try that, you'll realize that's not true. You know, it's sort of--kind of like turning on the bathtub and the water is coming in faster than the draining rate. The minute you turn off the faucet, you know, the water level doesn't drop to zero immediately; it's going to take some time. And so what I showed is that, to talk about stay-state behavior, you have to wait until the time it takes for that part to drain out. And then what I was really surprised about, this is just a couple years ago, I didn't realize that this phenomenon really describes what's been going on with our economy. You know, when people say, you know, after this recession that they--we started a "recovery," the recovery that didn't feel like a recovery? What does that mean? Well, what economists call a recovery is like when you suddenly turn off the faucet and the, you know, the rate at which jobs are disappearing becomes smaller than the rate at which jobs are being created (coughs). That's called a recovery. But this backlog of unemployed people, that doesn't suddenly disappear. So economists may say, when the input rate is less than the draining rate, you know, in terms of, you know, lost jobs, that's a recovery. But everyday people are not going to feel like it's a recovery until, you know, that level of water drops back down to zero. And that's kind of where we are right now. You know, we're getting closer, but we're waiting for that to happen.$$Okay. Okay.