PGS Exclusive: Flows in Networks by L. R. Ford and D.R. Fulkerson, Back in Print

Back by popular demand! This phrase may seem out of place when applied to an academic monograph titled Flows in Networks, but as you’ll read below, this title truly has been in demand for a while. Mathematics Editor Vickie Kearn relates her long history with this book and how it came to be back in print this Fall.

The story of this reprint began in the late 1980s. I was working at the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics and was getting quite a few requests to reprint the Ford & Fulkerson book on Flows in Networks in the Classics in Applied Mathematics series. This is a wonderful series that reprints books that are out of print. There was no Google at the time so finding the copyright holder was not as easy a task as it is today. The book was originally published in 1962 and had been out of print for quite a long time so finding a copy was also difficult. Due to many other duties, I pursued this off and on but did not have much time to devote to the search.

I moved to Princeton University Press in 2001 and was looking at the titles in the Princeton Landmarks in Mathematics series (also a series of classic books that had been published in another series or that had gone out of print) and thought again about the Ford & Fulkerson. It really bothered me that I had not followed through on finding the copyright holder. In 2004 I was visiting David Williamson at Cornell and he suggested putting the Ford & Fulkerson back in print. I started to tell him my long history with this book and he told me he didn’t think it would be a problem since Princeton University Press had published the book. Since the book was out of print, I had no record of it. What a wonderful surprise that was!

The next thing I had to do was actually find a copy of the book. Although this might sound ridiculous, we did not have one in our warehouse and there were no copies in the Princeton University library. I began to think it was just not meant for this book to be in print. Once again, I drifted away from the project. In 2008 I was back at Cornell and met Bob Bland who also suggested I put the Ford & Fulkerson back in print. I started to tell my long, sad story but he stopped me in mid-sentence and handed me a copy of the book. I had run out of excuses. We had a wonderful conversation and he told me that Fulkerson had been his advisor. Bob and James Orlin have written a wonderful new foreword which describes the continued importance of this book and its many applications, almost 50 years after it was originally published. If there are any other Princeton University Press books that you would like to see back in print, let us know.