Merrill Meeks Flood (1908 – 1991) was an American mathematician, notable for developing, with Melvin Dresher, the basis of the game theoretical Prisoner's dilemma model of cooperation and conflict while being at RAND in 1950 (Albert W. Tucker gave the game its prison-sentence interpretation, and thus the name by which it is known today).
Flood received an MA in mathematics at the University of Nebraska, and a PhD at Princeton University in 1935 under the supervision of Joseph Wedderburn, for the dissertation Division by Non-singular Matric Polynomials.
In the 1950s Flood was one of the founding members of TIMS and its second President in 1955. End 1950s he was among the first members of the Society for General Systems Research. In 1961, he was elected President of the Operations Research Society of America (ORSA), and from 1962 to 1965 he served as Vice President of the Institute of Industrial Engineers. In 1983 he was awarded ORSA's George E. Kimball Medal.
Flood is considered a pioneer in the field of management science and operations research, who has been able to apply their techniques to problems on many levels of society. According to Xu (2001) "as early as 1936–1946, he applied innovative systems analysis to public problems and developed cost-benefit analysis in the civilian sector and cost effectiveness analysis in the military sector".
In the 1940s Flood publicized the name Traveling salesman problem (TSP) within the mathematical community at mass. Flood publicized the traveling salesman problem in 1948 by presenting it at the RAND Corporation. According to Flood "when I was struggling with the problem in connecting with a school-bus routing study in New Jersey".
Even more important, as far as common usage goes, Dr. Flood himself claimed to have coined the term "software" in the late 1940s.
Equally at home in his original field of the mathematics of matrices and in the pragmatic trenches of the industrial engineer, his research addressed an impressive array of operations research problems. His 1953 paper on the Hitchcock transportation problem is often cited, but he also published work on the traveling salesman problem, and an algorithm for solving the von Neumann hide and seek problem.