I am not at Mathematical Programming, but fearless blogger Tallys Yunes is, and he reported on the prizes given out yesterday (Tallys is also an example of the excellent students that come out of the Tepper School: a theme for this post). The Tepper School (Carnegie Mellon’s business school) did well, with Gérard Cornuéjols (faculty member at Tepper) winning the Dantzig Prize and Mohit Singh (recent graduate of our Algorithms, Combinatorics and Optimization Ph.D. program) winning the Tucker Prize.

The Dantzig Prize is given to the “one or more individuals for original research which by its originality, breadth and depth, is having a major impact on the field of mathematical programming.” The amazing thing about Gérard is that there are a number of distinct lines of research for which he could have been awarded this. In particular, he has done tremendous work in both integer programming and in characterizing and identifying various forms of matrices (ideal, perfect, balanced, and so on). He has also found time to put together a book on Optimization Methods in Finance based on his very successful Masters level course here.

The Tucker Prize is the doctoral dissertation prize for the Mathematical Programming Society. Mohit, now at Microsoft Research, did his dissertation with Tepper faculty member R. Ravi. Mohit has a number of nice papers on approximations for network design problems (and other things, including stochastic versions of hard combinatorial problems), using new techniques he developed. I am not normally a huge fan of approximation algorithms (“So our profits are within a factor of 3 of what is possible? Umm….”), but I really liked Mohit’s disseration. The iterative methods he developed are very powerful and might even have some practical use! We have had an extremely impressive group of students come out of our ACO program, particularly since we only admit a handful of students every year among the three groups.

There are not too many universities left where serious mathematical programming is done in the business school: I am proud to be part of one that is doing work at the very highest level. The only downside is that once in while my dean complains that I should publish more: “Look at your colleagues Balas, Cornuejols, Ravi….” And I guess he is right, though that is a pretty tough standard to meet.

**Added 11:20AM August 24. **Turns out I hit the topics for Gerard’s prize correctly. Here is the citation:

“You have been selected as the winner of the 2009 Dantzig Prize, in recognition for your deep and wide-ranging contributions to mathematical programming, including your work on Balanced and Ideal Matrices and Perfect Graphs and your leading role in the work on general cutting planes for mixed integer programming over many years covering both theory and computation.”

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