George B. Dantzig
National Medal of Science
Mathematics And Computer Science
For inventing linear programming and discovering methods that led to wide-scale scientific and technical applications to important problems in logistics, scheduling, and network optimization, and to the use of computers in making efficient use of the mathematical theory.
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BirthNovember 8, 1914
Country of BirthUSA
Key ContributionsInvented Linear Programming
Awarded byGerald R. Ford
EducationUniversity of Maryland, College Park
University of California, Berkeley
Areas of ImpactCommunication & Information
A Baltic German mathematician named his son after George Bernard Shaw, hoping he might become a writer one day.
But the world of words didn’t suit George Bernard Dantzig.
By high school, geometry problems fascinated the young scholar, who enrolled in the math and physics program at the University of Maryland.
After finishing his doctorate, he rejected a teaching job to serve as mathematical advisor for the U.S. Air Force Comptroller’s Office, hoping to use his skills to solve real-world problems.
In 1947, Dantzig developed the “simplex algorithm,” a popular tool in linear programming.
The algorithm, used today in a variety of industries, enables mathematicians to develop models to consider many variables in making cost-benefit decisions.
“All such problems can be formulated as mathematical programming problems,” he wrote. “Naturally, we can propose many sophisticated algorithms and a theory but the final test of a theory is its capacity to solve the problems which originated it."