Arthur F. Veinott, Jr.

Arthur F. Veinott, Jr.

Past Awards

John von Neumann Theory Prize: Winner(s)

The 2007 John von Neumann Theory Prize is awarded by the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences to Arthur F. Veinott, Jr. for his profound contributions to three major areas of operations research and management science: inventory theory, dynamic programming and lattice programming. A unifying theme, both through his own research and through that of his many students, has been to find structure in optimal solutions.

Veinott’s early papers concentrated on supply chain optimization under uncertainty to facilitate the efficient supply of products. He was the first to address and find an optimal dynamic policy for a problem with multiple products and non-stationary demands. His contributions also include new conditions and a new proof of the optimality of (s,S) policies, the first efficient algorithm to compute optimal (s,S) policies, the study of the optimality of myopic inventory policies, as well as a very elegant tight-string solution to production planning with convex costs. Two of his papers in supply chain optimization are among the fifty most influential papers in Management Science published over the first fifty years of the journal. In addition, Veinott continued working with his students on this topic, most notably with Robin Roundy whose one-warehouse, multiple-retailers lot-sizing paper is also among the fifty most influential in Management Science.

Of equal impact is Veinott's work in dynamic programming. His emphasis has been on the development of a broad range of optimality concepts and system properties, enhanced with algorithms that efficiently produce optimal policies. In particular, he built on the existence results of Blackwell by developing algorithms for finding optimal policies for problems with small interest rates, revealing the structure of how optimal policies change in response to changes in interest rates. Furthermore, together with Uri Rothblum, he has introduced new optimality criteria for problems in which populations are managed over time as information unfolds in the presence of risk.

Veinott’s work in lattice programming lies in an area that has had a profound influence on the economics literature, and is known there as “comparative statics.” This theory is concerned with predicting the direction of change in global optima and equilibria that result when the problem inputs are increased or decreased. His contributions, and those of his student Donald Topkis, take advantage of keen insights into the types of problem structures that permit such conclusions and do not use calculus-based perturbation ideas.

Veinott was elected to the National Academy of Engineering (1986) for fundamental contributions to operations research and engineering theory and practice. He was selected as a Guggenheim Fellow (1978-79), an Inaugural Fellow of INFORMS (2002), and a Fellow of the Institute of Mathematical Statistics (1970). He was a founding member of the Department of Operations Research at Stanford and served as its Chair from 1975 to 1985. He also performed a great service to the community and to theory in Operations Research and Management Science as Founding Editor of Mathematics of Operations Research (1974-1980).

Award presented by Michael J. Todd, Chair, and Brenda Dietrich, President, November 4, 2007.

INFORMS Elected Fellows: Awardee(s)