R. Tyrrell Rockafellar

R. Tyrrell Rockafellar

Past Awards

INFORMS Elected Fellows: Awardee(s)

John von Neumann Theory Prize: Winner(s)

The 1999 John von Neumann Theory Prize was awarded to R. Tyrrell Rockafellar, for his fundamental contributions to the theoretical foundations of optimization, including convex optimization, nonsmooth analysis, and stochastic programming.

These fundamental contributions began as far back as 1963 when Rockafellar completed his landmark PhD dissertation, "Convex Functions and Dual Extremum Problems," at Harvard University. He then further developed this work into a book published in 1970, Convex Analysis, which has since been the standard reference on the subject. A particularly notable feature of this work was the origination of the perturbational duality theory that has become the fundamental tool of convex optimization. Applications of convex optimization now abound across the spectrum of our field.

More recently, Rockafellar has made equally fundamental contributions to nonsmooth analysis and to stochastic programming. Using the notions of epi-and proto-derivatives, he has created a systematic calculus for dealing with convex nondifferentiable functions. Together with Roger Wets, he also has introduced epiconvergence as a systematic device for modeling and analyzing the way optimization problems change. He has been using this methodology to extend and reshape the theory of differentiation for set-valued functions. His fairly recent work on scenario analysis, stochastic duality, and epiconvergence (some of it joint with Wets) promises to be an innovation of great future significance.

In addition to approximately 170 papers and his Convex Analysis book, Rockafellar is the author of five other books: Monotone Processes of Convex and Concave Type, Conjugate Duality and Optimization, The Theory of Subgradients and its Applications to Problems of Optimization: Convex and Nonconvex Functions, Network Flows and Monotropic Optimization, and most recently, Variational Analysis (joint with Roger Wets). He also has been very active in an editorial capacity with many journals. For example, he has served as either an area editor or an advisory editor for the INFORMS journal, Mathematics of Operations Research, ever since the founding of this journal in 1976.

Rockafellar is one of the most decorated members of our profession. In addition to two honorary doctorates, he has been a winner of the Dantzig Prize given jointly by SIAM and the Mathematical Programming Society, as well as the von Neumann Prize given by SIAM. INFORMS awarded him and Roger Wets the 1997 Lanchester Prize for their book, Variational Analysis. He is a true follower of the path trod by John von Neumann. Therefore, it is most fitting that he now joins the illustrious group of winners of the John von Neumann Theory Prize.

Frederick W. Lanchester Prize: Winner(s)

The 1997 Lanchester Prize is awarded to R. Tyrrell Rockafellar and Roger J-B Wets for their book Variational Analysis (Springer-Verlag, Berlin, 1998; published November 1997).

The Committee regards the contribution of this publication as twofold. First, it presents a systematic exposition and a unified treatment of subjects that previously were available only in widely scattered sources that used incompatible terminology. The book succeeds in pulling together these scattered results to create a unified and elegant whole, presented in a way that makes it accessible to a very broad audience. The result is a comprehensive presentation of modern methods for treating variational problems where differentiability is not present, motivated by and having numerous applications in operations research and management sciences, economics, engineering, and social sciences.

Equally important is its presentation of new ideas and new research results. The book provides advances in practically all the basic topics of modern optimization theory, including the technical tools needed to treat such problems as stability, sensitivity analysis, optimality conditions, and duality, bringing the reader up to the most recent achievements. In all, this book should serve as a landmark in the technical progress of optimization, an essential technical tool of operations research and the management sciences.