Today, I spent most of my day in the hotel room working on my presentation. A little after 5pm, I started walking toward the Chicago Symphony Center. The weather was very pleasant and there were plenty of street performers along Michigan Ave.
The waiting room outside the Orchestra Hall was packed by 5:40. Everyone seemed anxious to get in. I was curious to know who the prize winners were, so I reached for the printed program. Here they are:
- Dantzig Prize: Gérard Cornuéjols
- Tucker Prize: Mohit Singh (we were quasi office mates at Tepper!). Tobias Achterberg and Jiawang Nie were the other finalists.
- Lagrange Prize in Continuous Optimization: Jean Bernard Lasserre
- Beale-Orchard-Hays Prize: Tobias Achterberg (for his work on SCIP)
- Fulkerson Prize (awarded to three research groups):
- Maria Chudnovsky, Neil Robertson, Paul Seymour and Robin Thomas (for proving the Strong Perfect Graph conjecture).
- Daniel Spielman and Shang-Hua Teng (for their paper on smoothed analysis of algorithms: why the Simplex method usually takes polynomial time)
- Thomas Hales and Samuel Ferguson (for proving the Kepler conjecture)
The program started with introductory remarks by John Birge, whose speech included comments about the very first (zero-th) symposium (49 participants, 48 men; many seminal papers, including Dantzig’s description of the Simplex method). There will be a book (for sale?) about the history of the symposium, but I am still not sure about how/when/where to get it. Stephen Wright was next. He talked about the Mathematical Programming Society, thanked the numerous volunteers for their hard work and mentioned some of the latest developments, including changes to Optima (the MPS newsletter) and the web site mathprog.org.
After that, the awardees were called on stage and received their well-deserved prizes. Five members of the Fulkerson family were present and four of them stepped up on the stage right before the distribution of the Fulkerson prizes. At the end, a member of the Fulkerson family stated that they intend to continue to support the prize and handed a check to George Nemhauser.
Following the award ceremony, the Midwest Young Artists (MYA) Big Band gave a most delightful performance. Before each piece, directors/advisors of the MYA took turns talking about the history of jazz in Chicago and explaining a bit about the piece we were about to hear. I was very impressed with the talent of the (very) young musicians on the band. The repertoire included arrangements and songs made famous by renowned musicians like Benny Goodman, Quincy Jones, William Rousseau and Louis Armstrong (e.g. Struttin’ with Some Barbecue).
The funny statement of the night was made by one of MYA’s advisors/directors/conductors who was explaining how he sees the connection between music and math. He mentioned that some musical concepts can be explained through numbers, and that studies have shown that kids who learn to play an instrument tend to perform better in school. He finished by saying “Mathematicians help us, and we help the math”. The crowd laughed.
It was about 8pm when we started walking back toward the Marriott, where the reception took place. It felt pretty much like an INFORMS general reception, except that there were many fewer people in suits (no job interviews). It was very well attended, and I managed to have a quick chat with some old friends.
Time to go to bed, but before that I have to plan my day for tomorrow. I haven’t chosen the sessions I’m going to attend yet. So many interesting talks, but not enough time. I’ve included some pictures below. Enjoy!
Gérard Cornuéjols’s Dantzig Prize speech:
Bill Cook and members of the Fulkerson family
MYA Jazz Band