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Mathematical Optimization Society


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Alex Orden (1916-2008)

We are sorry to announce that Alex Orden passed away on Saturday, February 9, 2008. Alex was a founding Council member of MPS and served as Chair of MPS from 1983-86. He was renowned for his work on linear programming. In particular, he is credited with inventing the product-form inverse of the basis matrix, and was co-author with Dantzig and Wolfe of the seminal paper on the generalized simplex method (Pacific J. Math. 5 (1955), pp. 183-195). His contributions to our community were great and he will be much missed.

Alex Orden

Linear Programming Pioneer

August 9, 1916 - February 9, 2008

Alex Orden passed away February 9, 2008 at the University of Chicago Medical Center. Son of Abraham and Esther and born in Rochester New York in 1916, Alex graduated from the University of Rochester and received a masters degree in physics from the University of Michigan. During and after World War II he was in Washington and was a member of Project Scoop (Scientific Computation of Optimum Programs) which pioneered the development of linear programming models for logistical planning for the U.S. Air Force using the newly-invented simplex method and the first electronic computers. He was honored for this activity during the Air Force 60th anniversary in October 2007.

In 1946 Alex married Susan Rabinowitz in Manhattan and he received a Ph.D. in Mathematics from MIT in 1948. He came to the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business in 1958 as professor of applied mathematics with a specialty in linear and nonlinear programming and computer applications, after a six year career at Burroughs Corporation as manager of a computer programming and application development department. He was a member of the universitys Institute for Computer Research, visiting professor at the London School of Economics, Georgia Institute of Technology, Hebrew University in Jerusalem and the University of Maryland, chairman of the Mathematical Programming Society (1983-86), and a long-term research consult on computer application systems to Inland Steel Company and Amoco Oil Company.

Alex remained on the University of Chicago faculty until 1987 and continued to be active as professor emeritus until his death. He also taught at the Knowledge Systems Institute and the Wake Forest Graduate School of Management. He was active in Hyde Park peace groups and an avid Shakespearian, tennis player and traveler. He is survived by his sister Lillian Lukaczer in Washington DC, daughter Ruth Leitner and son-in-law Gabriel, living in Israel, Jeannie Orden and son-in-law Don Moskowitz, in Boston, and son David Orden and daughter-in-law Denise, in Maryland. He has eight grandchildren and three great grandchildren. His wife of 56 years Susan passed away in 2002.