The history of the optimization pioneer interviews

By Irvin Lustig posted 12-26-2013 09:51

From 2000-2001, ILOG funded a project to promote optimization to the masses, and created the site  This content was later donated to INFORMS. In August, 2000, the Mathematical Programming Society gave its set of "Founders Awards" to people who were considered founders of the field.  A picture and description can be found in their newsletter. I then presented the idea to the ILOG marketing people that we should video tape the founders telling the story of how they got involved in optimization, what their perspective was on the progress of the field, and mostly to get video of these people before they passed away. We did interviews of the following luminaries:
  • George Dantzig, March 5, 2001
  • Alan Hoffman, May 4, 2001
  • Phil Wolfe, May 4, 2001
  • Harold Kuhn, July 16, 2001
The videos were transcribed by ILOG contractors, who created full text summaries of the documents.  Then ILOG personnel and/or contractors selected the best parts of each interview, and those sections were posted to the e-optimization web site. The Internet Wayback Machine has the content for the Dantzig, Hoffman, and Wolfe interviews (but the video for Dantzig doesn't seem to work). We are working to get INFORMS to retrieve the content from the site donated by ILOG to INFORMS.

The interview for Kuhn was never transcribed.  Wolfe's interview was posted on September 9, 2001, and then the world changed two days later, and ILOG killed the project.

We have now posted the interviews, with transcripts as part of the INFORMS History & Traditions project.  They are available here:




03-21-2016 16:38

All four of the videos have now been incorporated into the INFORMS history site, at, together with simultaneous and downloadable transcripts.

02-07-2014 13:25

Good for you for taking this initiative. Obviously, we need to get the Kuhn interview transcribed.

12-26-2013 16:09

Thanks, Irv. (I had not realized that the project was a casualty of 9/11).