INFORMS Lanchester Awarded to Dr. William J. Cook

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William J. Cook, Chandler Family Chair and Professor, was awarded the Frederick W. Lanchester prize with co-authors David Applegate, Bob Bixby, and Vasek Chvatal for their recent book entitled The Traveling Salesman Problem: A Computational Study, Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey, 2006. The prize was awarded at the annual INFORMS meeting in Seattle on November 4.

INFORMS Committee Chair John Birge and INFORMS President Brenda Dietrich cited the following statement about the publication and research of Applegate, Bixby, Chvatal, and Cook:

"The traveling salesman problem (TSP) is to find the least expensive way to visit a collection of cities and return to the beginning. This simply stated problem combined with its seeming intractable solution has, over the past century, made the TSP the defining problem for computational optimization and even for computational science in general. While the TSP is now well-known in popular culture as well as in OR/MS, its history, the applications beyond the routing of itinerant vendors, and the variety of solution methodologies had not been assembled until now. Applegate, Bixby, Chvatal and Cook's book The Traveling Salesman Problem: A Computational Study combines the history, the applications and the most advanced methods for solution in a definitive treatment of this definitive problem.

In presenting solution methods, the book describes in clear and instructive terms how to build efficient procedures for the basic optimization mechanisms of linear programming, branch-and-bound, cutting planes, and iterative improvement. The authors then show how to combine these myriad processes into a powerful optimization machine capable of solving to optimality problems with tens of thousands of cities. They also provide challenges for improvements and sources for new directions to the TSP and other large combinatorial problems. To allow future researchers the chance to examine and build on their work directly, the authors have made publicly available their entire computer code.

Besides providing a comprehensive view of all that is involved in solving the TSP, the book's flowing narrative blends the pieces together in a steady progression that captivates the reader. In describing the latest applications, such as gene sequencing, data mining and X-ray crystallography, the book also shows the reach of OR/MS into multiple new domains. In all respects, The Traveling Salesman Problem: A Computational Study represents the best of OR/MS history, present, and future.*

Dr. Cook is the third faculty member in the Stewart School of ISyE to have received this prestigious honor, following Dr. Ellis Johnson (1983) and Dr. George Nemhauser (1977 and 1989). The Lanchester prize is awarded for the best contribution to operations research and the management sciences published in English.


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