Philip Wolfe (mathematician)

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Philip Wolfe
Born(1927-08-11)11 August 1927
Died29 December 2016(2016-12-29) (aged 89)[1]
Alma materUniversity of California, Berkeley
Scientific career
ThesisI.Games of Infinite Length; II.A Nondegenerate Formulation and Simplex Solution of Linear Programming Problems (1954)
Doctoral advisorEdward William Barankin

Philip Starr "Phil" Wolfe (August 11, 1927 – December 29, 2016) was an American mathematician and one of the founders of convex optimization theory and mathematical programming.


Wolfe received his bachelors, masters, and Ph.D. degrees from the University of California, Berkeley.[2] He and his wife, Hallie, lived in Ossining, New York.[1]


In 1954, he was offered an instructorship at Princeton, where he worked on generalizations of linear programming, such as quadratic programming and general non-linear programming, leading to the Frank-Wolfe algorithm[3] in joint work with Marguerite Frank, then a visitor at Princeton; when Maurice Sion was on sabbatical at the Institute for Advanced Study, Sion and Wolfe published in 1957 an example of a zero-sum game without a minimax value.[4] Wolfe joined RAND corporation in 1957, where he worked with George Dantzig, resulting in the now well known Dantzig–Wolfe decomposition method.[5] In 1965, he moved to IBM's Thomas J. Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights, New York.

Honors and awards[edit]

He received the John von Neumann Theory Prize in 1992, jointly with Alan Hoffman.

Selected publications[edit]

  • Dantzig, George B.; Wolfe, Philip (February 1960). "Decomposition Principle for Linear Programs". Operations Research. 8 (1): 101–111. doi:10.1287/opre.8.1.101.
  • Frank, M.; Wolfe, P. (1956). "An algorithm for quadratic programming". Naval Research Logistics Quarterly. 3 (1–2): 95–110. doi:10.1002/nav.3800030109.
  • Held, M.; Wolfe, P.; Crowder, H. P. (1974). "Validation of subgradient optimization". Mathematical Programming. 6: 62–88. doi:10.1007/BF01580223.
  • Wolfe, P. (1959). "The Simplex Method for Quadratic Programming". Econometrica. 27 (3): 382–398. doi:10.2307/1909468. JSTOR 1909468.


  1. ^ a b Reif, Carol (3 January 2017). "Obituaries: Philip S. Wolfe, Mathematician, of Ossining, 89". Ossining Daily Voice. Retrieved 4 January 2017.
  2. ^ Hoffman, A. J. (2011). "Philip Starr Wolfe". Profiles in Operations Research. International Series in Operations Research & Management Science. 147. pp. 627–642. doi:10.1007/978-1-4419-6281-2_34. ISBN 978-1-4419-6280-5.
  3. ^ Frank, Marguerite; Wolfe, Philip (March 1956). "An algorithm for quadratic programming". Naval Research Logistics Quarterly. 3 (1–2): 95–110. doi:10.1002/nav.3800030109.
  4. ^ Sion, Maurice; Wolfe, Phillip (1957), "On a game without a value", in Dresher, M.; Tucker, A. W.; Wolfe, P. (eds.), Contributions to the Theory of Games III, Annals of Mathematics Studies 39, Princeton University Press, pp. 299–306, ISBN 9780691079363
  5. ^ Pearce, Jeremy (23 May 2005). "George B. Dantzig Dies at 90; Devised Math Solution to Broad Problems". The New York Times. Retrieved 13 December 2013.

External Information[edit]

  • INFORMS: Biography of Philip Wolfe from the Institute for Operations Research and the management Sciences