Two Columbia Univ. Researchers Awarded John von Neumann Theory Prize

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BALTIMORE, Oct. 16, 2023 – The 2023 John von Neumann Theory Prize, awarded by INFORMS, is bestowed to Christos H. Papadimitriou and Mihalis Yannakakis for their significant contributions to the field of operations research and analytics.

The combined work of Papadimitriou and Yannakakis, both from Columbia University, has focused on computational complexity theory and providing an understanding of the limits of efficient solvability for a wide range of decision and optimization problems central to operations research and the management sciences.

As an example of a major contribution, Papadimitriou and Yannakakis (1988) introduced Max-NP and Max-SNP, natural variants of the NP complexity class, comprising certain optimization problems that can be approximated with bounded error. Within these classes, they showed that several common problems have polynomial-time approximation schemes only if the whole class does.

The John von Neumann Theory Prize, one of INFORMS most prestigious prizes, is awarded at the 2023 INFORMS Annual Meeting in October in Phoenix, Arizona. The Prize typically reflects contributions that have stood the test of time. The criteria for the Prize are broad, and include significance, innovation, depth and scientific excellence.

The award is $5,000, a medallion and a citation.

“INFORMS is extremely appreciative of the contributions of Professors Papadimitriou and Yannakakis and their dedication to the profession of operations research and our organization,” says Elena Gerstmann, INFORMS Executive Director. “We are proud to honor them with this award.”

As a professional association for the data and decision sciences, INFORMS members leverage mathematics and scientific methodologies to help organizations and governments at all levels make better, data-driven decisions. With more than 12,000 professional and student members from around the world, INFORMS members support organizations and governments at all levels as they work to transform data into information, and information into insights that save lives, save money and solve problems.