Scientific Program

Historical Lectures

In addition to the scientific program ISMP 2012 will offer an extensive coverage of the history of optimization. Five special history lectures are scheduled reporting on work of Euler, Leibniz, Weierstrass, Minkowski, and the inventor of the electronic computer Konrad Zuse. The lecture titles, abstracts, and bio sketches of the speakers are below. All lectures will take place in room H 1012.

Program -> Historical title only | abstract | bio sketch

Monday, 17:00 - 17:50 h, H 1012

Horst Zuse
The origins of the Computer [...]

Chair: Martin Grötschel

Many outstanding scientists and managers were necessary to get the computer to the point of development that we know today. Konrad Zuse (1910-1995) is almost unanimously accepted as the inventor of the first working, freely programmable machine using Boolean logic and with binary floating point numbers. This Machine - called Z3 - he did finish in May 1941 in his small workshop in Berlin-Kreuzberg.

In this presentation the achievements of Charles Babbage (1823), the development of the secret COLOSSUS-Project (UK, 1943), Howard Aiken’s Mark I (USA), and the ENIAC (USA).
Konrad Zuses contributions to computer development are presented as well, with many surprising pictures and videos. It is not well known, that Konrad Zuse founded, in 1949, a computer company that produced 251 computers of a value of 51 Million Euros. It was the first company which did produce computers in a commercial way.


Biographical sketch:
Horst Zuse was born at November 17, 1945 in Hindelang (Bavaria in Germany). He received the Ph.D. degree in computer science from the Technische Universität (TUB) of Berlin in 1985. From 1975-2010 he was a senior research scientist with the Technische Universität Berlin. His research interests are information retrieval systems, software engineering, software metrics, computer history and computer architectures.

In 1991 he published the book: Horst Zuse: Software Complexity - Measures and Methods (De Gruyter Publisher). In 1998 the book Horst Zuse: A Framework for Software Measurement (DeGruyter Publisher) followed. In 1998 he received the habilitation (Privatdozent) in the area of Praktische Informatik (Practical Computer Science) and since 2006 he is a Professor with the University of applied Sciences in Senftenberg.


Tuesday, 17:00 - 17:50 h, H 1012

Eberhard Knobloch
Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz - Universal genius and outstanding mathematician [...]

Chair: Günter M. Ziegler

The universal genius Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1646-1716)
contributed to nearly all scientific disciplines and left the
incredibly huge amount of about 200 000 sheets of paper that are kept
in the Leibniz Library of Hannover. About 4000 of them regarding
natural sciences, medicine, technology have been digitized and are
freely available in the internet:, Less than
one half of them have been published up to now. Hence we know for
example - for the time being - only about one fourth of his
mathematical production. The lecture will give a short survey of his
biography and mainly deal with the following six aspects: 1. Leibniz
as an organizer of scientific work: his presidency of the Berlin
Academy of Sciences; 2. His rigorous foundation of infinitesimal
geometry; 3. Leibniz as the inventor of the differential and
integral calculus; 4. His conception of and his contributions to a
general combinatorial art (symmetric functions, number theory,
insurance calculus); 5. His proposals for engineering improvements in
mining; 6. Leibniz's invention of the first real four-function
calculating machine.


Biographical sketch:
Eberhard Knobloch studied mathematics, classical philology, and history of science and technology at the Free University of Berlin and the Berlin University of Technology. In 1972 he did a PhD in history of science and technology, in 1976 he passed the habilitation for university professors at the Berlin University of Technology. Since 2002 he is professor of history of science and technology at this university and Academy professor at the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities (BBAW). He is member of several national and international academies of sciences, president of the International Academy of the History of Science, past president of the European Society for the History of Science, Honorary professor of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. He published or edited more than 300 papers or books on the history of science and technology, he is member of the editorial boards of sixteen international journals. His main scientific interests concern the history and philosophy of mathematical sciences and Renaissance technology. He is project leader of the A. v. Humboldt research group and the two Leibniz research groups at the BBAW.


Wednesday, 17:00 - 17:50 h, H 1012

Günter M. Ziegler
Leonhard Euler: Three strikes of a genius [...]

Chair: George L. Nemhauser

We will explore three of Euler's genius contributions: - The seven bridges of Königsberg: How a problem of "Recreational Mathematics" led to the creation of Graph Theory. - The Basel problem: A healthy dose of serious numerical computing on the way to a zeta(2). - The polyhedron formula: Tracing the polyhedron formula from Stockholm to the Berne mountains.


Biographical sketch:
Günter M. Ziegler, born in München, Germany, in 1963, got a PhD at MIT in 1987, became a Professor of Mathematics at TU Berlin 1995, and moved to FU Berlin in 2011 as a MATHEON Professor. He became the founding chair of the Berlin Mathematical School in 2006. His interests connect discrete and computational geometry (especially polytopes), algebraic and topological methods in combinatorics, discrete mathematics and the theory of linear and integer programming. He is the author of Lectures on Polytopes (Springer 1995) and of Proofs from THE BOOK (with Martin Aigner, Springer-Verlag 1998), which has by now appeared in 14 languages. His latest book is "Darf ich Zahlen? Geschichten aus der Mathematik" ("Do I count? Stories from Mathematics"; English translation to appear). Günter Ziegler’s honors include a Leibniz Prize (2001) of the German Research Foundation DFG, the Chauvenet Prize (2004) of the Mathematical Association of America, and the 2008 Communicator Award of DFG and Stifterverband. He is a member of the executive board of the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences, and a member of the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina. From 2006-2008 he was the President of the German Mathematical Society DMV. In 2008 he initiated and co-organized the German National Science Year “Jahr der Mathematik” and now directs the DMV Mathematics Media Office and the DMV Network Office Schools-Universities.


Thursday, 17:00 - 17:25 h, H 1012

Juergen Sprekels
Karl Weierstrass and optimization [...]

Chair: Richard Warren Cottle

The work of Karl Weierstrass, the outstanding Berlin mathematician who was one of leading mathematical researchers of the second half of the nineteenth century, had a deep impact on the theory of optimization and on variational calculus. In this talk, we review some aspects of his contributions to the field.


Biographical sketch:
Jürgen Sprekels, born 1948 in Hamburg, Germany, studied mathematics at the University of Hamburg, where he received his PhD in 1975 and his habilitation in 1977. After professorships in Augsburg (1981-88) and Essen (1988-94), he became Full Professor for Applied Analysis at the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin in 1994. Since 1994 he has been the director of the Weierstrass Institute for Applied Analysis and Stochastics (WIAS) in Berlin, the non-university mathematical research institute that hosts the Secretariat of the International Mathematical Union (IMU) and the German Mathematical Society (DMV). He was also one of the founders of the mathematical research center MATHEON in Berlin. His research focuses on the analysis and optimal control of nonlinear systems of PDEs arising in applications, with an emphasis on hysteresis phenomena, phase transitions, and free boundary problems. He conducted several industrial cooperation projects, in particular, in the growth of semiconductor bulk single crystals. He (co-)authored two research monographs and more than 150 papers in refereed journals and conference proceedings.


Thursday, 17:30 - 17:55 h, H 1012

Martin Grötschel
Hermann Minkowski and convexity [...]

Chair: Richard Warren Cottle

Convexity of a set or function is a property that plays an important role in optimization. In this lecture a brief survey of the history of the notion of convexity and, in particular, the role Hermann Minkowski played in it, will be given.


Biographical sketch:
Martin Grötschel, born in Schwelm, Germany in 1948, studied mathematics and economics at Ruhr-Universität Bochum from 1969-1973. He received his PhD (1977) and his habilitation (1981) from Bonn University. He was Full Professor of Applied Mathematics at Augsburg University (1982 – 1991). Since 1991 he has been Professor at the Institute of Mathematics of Technische Universität Berlin and Vice President of the Zuse Institute Berlin (ZIB). From 2002 to 2008 he served as chair of the DFG Research Center MATHEON. Martin Grötschel was President of the German Mathematical Society DMV 1993-1994, and he has been serving the International Mathematical Union as Secretary since 2007. He is a member of four academies (BBAW, Leopoldina, acatech, NAE) and since 2001 in the executive board of BBAW. In 2011 he became chairman of the executive board of the Einstein Foundation Berlin. His scientific honors include the Leibniz, the Dantzig and the Fulkerson Prize and four honorary degrees. His main areas of scientific interest are discrete mathematics, optimization and operations research with a particular emphasis on the design of theoretically and practically efficient algorithms for hard combinatorial optimization problems occurring in practice.



Program -> Historical title only | abstract | bio sketch

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