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 and abstracts 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.


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.


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.


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.


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.



Program -> Historical title only | abstract | bio sketch

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