Garth P. McCormick

September 8, 1935 – August 24, 2008

Brief Biography

Garth P. McCormick was a Frederick W. Lanchester Prize recipient and a pioneer of nonlinear programming. Born in Fort Wayne, Indiana, McCormick attended Oberlin College outside of Cleveland, Ohio on a full academic scholarship. He ran on the school’s track and cross country teams, graduating with a mathematics degree in 1956. After two years in the United States Army, McCormick went on to receive a masters degree from the University of Michigan prior to joining the Operations Research Office in 1960. He stayed with the ORO as it transitioned into the Research Analysis Corporation where he teamed up with Anthony V. Fiacco.

McCormick and Fiacco went on to develop a solution method for the general convex programming problem, settling on an interior-point, penalty-function approach. This work led to the SUMT computer code, which has since been used in a number of fields. McCormick and Fiacco compiled their work in Nonlinear Programming: Sequential Unconstrained Minimization Techniques (1968). The book was jointly awarded that year’s Frederick W. Lanchester Prize for best publication in operations research, lauded for being one of the most comprehensive approaches to the analysis of nonlinear programming problems. This work in the 1960s would mirror most of McCormick’s career given the equivalent dedication to theory, computation and application.

In 1971, after spending an academic year as a visiting professor at the University of Wisconsin, McCormick joined academia full-time, accepting a faculty position in the Department of Operations Research at the George Washington University. He spent the following two decades teaching and continuing his important research. His research incorporated his existing interests in nonlinear program and expanded to include elements of optimization theory. During this period, McCormick also consulted with a number of government organizations such as the U.S. Department of Energy and the National Institute of Standards and Technology. He had to suspend his teaching duties in 1992 after suffering a major stroke, fully retiring from the university four years later.

McCormick lived in Chevy Chase, MD and was a member of the Cosmos Club in Washington, D.C. He died from cancer in a Bethesda hospital at age seventy-three.


Oberlin College, BA 1956

University of Michigan, MA 1959


Academic Affiliations
Non-Academic Affiliations

Key Interests in OR/MS



(2008) In memoriam: Garth P. McCormick (1935-2008). OR/MS Today, 35(5). (link)

Archive: Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics: News of SIAM: In Memoriam Garth P. McCormick. Published September 2, 2008. Accessed August 17, 2018. (link)

Washington Post (2008) Garth P. McCormick, Mathematics Professor. August 29. (link)

Awards and Honors

Frederick W. Lanchester Prize 1968

Selected Publications

Fiacco A. V. & McCormick G. P. (1964) The sequential unconstrained minimization technique for linear programming, a primal-dual method. Management Science, 10(2): 360-366.

Fiacco A. V. & McCormick G. P. (1966) Extensions of SUMT for nonlinear programming: equality and e-xtrapolation. Management Science, 12(11): 816-828.

McCormick G. P. (1967) Second order conditions for constrained minma. SIAM Journal on Applied Mathematics, 15(3): 641-652.

Bracken J. & McCormick G. P. (1968) Selected Applications of Nonlinear Programming. Research Analysis Corporation: McLean, VA. 

Fiacco A. V. & McCormick G. P. (1968) Nonlinear Programming: Sequential Unconstructed Minimization Techniques. John Wiley & Sons: New York.

McCormick G. P. (1969) Exponential forecasting: some new variations. Management Science, 15(5): 311-320.

McCormick G. P. (1976) Computability of global solutions to factorable nonconvex programs: part I - convex underestimating problems. Mathematical Programming, 10(1): 147-175.

Jackson R. H. F. & McCormick G. P. (1986) The polyadic structure of factorable function tensors with applications to high-order minimization techniques. Journal of Optimization Theory and Applications, 51(1): 63-94.

McCormick G. P. & Sofer A. (1991) Optimization with unary functions. Mathematical Programming, 52(1-3): 167-178.