Michael J. Todd

August 14, 1947

Brief Biography

Todd Fellow Portrait

Born in Chelmsford, United Kingdom, Michael J. Todd has made significant contributions to algorithms for computing fixed points and computational solutions to linear programming. With former Cornell graduate students, K. C. Toh and Reha Tutuncu, he developed the widely-used SDPT3 software package for linear, second-order, and semi-definite programming problems.

Todd received a BA in mathematics from Cambridge University before studying administrative science at Yale. Under Gordon Hoover Bradley, Todd wrote his dissertation on abstract complementary pivot theory and earned his PhD in Administrative Science in 1972. He spent two years at the University of Ottawa before arriving at Cornell University’s School of Operation Research and Industrial Engineering (ORIE). As an instructor, Todd’s lectures covered linear programming theory and the use of algorithms to solve these programs.

Todd developed a number of novel methods for computing fixed points. Early in his career, he developed new triangulations and created a way to measure their efficiency. In linear programming, he enhanced the understanding of interior-point methods, solving problems by a different approach than George B. Dantzig’s “classical” simplex method. When Todd, Toh, and Tutuncu introduced SDPT3 in a 1999 Optimization Methods and Software article, they offered a computer code that could solve a more general class of semi-definite programs (the program’s name is a combined acronym of SDP and the author’s surnames).

Todd has been active with a variety of professional organizations and publications. He served as editor-in-chief of Mathematical Programming and chaired both the Society for the Foundations of Computational Mathematics and the SIAM Activity Group on Optimization.

Upon Todd’s retirement, ORIE held a celebration that included an on-campus banquet and technical symposium followed by a barbecue party at Ithaca’s Robert Treman State Park. At the event George Nemhauser, the former Director of ORIE, described Todd’s hiring as “the best decision I’ve made.” 

Other Biographies

Michael J. Todd. School Operations Research and Industrial Engineering. Accessed November 14, 2018. (link)


Cambridge University, BA 1968

Yale University, PhD in Administrative Science,  1972 (Mathematics Genealogy


Academic Affiliations

Key Interests in OR/MS


Oral Histories

Michael Todd (2015) Interview by Leslie Trotter, June 15, 2015.  Video by E. J. Cornelius, Ithaca, NY 

NOTE:  The video chapter transcripts below are searchable, with search results displaed as marks on the time bar above the search box.  Click a mark to jump to the search word or phrase in the video and transcript, or click on any word in the transcript to jump to that point in the video.

Jump to Chapters

Chapter 1: Introduction
Chapter 2: Early Years at Schools in England
Chapter 3: Undergraduate Work at Cambridge University
Chapter 4: Graduate Work at Yale University
Chapter 5: First Faculty Position at the University of Ottawa
Chapter 6: Move to Cornell University
Chapter 7: Research Directions
Chapter 8: The Simplex Method
Chapter 9: The Future of Operations Research
Chapter 10: Early Influences
Chapter 11: Extracurricular Interests
Chapter 12: Research Colleagues

Memoirs and Autobiographies


Cornell University School Operations Research and Industrial Engineering People. Michael Todd: Short Vita. Accessed June 11, 2015. (link)

Awards and Honors

MPS/SIAM George B. Dantzig Prize 1988

John von Neumann Theory Prize 2003

Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences Fellow 2004

Society of Industrial and Applied Mathematics Fellow 2009

Professional Service

SIAM Activity Group on Optimization, Chair 2011-2013

Foundations of Computational Mathematics, Chair 2005-2008 

Selected Publications

Todd M. J. (1976) The Computation of Fixed Points and Applications. Springer-Verlag: Berlin. 

Bland R. G., Goldfarb D., & Todd M. J. (1981) The ellipsoid method: a survey. Operations Research, 29(6): 1039-1091.

Burrell B. P. & Todd M. J. (1986) An extension of Karmarkar's algorithm for linear programming using dual variables. Algorithmica, 1(1-4): 409-424.

Todd M. J. & Ye Y. (1990) A center projective algorithm for linear programming. Mathematics of Operations Research, 15(3): 508-796.

Mizuno S., Todd M. J., & Ye Y. (1993) On adaptive-step primal-dual interior-point algorithms for linear programming. Mathematics of Operations Research, 18(4): 964-981.

Todd M. J., Toh K. C., & Tutuncu R. H. (1999) SDPT3 - a MATLAB software package for semidefinite programming, version 1.3. Optimization Methods and Software, 11(1-4): 545-581. 

Nesterov Y. E. & Todd M. J. (1997) Self-scaled barriers and interior-point methods for convex programming. Mathematics of Operations Research, 22(1): 1-42.

Nesterov Y. E. & Todd M. J. (1998) Primal-dual interior-point methods for self-scaled cones. SIAM Journal on Optimization, 8(2): 324-364.

Todd M. J. (2001)  Semidefinite optimization. Act Numerica, 10: 515-560.

Todd M. J., Toh K. C., & Tutuncu R. H. (2003) Solving semidefinite-quadratic-linear programs using SDPT3. Mathematical Programming, 95(2): 189-217.

Additional Resources

Cornell University School of Operations Research and Information Engineering. News & Events: Students, Friends and Colleagues Join in Mike Todd's Retirement Celebration. Published January 14, 2015. Accessed June 11, 2015. (link)

Freund R. M. (2014) Mike Todd: Moving Optimization Forward. Presentation. August. Mike Todd Retirement Celebration, Cornell University. Accessed June 11, 2015. (link)