Prékopa garners INFORMS President’s Award

András Prékopa of Rutgers University (left) accepts the INFORMS President’s Award from INFORMS President Steve Robinson (right).

András Prékopa of Rutgers University (left) accepts the INFORMS President’s Award from INFORMS President Steve Robinson (right).

András Prékopa, a professor at Rutgers University and professor emeritus at the Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest, was named the 2014 recipient of the INFORMS President’s Award for his “his significant and longstanding contributions to operations research in both basic theory and effective applications.”

INFORMS President Steve Robinson announced the award at the INFORMS Annual Meeting in San Francisco.

The INFORMS President’s Award recognizes and encourages important contributions to the welfare of society by operations researchers at the local, national and global level. The award committee includes the current INFORMS president and the two most recent past presidents.

The award citation read in part:

András Prékopa … was one of the initiators of the very important area of optimization under uncertainty, and his work has provided foundations for the creation of its mathematical tools, as well as for its practical use in problem solving.

Prékopa’s … contributions have resulted in many books and more than 160 published papers from 1950 to the present, and he has supervised 56 doctoral students. These achievements have been recognized by his selection as a full member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, as well as several other honorary posts. He has received many awards, including the very prestigious Széchenyi Prize for outstanding scientific achievements, given by the Hungarian Government in 1996, and the Commander’s Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Hungary, awarded by the president of Hungary in 2005.

His mathematical contributions include a number of fundamental results in probability theory, including work in random measures and random set functions. Some of his best-known results are in stochastic programming, including the general formulation of chance-constrained programming permitting stochastic dependence. He introduced the concept of logarithmic concavity, which has been extremely important because for a wide class of chance-constrained problems it leads to convexity properties that make the problems computationally accessible. He has contributed to a number of other probabilistic research areas, as well as to the history of optimization.

His work, however, was not confined to the advancement of theory. In 1962, he developed with M. Ziermann an inventory-control model to determine safety-stock levels, which was widely used in Hungary and was credited for significant savings. During his service as head of a department in the Hungarian Academy of Sciences in the 1970s and 1980s, he and several of his colleagues developed a model for daily power generation in the Hungarian power grid that combined unit commitment and distribution decisions. This model was implemented and in regular use by the Hungarian government at a time when such optimization-based planning was a revolutionary advance over methods in use elsewhere.

The purpose of the INFORMS President’s Award is to recognize important contributions to the welfare of society. András Prékopa’s work has significantly impacted both the mathematical foundations of operations research and its implementation for the effective management of important societal resources.