INFORMS News: In Memoriam - András Prékopa (1929-2016)

Dr. András Prékopa, mathematician, operations researcher, member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences (“MTA”) and a 2014 recipient of the INFORMS President’s Award, passed away on Sept. 18 at the age of 87, surrounded by his family.

András Prékopa was born Sept. 11, 1929, in Nyiregyháza, Hungary. He graduated from Kossuth Lajos High School in 1947 and obtained a Master of Sciences degree in mathematics, physics and descriptive geometry in 1952 from the University of Debrecen. He defended his Ph.D. in 1956, for which he obtained a Grünwald Géza Prize from the János Bolyai Mathematical Society.

From 1956 and 1968, Dr. Prékopa was a professor of Eötvös Loránd University (“ELTE”), and he subsequently became a professor of the Budapest Technical University. Between 1985 and 2015, he was a distinguished professor of operations research and statistics at RUTCOR at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, N.J., where he was affiliated with the Department of Management Science and Information Systems. Dr. Prékopa retired from Rutgers in 2015 as a distinguished professor emeritus.

In addition to his university responsibilities, between 1970 and 1985 Dr. Prékopa was the head of the Operations Research Department of the MTA’s Computer Science Center. He subsequently became the founder and head of the Applied Mathematics Division of the Computer Science and Automation Research Institute of the MTA. In 1979 the MTA awarded him corresponding membership, which was followed by full membership in 1985.

In 1983, Dr. Prékopa founded the Operations Research Department at ELTE and became its first chairman. In 1977, the Mexican Academy of Sciences awarded him corresponding membership. In 1991, he founded and became the honorary president of the Hungarian Operations Research Society, and in 1996, the János Bolyai Mathematical Society awarded him honorary presidency.

Dr. Prékopa was the founding editor in chief of the Applied Mathematics Journal. From 1981 and 1989, he served as president of the Mathematical Programming Society’s Stochastic Programming Committee.

Dr. Prékopa’s scientific work was characterized by the high-level unification of theory and application. Some excellent examples of this are the applications and implementations of his models and procedures in the areas of hydrology, electric power production, economics, finance and biology, among others. Fifty-eight scientists obtained advanced degrees under Dr. Prékopa’s guidance, among them 16 at RUTCOR.

Along with the INFORMS President’s Award and the Khachiyan Prize from the INFORMS Optimization Society, Dr. Prékopa received many other honors including the Commander’s Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Hungary.

During his scientific career, Dr. Prékopa published 20 books, several hundred scientific papers and 150 educational and popular scientific articles.

With his departure, the operations research community lost an outstanding scholar, an excellent teacher of operations research and applied mathematics, as well as a scientific event organizer with extraordinary abilities and energies.

Source: INFORMS Open Forum (posted by Jonathan Eckstein, Rutgers University)