Aharon Ben-Tal

Past Awards

Optimization Society Khachiyan Prize: Awardee(s)
2016 - Awardee(s)

The 2016 recipient of the INFORMS Optimization Society Khachiyan Prize, for his remarkable life-time achievements in the area of optimization, is Aharon Ben-Tal, Professor at Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa, Israel.

Professor Ben-Tal is an internationally recognized expert in the area of continuous optimization with an outstanding record of academic achievement. In this citation, we focus solely on Professor Ben-Tal's original, significant, and lasting scientific contributions, leaving aside his remarkable achievements in teaching, supervision, mentoring, and service to the profession.

Since the start of his scientific career in the mid-70's, Professor Ben-Tal has published three original monographs and over 130 journal papers (most of them in top-quality professional journals). This body of work has made extremely important contributions to a wide spectrum of areas in the theory and application of continuous optimization. His contributions, which have been cited almost 17,000 times, include fundamental results in the following topics.

  1. Convexity theory and duality, with applications to information theory and statistics.
  2. Optimality conditions, including pioneering and fundamental contributions to the theory of higher-order optimality conditions in nonsmooth optimization.
  3. Fundamental research on optimal decision-making under stochastic uncertainty.
  4. The development of novel efficient optimization techniques for extremely large-scale convex programs.
  5. Applications of optimization in engineering. Since the late 80s, Ben-Tal has not only made important contributions to structural optimization (truss topology design of mechanical structures, shape design, free material optimization), but also to medical imaging (reconstruction algorithms for positron-emission tomography), signal processing, water distribution systems, filter design, robotics, supply chain management, and more.

These contributions of Professor Ben-Tal form a truly outstanding research record in terms of their originality, breadth, depth and impact. However, it may be argued that the scholarly achievement with the greatest impact has been his path-breaking research on robust optimization (RO).

In the mid-90's, robust optimization was simultaneously and independently rediscovered by two groups of researchers: Aharon Ben-Tal and Arkadi Nemirovski on one hand, and Laurent El Ghaoui and co-authors on the other hand. Professor Ben-Tal's vision played a key role in a paper on robust optimization devoted to a particular case of a truss affected by uncertain load that became the first of a long series of publications that included part of a monograph. This work, together with the pioneering research of El Ghaoui and, eventually, the contributions of other researchers worldwide, resulted in the creation of a new area in optimization. This area has been significantly “shaped" by the contributions of Prof. Ben-Tal in terms of both the specific applications of robust optimization and the extension of its central paradigm to theoretical issues associated with tractability/tight tractable approximations of robust counterparts. Together with Arkadi Nemirovski and Laurent El Ghaoui, Professor Ben-Tal co-authored a seminal book on robust optimization that contains not only a review of known methodologies, but also some surprising and elegant new results.

Selection committee

Tamás Terlaky (chair), Philip Gill, Dorit Hochbaum, Werner Römisch

2016 Chair Tamás Terklay awards the Khachiayan Prize to Aharon Ben Tal.

INFORMS Elected Fellows: Awardee(s)