Do you recall ever hearing about George Dantzig? Did you know that this math prodigy’s success has a very intriguing backstory? Continue reading to learn how he became known as “The Father of Linear Programming1 and his many accomplishments. 

Who is George Dantzig?

George Bernard Dantzig was born in Portland, Oregon on November 8, 1914 . Dantzig initially had difficulty with math at school, but with his father’s encouragement, he focussed on succeeding in math and science. He soon started getting top grades in math and eventually developed a passion for geometry. He completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Maryland, College Park. He then went on to complete his master’s degree at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, on a graduate scholarship.2,3   

He left Ann Arbor and moved back to Washington to work at the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) after finding University of Michigan’s graduate program’s emphasis on abstract math uninspiring. Taking on his new job, he began working on mathematically practical applications. He frequently observed in his later years that, despite being expressed abstractly at times, his numerous mathematical breakthroughs were inspired by real-world issues that businesses, organizations, or governments were facing.2,3 

The Fascinating Tale of the Unsolved Problems

After working at BLS for a while, Dantzig discovered new research motivation in Jerzy Neyman’s work at the University of California, Berkeley. The narrative of Dantzig’s career-changing accomplishments and rise to professional recognition began when he studied statistics under professor Neyman. Dantzig unavoidably arrived late to one of Neyman’s classes, which became a legendary event. Dantzig copied down two problems that were written on the chalkboard that he felt were given as homework. As the questions seemed more challenging than usual,  he spent a few extra days working on them and then presented them at Neyman’s office for his review. 4,1,7

After a few weeks, Neyman unexpectedly showed up at Dantzig’s residence to inform him that he had finished writing the introduction to one of his articles and that his dissertation was complete. Two well-known unresolved, and up until that point, unsolvable statistics problems were what Dantzig had completed as homework. Dantzig’s solutions to the issues not only provided a magnificent example of individual success but also created the foundation for the inception of linear programming and a plethora of later applications.4,1,7

George Dantzig’s Astounding Contributions

Dantzig created the simplex algorithm while serving as chief of the Combat Analysis Branch of the Statistical Control Division for the U.S. Air Force during and after World War II to make programming in a linear structure easier. To produce, assemble, train, and locate all of the military’s personnel and equipment, he attempted to automate the planning or programming process. He created a method known as linear programming for determining the ideal mix and intensity of activities and resource uses. This made it possible for economists, mathematicians, and others to consider a wide range of variables when making significant decisions regarding the production and distribution of aircraft, their components, and raw materials. 5,6,2

Dantzig demonstrated how thousands of business, political, and military decision-making issues could be formulated as linear programming issues. Operations researchers now have a way to tackle old and brand-new Operations research (OR) issues, thanks to linear programming. It also provided a brand-new approach for generating and locating mathematical proofs.5,6,7,8

In addition to its typical industrial applications, linear programming is now a crucial tool in advancing artificial intelligence and machine learning. These optimization techniques have not only raised outputs and decreased costs globally but have also saved innumerable lives. In the economy and every aspect of our lives, linear programming and its many expansions continue to have a significant impact. The simplex approach, which is ranked among the best 10 algorithms of the 20th century and continues to be a crucial component of optimization, is also a fantastic tool.9,10 

Stochastic programming (a technique for researching issues that involve a great deal of uncertainty), game theory, and quadratic programming  are among Dr. Dantzig’s other interest areas.8 Among Dantzig’s various honors are the National Medal of Science (1975), the John von Neumann Theory Prize in Operations Research (1975), and the National Academy of Sciences Award in Applied Mathematics and Numerical Analysis (1977).3 

George Dantzig will be remembered as one of the pioneers and major contributors to the subject of mathematical programming and the inventor of the simplex method for linear programming, arguably the most significant algorithm created in the 20th century.9 His work served as the impetus for creating various professional and scholarly organizations, including the Mathematical Programming Society and the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics.8

A truly remarkable man with an inspiring story. You may find more fascinating articles on math personalities and on math and coding at BYJU’S FutureSchool Blog.


  1. Albers, D. J., & Reid, C. (1986). An Interview with George B. Dantzig: The Father of Linear Programming. 17(4), 293–314. (n.d.). Retrieved December 28, 2022, from
  2. George Dantzig (1914 – 2005) – Biography – MacTutor History of Mathematics. (n.d.). Retrieved December 28, 2022, from 
  3. George Dantzig | American mathematician | Britannica. (n.d.). Retrieved December 28, 2022, from 
  4. Remembering George Dantzig: The real Will Hunting – Big Think. (n.d.). Retrieved December 28, 2022, from 
  5. Dantzig, George B. – INFORMS. (n.d.). Retrieved December 28, 2022, from 
  6. Professor George Dantzig, Stanford Operations Research Department. (n.d.). Retrieved December 28, 2022, from 
  7. George Bernard Dantzig: The Pioneer of Linear Optimization | MBR Journal. (n.d.). Retrieved December 28, 2022, from 
  8. Who Was George B. Dantzig? – INFORMS. (n.d.). Retrieved December 28, 2022, from 
  9. George Dantzig’s impact on the theory of computation – ScienceDirect. (n.d.). Retrieved December 28, 2022, from 
  10. Cipra, B. A. (n.d.). The Best of the 20th Century: Editors Name Top 10 Algorithms. From SIAM News, 33(4). Retrieved December 29, 2022, from 

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