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Comments, Queries, and Debate: Joseph Fourier's Anticipation of Linear Programming

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000129645D
Original Publication Date: 1990-Dec-31
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2005-Oct-06
Document File: 1 page(s) / 14K

Publishing Venue

Software Patent Institute

Related People

I. O. Grattan-Guinness: AUTHOR [+2]

Abstract

43 St. Leonard's Road Bengeo, Herts SO14 3JW England In recent comments published in this department (Annals of the History of Computing, Vol. 11, No. 2, 1989, pp. 145-151), B. L. Schwartz and S. I. Gass gave G.B. Dantzig credit as the sole inventor of linear programming (ca. 1947-1948), with work by L. V. Kantorovich (1939) and T. C. Koopmans (1942-1943) leading up to Dantzig's invention. Now I. O. Grattan-Guinness has forwarded to us the following note showing that Fourier was already considering these ideas over a century earlier. More detail and references can be found in a paper with the above title published in Operational Research Quarterly 21, 3,1970, pp. 361-364. Joseph Fourier (1768-1830) is mostly remembered for his work in mathematical physics and associated results in ";Fourier series"; and ";Fourier integrals,"; but at various stages of his life he had to work on statistical problems, and it seems that from these researches he conceived single-handed a basic theory of linear programming. He published very little on it -- a short paper in 1826 and two brief reports in 1827 -- and when he died in 1830 he left only manuscripts behind him on the subject. They included, however, part of an Expose' Synoptique of a book he had been writing called Analyse des equations de'termine'es, in which he intended to describe his life-long researches into the theory of equations. Only the first two livres of the book had been finished, but the Expose' showed that the seventh and last livre would have dealt with linear programming (or ";analysis of inequalities,"; as he called it); and his friend C. L. M. H. Navier published the Expose' and the completed livres, together with some introductory material, in 1831.

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Comments, Queries, and Debate: Joseph Fourier's Anticipation of Linear Programming

I. O. Grattan-Guinness

43 St. Leonard's Road Bengeo, Herts SO14 3JW England

In recent comments published in this department (Annals of the History of Computing, Vol. 11, No. 2, 1989, pp. 145-151), B. L. Schwartz and S. I. Gass gave G.B. Dantzig credit as the sole inventor of linear programming (ca. 1947-1948), with work by L. V. Kantorovich (1939) and T. C. Koopmans (1942-1943) leading up to Dantzig's invention. Now I. O. Grattan-Guinness has forwarded to us the following note showing that Fourier was already considering these ideas over a century earlier. More detail and references can be found in a paper with the above title published in Operational Research Quarterly 21, 3,1970, pp. 361-364. Joseph Fourier (1768- 1830) is mostly remembered for his work in mathematical physics and associated results in "Fourier series" and "Fourier integrals," but at various stages of his life he had to work on statistical problems, and it seems that from these researches he conceived single-handed a basic theory of linear programming. He published very little on it -- a short paper in 1826 and two brief reports in 1827 -- and when he died in 1830 he left only manuscripts behind him on the subject. They included, however, part of an Expose' Synoptique of a book he had been writing called Analyse des equations de'termine'es, in which he intended to describe his life-long researches into the theory of equations. Only the first two livres of the book had been finished, but the Expose' showed that the seventh and last livre would have dealt with linear programming (or "analysis of inequalities," as he called it); and his friend C. L. M...