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Richard E. Bellman

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Part of the International Series in Operations Research & Management Science book series (ISOR,volume 147)

Abstract

The post-WorldWar II (WWII) development of operations research (OR) owes much to two organizations: Princeton University and the RAND Corporation. Richard (Dick) Bellman’s formative years were spent at both—associations that shaped his research interests and led him to areas of applications that included well-known OR problems. His interest in mathematics developed early; he trained as a mathematician and always regarded himself as one. The Princeton mathematics department offered him an excellent graduate program, his first teaching opportunity, and, especially, a research environment that introduced him to key areas of his future research program. The exceptional group of scientists at RAND exposed him to game theory, optimization theory, and many classical applied problems in OR. Dick’s invention and development of dynamic programming (DP) in the early 1950s marked the beginning of a new era in the analysis and optimization of large-scale systems. His research established him as a towering figure among the contributors to modern optimization, control theory, and systems analysis. Dick was among the first to realize the transformative impact of computers, not just in terms of the computational power required for obtaining numerical solutions, but in the very nature of how decision problems would be approached and solved. He was noted for his prolific output—he published over 600 research papers and over 40 books.

Keywords

  • Dynamic Programming
  • Operation Research
  • Optimal Policy
  • Short Path Problem
  • Borderline Personality Disorder

These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Acknowledgments

I am indebted to Dr. Kirstie Bellman for her valuable input, her responses to our queries, and the pictures of Dick Bellman used in this profile. I am grateful to Professor Stuart Dreyfus for reviewing an early version of this profile and for supplying his reminiscences.

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Correspondence to Arjang A. Assad .

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Assad, A.A. (2011). Richard E. Bellman. In: Assad, A., Gass, S. (eds) Profiles in Operations Research. International Series in Operations Research & Management Science, vol 147. Springer, Boston, MA. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4419-6281-2_23

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