Person: Bellman, Richard Ernest
Richard Bellman was an American applied mathematician who made important advances in dynamic programming.
Mathematical Profile (Excerpt):
- The Great Depression began in 1929, when Richard was nine years old, and by 1932 one quarter of the workers in the United States were unemployed.
- John Bellman was ruined by the Depression but, despite great hardship, managed to see Richard obtain a good education.
- Richard first met mathematics at the age of eleven when he studied Schultze's Elementary and advanced algebra.
- Richard attended Abraham Lincoln High School in Brooklyn where he represented his school on the mathematics team and in his final year was rewarded with achieving the top rank among all New York school pupils.
- After High School Bellman entered the City College of New York in January 1937.
- Bellman left Johns Hopkins University early in 1942 to take up a position as Instructor in Military Electronics at the University of Wisconsin.
- Continuing to undertake war work with his teaching, Bellman next went to Princeton University where he taught in the Army Specialized Training Program.
- Bellman returned immediately to Princeton where he completed his doctoral studies under Lefschetz's supervision.
- After a second period of time at RAND, Bellman spent a year on leave from Stanford, working at Princeton on H-bomb research.
- The decision made, Bellman left Stanford in 1952 and took up the position of Research Mathematician at RAND.
- Always one to enjoy controversy, when invited to speak at various university mathematics department seminars, Bellman delighted in justifying his choice of applied over pure mathematics as being motivated by the real world's greater challenges and mathematical demands.
- Bellman's first publication on dynamic programming appeared in 1952 and his first book on the topic An introduction to the theory of dynamic programming was published by the RAND Corporation in 1953.
- Bellman's diverse applications of these tools continued to solve a whole range of problems.
- He went on to introduce Markovian decision problems in 1957 and in 1958 he published his first paper on stochastic control processes where he introduced what is today called the Bellman equation.
- The number of papers and books which Bellman wrote is quite amazing.
- We have stopped at 1965 in giving a list of Bellman's books since it ws at this time that he left RAND and accepted an appointment as Professor of Mathematics, Electrical Engineering, and Medicine at the University of Southern California.
- Bellman received a great many honours for his outstanding contributions to the applications of mathematics.
- Also in 1970 Carnegie-Mellon University awarded Bellman the first Dickson Prize and three years later he was appointed to the ALZA Distinguished Lectureship by the Biomedical Engineering Society.
- Bellman was elected a Fellow of the Society for Mathematical Biology in 1980 and in 1983 he was elected to the National Academy of Sciences (United States).
Born 26 August 1920, Brooklyn, New York City, USA. Died 19 March 1984, Los Angeles, California, USA.
View full biography at MacTutor
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Adapted from other CC BY-SA 4.0 Sources:
- O’Connor, John J; Robertson, Edmund F: MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive