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Leonid Vitalyevich Kantorovich

Born: 19-Jan-1912
Birthplace: St. Petersburg, Russia
Died: 7-Apr-1986
Location of death: Moscow, Russia
Cause of death: Illness
Remains: Buried, Novodevichy Cemetery, Moscow, Russia

Gender: Male
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Mathematician

Nationality: Russia
Executive summary: Linear programming

Mathematician Leonid Vitalyevich Kantorovich won the Nobel Prize in Economics in 1975, sharing the honor with Tjalling C. Koopmans, for their research into the effective allocation of scarce resources. Kantorovich first came to success in the Soviet Union in the 1930s, when he found a means to maximize equipment productivity in the plywood industry. He devised an interior point method for linear programming, which is now called the Kantorovich inequality, and he was the first to apply these mathematical techniques to economic planning.

Perhaps his most impressive accomplishment was mastering the delicate balance necessary to advocate various decentralizations of central economic planning in a centralized communist economy, without being purged from his academic career. Kantorovich's Nobel Prize came in the same year that his countryman Andrei Sakharov won the Nobel Peace Prize, and Kantorovich was treated as a national hero, even as the Soviet media denounced Sakharov's prize as "a cold war weapon" and he was forbidden to attend the Nobel ceremonies. After Kantorovich's death, Mikhail Gorbachev adopted most of his recommendations as a last-ditch and, ultimately, unsuccessful attempt to save the Soviet Union.

Father: Vitalij Kantorovich (d. 1922)
Mother: Paulina Saks Kantorovich
Wife: Natalie Kantorovich (physician, two children)

    University: PhD Mathematics, University of St. Petersburg (1935)
    Professor: Mathematics, University of St. Petersburg (1934-60)
    Administrator: Director of Mathematics and Economics for Serbia, USSR Academy of Sciences (1960-71)
    Administrator: Research Director, Institute of National Economic Planning (1971-76)

    Order of Lenin 1967
    Nobel Prize for Economics 1975 (with Tjalling C. Koopmans)
    American Academy of Arts and Sciences
    Econometric Society
    Russian Academy of Sciences 1962

Author of books:
Approximate Methods of Higher Analysis (1936, with V.I. Krylov)
The Mathematical Method of Production Planning and Organization (1939)
Functional Analysis in Semiordered Spaces (1950, with A.G. Pinsker and B.Z. Vulikh)
The Best Use of Economic Resources (1959)


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