Monday, March 18, 2019

Professor Andrew (Andy) Conn passed away in his sleep on March 14, 2019.

Andy ConnProfessor Conn obtained his Ph.D. in the Department of Applied Analysis and Computer Science at the University of Waterloo in 1971. He completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the Hebrew University, Jerusalem in 1971. He was then a member of the Department of Combinatorics and Optimization and the Department of Computer Science, at Waterloo from 1972-1990. After this long period as an academic, he joined the IBM T.J. Watson Research Center in 1990 where he worked until his death.

Professor Conn's research interests were extensive but centered in mathematical programming. They were typically motivated by algorithms, and included convergence analysis, theory, applications and software. Although predominately devoted to continuous nonlinear optimization, he had an ongoing interest in applications that involved linear and discrete problems. In particular, he looked at the special structure of the problems and adapted continuous optimization techniques to their solution. In the last several years he was especially involved in large-scale nonlinear optimization and, in particular, was a co-author of the large-scale nonlinear programming package LANCELOT and the important and popular testing environment CUTE. Moreover, he had a great interest in applications of optimization to complex problems, especially those involving simulation. In particular, with Michael Henderson and Chandu Visweswariah he had been applying nonlinear optimization to circuit tuning problems. The systems they developed have successfully handled problems with thousands of nonlinear variables and constraints, and made a significant impact on IBM's circuit design.

Andy Conn's bookProfessor Conn is a past chairman of the SIAM Activity Group on Optimization. He co-authored three books, including Trust Region Methods and Introduction to Derivative-Free Optimization and authored more than eighty research papers. In 1994 he was (with Nicholas Gould and Philippe Toint) a  joint recipient of the prestigious Beale--Orchard-Hays Prize for  Excellence in Computational Mathematical Programming. In 2015, he was a recipient (with Katya Scheinberg and Luis Nunes Vicente) of the Lagrange Prize in Continuous Optimization.

At the University of Waterloo, Professor Conn supervised 10 Ph.D. students. Among these were Tom Coleman, Paul Calamai, and Yuying Li, who are presently professors in the Departments of Combinatorics & Optimization, Systems Design Engineering, and Computer Science at Waterloo.

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