People like Paul Krugman would call this type of post “wonky”. You have been warned.

In preparation for teaching Mathematics for Economists I for graduate students tomorrow, I decided to see what the Web has on Karush, of the Karush-Kuhn-Tucker theorem. I should have done it earlier! Even though I had been writing Karush-Kuhn-Tucker in my lecture notes almost from the first time I taught mathematics for economists, I did not have much to offer my students on the mystery of why Karush’s work was never published. Why I never searched online about it before I do not understand. Nevertheless, I hit a goldmine in my search today: a paper by R.W. Cottle that offers a lot of fascinating details on Karush and Kunh-Tucker, along with photos of the protagonists and excerpts of letters between Kuhn and Karush, when Kuhn belatedly discovered Karush’s master’s thesis, which pretty much anticipated the Kuhn-Tucker theorem, and hastened to give credit to Karush to fix the historical record. And how did Kuhn discover that Karush had done this? By reading Akira Takayama’s massive 1974 book on Mathematical Economics.

Call me a hopeless nerd, but I find this fascinating. A bit of human interest to liven up all the constrained maximization we do for our work, in one way or another, every day.

The URL where I discovered the paper is

http://www.math.uiuc.edu/documenta/vol-ismp/41_cottle-richard.pdf

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