School 29

Olvi Mangasarian

January 12, 1934 ~ March 15, 2020 (age 86)


Madison:  Olvi Leon Mangasarian, 86, died at University of Wisconsin Hospital in Madison on March 15, 2020.

The son of Leon Mangasarian and Josephine Amassian Mangasarian, Armenian refugees, who fled during the 1915 Armenian genocide in the Ottoman Empire, he was born in 1934 in Baghdad, Iraq. He studied at the Jesuit Baghdad College and American University of Beirut before completing his final two years of undergraduate work on full scholarship at Princeton University where he majored in Civil Engineering and was a member of the Colonial Club. He graduated from Princeton Phi Beta Kappa with a B.S.E. in 1954 and an M.S.E. in 1955. Olvi went on to study applied mathematics at Harvard University where he experienced the potential and frustrations of the emerging computer age, working on the Univac, a room-sized computer, powered by vacuum tubes that continually needed to be replaced and using punch cards that at times cascaded helter-skelter across floor. Olvi received his PhD at Harvard University in 1959.

In 1959, Olvi married Claire Garabedian, initiating a solid alliance for the next 60+ years. They lived in Berkeley, CA where he worked at Shell Development Co. In 1967, they moved to Madison when Olvi joined the faculty of the Computer Sciences Department at the University of Wisconsin. An avid researcher, with over 200 peer reviewed publications, and a dedicated teacher, having mentored 28 PhD students at UW, Olvi was chairman of the Computer Sciences Department for 3 year in the 1970s. In 1996, he was the recipient of the Hilldale Award in the Physical Sciences division for distinguished professional accomplishment. As a member of the editorial board of SIAM (Society of Industrial and Applied  Mathematics) from 1969-84 and a corresponding editor from 1985-93, he received the designation of Siam Fellow for advancing the application of mathematics to science and industry. Among other honors, he received the 2000 INFORMS Lanchester Prize for machine learning and data mining.

Professor Mangasarian, the John von Neumann Professor Emeritus of Mathematics and  Computer Sciences at the UW, was a pioneer and leader in the field of mathematical programming where his fundamental contributions range from abstract theory to practical applications. His results have been characterized as very elegant, having great impact and providing the basis for many subsequent extensions.  His 1969 monograph, Nonlinear Programming, which has remained to date an invaluable textbook for students and reference for researchers, was reproduced in 1994 as the 10th SIAM Classics in Applied Mathematics.

Winters in Madison are long. Ice and snow are part of the package. While invigorating when young, at an older age the Wisconsin winter loses its appeal. After Olvi's retirement from the UW, he and Claire began spending the winter months in San Diego, CA. During these months Olvi worked as a Research Scientist in the Mathematics Department at the University of California, San Diego, where he enjoyed interaction with colleagues.

Olvi's love of classical music began in his college years and continued throughout his life. Like many mathematicians, he was partial to the Baroque period. Johann Sebastian Bach topped his play list and concerts at the Wisconsin Union Theater were his delight.

Olvi is survived by his wife, Claire; his son, Leon of Potsdam, Germany; his son, Jeffrey of Lake Forest, IL; his son, Aram of Paris, France; and 6 grandchildren: Tarrant, Kyra, Carl-Leon, Alma, Samuel and Elise.

Due to restriction on travel and gathering at this time, a memorial and celebration of Olvi's life will be postponed, probably until summer. We will inform colleagues and friends when a date is decided.  Olvi's family request that any gifts in his memory be directed through the UW Foundation and designated to the Dept. of Computer Sciences Annual Fund or the Wisconsin Union Theater Director's Discretionary Fund.

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Cress Center

6021 University Ave. Madison

(608) 238-8406


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