Magnus Hestenes

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Magnus Hestenes
BornFebruary 13, 1906
DiedMay 31, 1991 (1991-06-01) (aged 85)
Los Angeles, California, US
Alma materUniversity of Chicago
Known forAugmented Lagrangian method
Conjugate gradient method
AwardsGuggenheim Fellowship (1954)
Scientific career
InstitutionsUniversity of California, Los Angeles
Doctoral advisorGilbert Bliss
Doctoral students

Magnus Rudolph Hestenes (February 13, 1906 – May 31, 1991) was an American mathematician best known for his contributions to calculus of variations and optimal control.[1] As a pioneer in computer science, he devised the conjugate gradient method, published jointly with Eduard Stiefel.[2][3]


Born in Bricelyn, Minnesota, Hestenes graduated with a B.S. in 1927 from St. Olaf College and with an M.A. in 1928 from the University of Wisconsin–Madison.[4] He earned his Ph.D. at the University of Chicago in 1932 under Gilbert Bliss. His dissertation was titled "Sufficient Conditions for the General Problem of Mayer with Variable End-Points." After teaching as an associate professor at Chicago, in 1947 he moved to a professorship at UCLA. He continued there until his retirement in 1973, and during that time he served as department chair from 1950 to 1958. While a professor, Hestenes supervised the thesis research of 34 students, among them Glen Culler, Richard Tapia and Jesse Wilkins, Jr.

Hestenes received the Guggenheim (1954) and Fulbright awards, was a vice president of the American Mathematical Society, and was an invited speaker at the 1954 International Congress of Mathematicians in Amsterdam.[5]

He is the father of mathematician and physicist David Hestenes.

He died on May 31, 1991, in Los Angeles, California.

Selected publications[edit]

  • Hestenes, Magnus Rudolph (1928). Path of a Rotating Sphere. University of Wisconsin–Madison. (M.A. thesis)
  • ——— (1966). Calculus of Variations and Optimal Control Theory. Wiley. ISBN 9780471374701.
  • ——— (1975). Optimization Theory: The Finite Dimensional Case. Wiley. ISBN 9780471374718.[6]
  • ——— (1980). Conjugate Direction Methods in Optimization. Springer. ISBN 9783540904557.
  • Landesman, Edward M.; ——— (1992). Linear Algebra for Mathematics, Science, and Engineering. Prentice Hall. ISBN 9780135295618.


  1. ^ Hestenes, Magnus R. (1966). Calculus of Variations and Optimal Control Theory. New York: John Wiley & Sons.
  2. ^ Hestenes, Magnus; Stiefel, E. (1952). "Methods of Conjugate Gradients for Solving Linear Systems" (PDF). Journal of Research of the National Bureau of Standards. 49 (6): 409–438. doi:10.6028/jres.049.044.
  3. ^ Hestenes, Magnus (1990). "Conjugacy and Gradients". In Nash, Stephen (ed.). A History of Scientific Computing. New York: ACM Press. pp. 167–179. ISBN 0-201-50814-1.
  4. ^ "Magnus R. Hestenes". Computer Pioneers by J. A. N. Lee, IEEE Computer Society.
  5. ^ Hestenes, Magnus R. (1954). "Hilbert space methods in variational theory and numerical analysis". In: Proceedings of the International Congress of Mathematicians. Vol. 3. pp. 229–236.
  6. ^ Jeroslow, Robert G. (1977). "Book Review: Optimization theory, the finite dimensional case". Bulletin of the American Mathematical Society. 83 (3): 324–336. doi:10.1090/S0002-9904-1977-14252-3.

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