Michael J. D. Powell

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Michael Powell

Michael James David Powell

(1936-07-29)29 July 1936
Died19 April 2015(2015-04-19) (aged 78)[2]
EducationFrensham Heights School
Eastbourne College
Alma materUniversity of Cambridge (BA, ScD)[3]
Known forPowell's method
Davidon–Fletcher–Powell formula
AwardsNaylor Prize and Lectureship
Scientific career
FieldsNumerical analysis
InstitutionsUniversity of Cambridge

Michael James David Powell FRS FAA[2] (29 July 1936 – 19 April 2015) was a British mathematician, who worked in the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics (DAMTP) at the University of Cambridge.[3][1][4][5][6]

Education and early life[edit]

Born in London, Powell was educated at Frensham Heights School and Eastbourne College.[2] He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree[when?] followed by a Doctor of Science (DSc) degree in 1979 at the University of Cambridge.[7]

Career and research[edit]

Powell was known for his extensive work in numerical analysis, especially nonlinear optimisation and approximation. He was a founding member of the Institute of Mathematics and its Applications and a founding Managing Editor of the Journal for Numerical Analysis.[citation needed] His mathematical contributions include quasi-Newton methods, particularly the Davidon–Fletcher–Powell formula and the Powell's Symmetric Broyden formula, augmented Lagrangian function (also called Powell–Rockafellar penalty function), sequential quadratic programming method (also called as Wilson–Han–Powell method), trust region algorithms (Powell's dog leg method), conjugate direction method (also called Powell's method), and radial basis function.[citation needed] He had been working on derivative-free optimization algorithms in recent years, the resultant algorithms including COBYLA, UOBYQA, NEWUOA, BOBYQA, and LINCOA.[8] He was the author of numerous scientific papers[1] and of several books, most notably Approximation Theory and Methods.[9]

Awards and honours[edit]

Powell won several awards, including the George B. Dantzig Prize from the Mathematical Programming Society/Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM) and the Naylor Prize from the London Mathematical Society.[when?] Powell was elected a Foreign Associate of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States in 2001 and as a corresponding fellow to the Australian Academy of Science in 2007.[7][10][11][12]


  1. ^ a b c Michael J. D. Powell publications indexed by Google Scholar Edit this at Wikidata
  2. ^ a b c Buhmann, Martin D.; Fletcher, Roger; Iserles, Arieh; Toint, Philippe (2018). "Michael J. D. Powell. 29 July 1936 – 19 April 2015" (PDF). Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society. 64. London: Royal Society: 341–366. doi:10.1098/rsbm.2017.0023. ISSN 0080-4606. S2CID 59006501.
  3. ^ a b Michael J. D. Powell at the Mathematics Genealogy Project
  4. ^ ICNAAO 2016 (5 August—7, 2016, Beijing), a memorial conference organized by Professor Ya-xiang Yuan
  5. ^ A memorial site set up by Dr. Dominique Orban
  6. ^ An Interview with M. J. D. Powell by Luís Nunes Vicente, 14 June 2003
  7. ^ a b "Powell in Oral History of SIAM". SIAM. 6 April 2005. see also An Interview with M. J. D. Powell by Philip J. Davis, 6 April 2005
  8. ^ "PRIMA: Reference Implementation for Powell's Methods with Modernization and Amelioration". Retrieved 23 April 2023.
  9. ^ Approximation Theory and Methods, ISBN 978-0521295147.
  10. ^ An Interview with M. J. D. Powell by Xiaoling Sun, 2006
  11. ^ Citation for winning the Catherine Richards Prize
  12. ^ "Optimization software by Professor M. J. D. Powell at CCPForge". Archived from the original on 19 April 2015. Retrieved 13 April 2015.