Michael J. D. Powell

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Michael Powell

Michael James David Powell

(1936-07-29)July 29, 1936
DiedApril 19, 2015(2015-04-19) (aged 78)[1]
EducationFrensham Heights School
Eastbourne College
Alma materUniversity of Cambridge (BA, ScD)[2]
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[1] (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.[2][3][4][5][6][7]

Education and early life[edit]

Born in London, Powell was educated at Frensham Heights School and Eastbourne College.[1] He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree[when?] followed by a Doctor of Science (DSc) degree in 1979 at the University of Cambridge.[8]

Career and research[edit]

Powell was known for his extensive work in numerical analysis, especially nonlinear optimization 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, 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. He was the author of numerous scientific papers[3] 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.[8][10][11][12][13]


  1. ^ 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. London: Royal Society. doi:10.1098/rsbm.2017.0023. ISSN 0080-4606.
  2. ^ a b Michael J. D. Powell at the Mathematics Genealogy Project
  3. ^ a b c Michael J. D. Powell publications indexed by Google Scholar Edit this at Wikidata
  4. ^ ICNAAO 2016 (August 5--7, 2016, Beijing), a memorial conference organized by Professor Ya-xiang Yuan
  5. ^ A memorial site set up by Dr. Dominique Orban
  6. ^ A memorial page set up by an academic grandchild of Powell
  7. ^ An Interview with M. J. D. Powell by Luís Nunes Vicente, 14 June 2003
  8. ^ 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
  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
  13. ^ A repository of M.J.D. Powell's software