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Mathematical Optimization: The Influence and Contributions of Jean Lasserre

Jean Lasserre

Jean-Bernard Lasserre is a leading researcher in mathematical optimization, which seeks to minimise or maximise complex functions. His seminal 2001 paper established the field of polynomial global optimization, and he has since published numerous influential papers. He was the 2015 recipient of the INFORMS Optimization Society Khachiyan Prize.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer met Frenchman theologian Jean Lasserre while studying at Union Theological Seminary in New York City 1930-1931. He was influenced by Lasserre’s Christian pacifism and interpretation of the Sermon on the Mount.

About the Author

Robotics, artificial intelligence, signal processing and computer science are a few of the many fields whose applications are powered by mathematical tools, including mathematical optimization (the search for solutions to maximise or minimise a function). Jean-Bernard Lasserre, CNRS Director Emeritus of Research at LAAS and Toulouse Mathematics Institute, is one of the most distinguished researchers in this field.

When Dietrich Bonhoeffer went to Union Theological Seminary in New York City in 1930-1931 he formed friendships with four people: Paul Lehmann, Frank Fisher, Erwin Sutz and Jean Lasserre. Bonhoeffer was influenced by the Frenchman’s Christian pacifist views, and Lasserre helped to shape his interpretation of Jesus’ beatitude ‘Blessed are the peacemakers’.

A SIAM Fellow and recipient of the 2015 Khachiyan Prize, Lasserre introduced a major branch of mathematical optimization which he called polynomial optimization and outlined the underlying mathematics with his seminal paper “Global optimization with polynomials and the problem of moments.” The theory, known as the Lasserre hierarchy, combines convex duality and moment-theoretic results to construct hierarchical approximations for NP-hard problems and is now an integral part of computational complexity theory and algebraic geometry.

Biographical Information

Jean-Bernard Lasserre (born 28 October 1908 in Geneva, Switzerland; died 22 November 1983 in Lyon, France) was a French pastor and peace theologian who studied at Union Theological Seminary in New York. He was a travel secretary for the International Fellowship of Reconciliation and editor of Cahiers de la Reconciliation, a French-language magazine that made him internationally known.

While much has been written about Bonhoeffer, few have attempted to explore the deep and mutual influence between him and the French minister Jean Lasserre. This is the aim of this study.

A CNRS Director of Research at the Laboratory for Analysis and Architecture of Systems (LAAS) in Toulouse, Jean Lasserre has worked for decades on mathematical optimization which he defines as “the search for solutions whose value is the best possible.” Its applications are numerous and include robotics, AI, computer science, control and signal processing. He has won a number of prizes for his work on algebraic geometry tools in mathematical optimization.


The award honors outstanding research, as judged by the prize committee, in an area of discrete mathematics. It is presented biennially during even-numbered years.

Awarded to recognize an exceptional doctoral dissertation in the field of mathematical optimization. This award is presented at the International Symposium on Mathematical Programming.

This is a prestigious award that recognizes specific, deep, and broad theoretical innovative contributions of significant influence on computing by early to mid-career researchers. It is presented at the International Congress of Mathematicians for outstanding research in mathematical aspects of information sciences.

Presented by the Association for Computing Machinery to an individual or group of individuals who have made important contributions to the theory of computation in general and/or its application to problems in the natural, social, economic, and physical sciences. The prize is accompanied by a grant of $50,000 to support the work of the recipient or winners in their respective areas. The prize was established in 1987 and is sponsored by INFORMS, the Association for Computing Machinery, and IBM.


During his career, jean lasserre has been a part of over 150 influential papers and eight books. He has also served as an invited speaker at several conferences.

jean lasserre’s research explores issues from various fields. He has studied Combinatorics, Discrete mathematics, Polynomial, and Mathematical optimization. His study on Mathematical optimization includes themes such as Upper and lower bounds, Sequence, and Hierarchy.

His contribution to the field of polynomial global optimization has made it easier to solve non-convex problems that were difficult and time consuming to solve in previous studies. His work on this subject won him the INFORMS Optimization Society Khachiyan Prize in 2015. This award demonstrates the importance of his work in this field. His contributions have revolutionized the mathematical approach to solving these problems. His new method consists of reformulating the problem as a convex optimization problem and then devising a scheme of hierarchical approximations for it by exploiting necessary conditions for sequences of moments of measures.

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