Banner Michael and Sheila Held Prize

Banner Michael and Sheila Held Prize

About the Michael and Sheila Held Prize

The Michael and Sheila Held Prize is presented annually and carries with it a $100,000 prize. The prize honors outstanding, innovative, creative, and influential research in the areas of combinatorial and discrete optimization, or related parts of computer science, such as the design and analysis of algorithms and complexity theory. This $100,000 prize is intended to recognize recent work (defined as published within the last eight years). The prize was established in 2017 by the bequest of Michael and Sheila Held.

Most Recent Recipient

Ola Svensson, School of Computer and Communication Sciences at EPFL, received the 2019 Michael and Sheila Held Prize.

Svensson has delivered a series of groundbreaking new algorithms for the traveling salesman problem, one of the most heavily studied and important questions in theoretical computer science.

The traveling salesman problem seeks to determine the shortest possible route for a person to take while visiting a given number of cities and returning to their point of origin. First posited in 1930, the problem is considered a benchmark in optimization.
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Ola Svensson (2019)
For breakthroughs in combinatorial optimization and graph-theoretic algorithms culminating in the first constant factor approximation algorithm for the asymmetric traveling salesman problem.
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Prasad Raghavendra and David Steurer (2018)
For a body of work which revolutionizes our understanding of optimization and complexity. It better explains the exact limits to efficient approximation of NP-hard problems. It provides better understanding of the computational assumptions underlying hardness of approximation. And it develops a structure theory of linear and semi-definite programming and their hierarchies, which leads to new algorithms and new lower bounds.
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