Leonid Vitalyevich Kantorovich

Leonid Vitalyevich Kantorovich
(1912 - 1986)

Soviet mathematician and economist who shared the 1975 Nobel Prize for Economics with Tjalling Koopmans for their work on the optimal allocation of scarce resources.
Kantorovich was educated at Leningrad State University, receiving his doctorate in mathematics (1930) there at the age of 18. He became a professor at Leningrad in 1934, a position he held until 1960. He headed the department of mathematics and economics in the Siberian branch of the U.S.S.R. Academy of Sciences from 1961 to 1971 and then served as head of the research laboratory at Moscow's Institute of National Economic Planning (1971-76). Kantorovich was elected to the prestigious Academy of Sciences of the Soviet Union (1964) and was awarded the Lenin Prize in 1965.

His most famous work is The Best Use of Economic Resources (1959). Kantorovich pioneered the technique of linear programming as a tool of economic planning, having developed a linear programming model in 1939. He used such mathematical techniques to show how the decentralization of decision making in a planned economy ultimately depends on a system in which prices are based on the relative scarcity of resources. Although his background was purely mathematical, his work showed a keen understanding of the economic aspects of problems. He developed a concept called resolving multipliers that corresponds to the shadow prices in Western economic literature. In his own country Kantorovich was a notable "reform" economist whose nondogmatic critical analyses of Soviet economic policy clashed with the views of his orthodox Marxist colleagues.

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