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Albert William Tucker, 1961-1962 MAA President

Born: November 28, 1905, Ontario, Canada
Died: January 25, 1995, Hightstown, New Jersey

Albert William Tucker was a mathematics professor at Princeton University, a pioneer of linear programming and game theory, and a leader in the mathematical community.

Presidency: 1961-1962

At the 1962 summer meeting, Tucker gave a talk on "The Problem of Staffing College Departments of Mathematics." E.E. Moise then made remarks to open a discussion on the problem.

Education and Career

1928 University of Toronto, B.A.
1929 University of Toronto, M.A.
1932 Princeton University, Ph.D.

After earning his Ph.D., Tucker spent a year as a National Research Fellow at Cambridge, Harvard, and the University of Chicago. He rejoined Princeton as an instructor in 1933. He had become a full professor by 1946.

Tucker spent 1949-50 on sabbatical at Stanford University. There, to explain game theory to psychology students, he reformulated the Dresher-Flood game as the Prisoner's Dilemma, now a well-known example of a non-zero-sum game.

At Princeton, Tucker advised eleven doctoral theses. One of them, completed by John Nash in 1950, later earned Nash a Nobel Prize in economics. Tucker chaired the department starting in 1953 and retired in 1974.

Tucker was the 1956-57 MAA's national visiting lecturer, vice president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a council member and trustee of the American Mathematical Society, chair of the Conference Board of the Mathematical Sciences, the initial mathematical consultant to the President's Council of Scientific Advisors, chair of the College Board Commission on School Mathematics, and a member of the Committee on the Undergraduate Program in Mathematics.

He won the MAA's Gung and Hu Distinguished Service to Mathematics Award in 1968. The citation praised his work as a teacher, researcher, leader in the mathematical community, and reformer of mathematics curriculum. The Mathematical Optimization Society (formerly the Mathematical Programming Society) awards the A.W. Tucker Prize for outstanding doctoral theses.

In 1938, Tucker married D.R. Curtiss' daughter Alice Judson Curtiss.

External Resources

MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive biography

A.W. Tucker: Some Reminiscences (pdf)

Princeton obituary

New York Times obituary

IFORS' Operational Research Hall of Fame: Albert William Tucker (pdf)

Gung and Hu Distinguished Service to Mathematics Award citation

Mathematical People: Profiles and Interviews, by Donald J. Albers and Gerald L. Alexanderson

Albert William Tucker Papers, 1946-1983 at the Archives of American Mathematics

Records of editors, presidents, and secretaries from MAA headquarters, Albert W. Tucker, president, 1953-1963 at the Archives of American Mathematics

Oral history interview with Albert W. Tucker

The Princeton Mathematics Community in the 1930s: An Oral-History Project

"Pivoting and Extensions: In Honor of A.W. Tucker"

The Mathematics Genealogy Project

"Albert W. Tucker, 1905-1995," MAA FOCUS, Volume 15, Number 2, pages 1 and 3