Visit to Bohr. Lagrange multipliers (Spring 1959). Son Mark (1963)

At Wheeler's insistence [38], Everett in March 1959 visited Copenhagen in order to meet with Bohr (and with Petersen and Misner as well [2]). Evidently Wheeler wanted to know the attitude of his mentor to the theory of his graduate student [19, page 8]. Everett, with his wife, stayed in Copenhagen for six weeks, until April 21 [19, page 8; 69]. The meeting with Bohr did take place, but the 75-year-old patriarch was not inclined to discuss seriously "any new (strange) upstart theory" [70] and, it seems, did not give Everett a chance to express himself. Everett has only the most gloomy memories of this meeting, and was rather reluctant to recollect it at all [19, page 8]. From Frank Tipler I have learned that Mrs. Everett said in a private conversation with L. David Raub that "Bohr refused to talk to Everett about the MWI [many-worlds interpretation]" [70a].

But in his Copenhagen hotel, the Osterport, Everett came up with a big mathematical idea, which, five years later, became the intellectual contribution to and foundation for the company "Lambda," which brought big money to him [19, page 8]. This idea, scratched, in the best traditions of science fiction, on three sheets of hotel letterhead [69], consisted of the application of Lagrange multipliers to the solution of optimization problems. The idea had to ripen for four years-perhaps because of declassification delays. (As a sign of Everett's transition from physics to mathematics during these years one may take note of a letter from P. Greene to Everett, in which interest to the concept of relative states is claimed in connection with studies of properties of cognitive systems and perceptual machines [71]).

One might say that Everett was a model of punctuality [13, 55]. In two of his main ideas one can discern features of a stable paradigm: Both ideas were born with the help of Bacchus [19, page 1; 69]), and both were published simultaneously with the birth of a child (in the second case it was his son Mark Oliver, born on April 10, 1963 [28]).

Everett's ideas in mathematics as well as in physics have not received due recognition-although mathematicians, with perhaps a twinge of jealousy, say that to reduce Everett only to a physics genius is to diminish him [72]. He is not as much honored in textbooks as, say, Joseph David Everett, FRS (1831-1904), Professor of Physics at Queens University in Belfast, famous for his work in interpolation [73, also 74]). However, Hugh Everett III did not avoid mention in high-school math textbooks, too: "It was Everett who first suggested, as early as 1963, the use of Lagrange multipliers in discrete optimization problems. However a boom in this area began after the appearance of work by Hald and Charnes devoted to the traveling-salesman problem." [75]. Abe Charnes was an important figure in mathematics [29], and in 1965 he published a note about Everett's method [76], from which one could see that the master misunderstood one of Everett's key concepts-the "gap." (As H. Greenberg notes [77], most people in optimization theory now use the term routinely, but hardly any remember it was Everett who defined it first.)

Everett's last printed work, a brief explanation in answer to Charnes' note [78], obeyed the punctuality paradigm: It appeared simultaneously with the birth of his newest "child," the private corporation "Lambda" [14].


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