Jaydan Aguirre

2022-07-05

Dantzig's unsolved homework problems

An event in George Dantzig's life became the origin of a famous story in 1939 while he was a graduate student at UC Berkeley. Near the beginning of a class for which Dantzig was late, professor Jerzy Neyman wrote two examples of famously unsolved statistics problems on the blackboard. When Dantzig arrived, he assumed that the two problems were a homework assignment and wrote them down. According to Dantzig, the problems "seemed to be a little harder than usual", but a few days later he handed in completed solutions for the two problems, still believing that they were an assignment that was overdue.

What were the two unsolved problems which Dantzig had solved?

An event in George Dantzig's life became the origin of a famous story in 1939 while he was a graduate student at UC Berkeley. Near the beginning of a class for which Dantzig was late, professor Jerzy Neyman wrote two examples of famously unsolved statistics problems on the blackboard. When Dantzig arrived, he assumed that the two problems were a homework assignment and wrote them down. According to Dantzig, the problems "seemed to be a little harder than usual", but a few days later he handed in completed solutions for the two problems, still believing that they were an assignment that was overdue.

What were the two unsolved problems which Dantzig had solved?

Jordan Mcpherson

Beginner2022-07-06Added 16 answers

I think the two problems appear in these papers:

Dantzig, George B. "On the Non-Existence of Tests of 'Student's' Hypothesis Having Power Functions Independent of Sigma." Annals of Mathematical Statistics. No. 11; 1940 (pp. 186-192).

Dantzig, George B. and Abraham Wald. "On the Fundamental Lemma of Neyman and Pearson." Annals of Mathematical Statistics. No. 22; 1951 (pp. 87-93).

EDIT: In case snopes ever goes belly up, the story can be found in Albers, Reid, and Dantzig, An Interview with George B. Dantzig: The Father of Linear Programming, College Math J 17 (1986) 292-314. The interview has also been reprinted in Albers, Alexanderson, and Reid, More Mathematical People, page 67

Dantzig, George B. "On the Non-Existence of Tests of 'Student's' Hypothesis Having Power Functions Independent of Sigma." Annals of Mathematical Statistics. No. 11; 1940 (pp. 186-192).

Dantzig, George B. and Abraham Wald. "On the Fundamental Lemma of Neyman and Pearson." Annals of Mathematical Statistics. No. 22; 1951 (pp. 87-93).

EDIT: In case snopes ever goes belly up, the story can be found in Albers, Reid, and Dantzig, An Interview with George B. Dantzig: The Father of Linear Programming, College Math J 17 (1986) 292-314. The interview has also been reprinted in Albers, Alexanderson, and Reid, More Mathematical People, page 67

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