William J. “Bill” Cook, Chandler Family Chair and professor in the Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineering, continues to receive notable reviews for his new book In Pursuit of the Traveling Salesman: Mathematics at the Limits of Computation. Recently featured in The New York Times, as well as The Wall Street Journal, Cook’s book examines the origins and history of the Traveling Salesman Problem, which involves finding the shortest possible route for a traveling salesman seeking to visit each city on a list exactly once and return to his city of origin.
In a review for The New York Times, writer Jennifer Schuessler makes an interesting comparison between the famous Broadway play “The Death of a Salesman” and The Traveling Salesman Problem, both of which coincidentally got their start in 1949. According to Schuessler, solutions from Cook’s new book might have saved the play’s “tragic hero,” Willy Loman, at least some of his exhaustion.
The Wall Street Journal also recently featured a review of Cook’s book in an article titled “The Fuzzy Path May Be Shortest.” Writer Jordan Ellenberg, a mathematics professor at the University of Wisconsin, praises Cook for focusing on how to solve The Traveling Salesman Problem practically, while applying it to real-world problems. Though the book contains heavy mathematical content, Ellenberg states, “Mr. Cook's affable style means that you're never too far from an enjoyable historical anecdote or an offbeat application of a problem that has interested some of the best minds in applied math for most of a century and that shows no signs of getting stale.”
Cook, also an adjunct professor in the School of Mathematics, is the author or editor of seven books, including The Traveling Salesman Problem: A Computational Study which was released in 2006.