Nuclear Museum Logo
Nuclear Museum Logo

National Museum of Nuclear Science & History

William Karush

Associate PhysicistChicago, IL

Oak Ridge, TN
Manhattan Project VeteranScientist

William Karush (1917-1997) was an American mathematician and physicist.

After earning his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago in 1942, Karush worked briefly at the Carnegie Institution of Washington before returning to Chicago to join the Manhattan Project. From 1943-1945, Karush was an associate physicist at the University of Chicago’s Metallurgical Laboratory and at Oak Ridge, where he helped solve mathematical physics problems related to the design of nuclear reactors. He signed the Szilard Petition, which attempted to avert the use of the atomic bombs against Japan, and later became a peace activist.

Scientific Contributions

After the war, Karush was a professor at the University of Chicago and at California State University, Northridge, and also worked in private industry for a decade. He edited Webster’s New World Dictionary of Mathematics. Karush is best known for the Karush-Kuhn-Tucker (KKT) Optimality Conditions, which he first developed in 1939 for his unpublished master’s thesis and were rediscovered in the 1950s. His role in this discovery was not recognized until the 1970s. The KKT Conditions are one of the most important contributions to the field of mathematical optimization and nonlinear programming.

William Karush's Timeline
1917 Mar 1st Born in Chicago, Illinois.
1938 Received a B.S. from the University of Chicago.
1939 Received an M.S. in Mathematics from the University of Chicago.
1942 Received a Ph.D. in Mathematics from the University of Chicago.
19421943 Worked as a mathematician at the Carnegie Institution of Washington.
19431945 Worked on the Manhattan Project at the University of Chicago's Metallurgical Laboratory and at Oak Ridge, Tennessee.
1945 Signed the Szilard Petition.
19451956 Served as an instructor and Associate Professor in Mathematics at the University of Chicago.
19561957 Senior Staff Member at the Ramo-Wooldridge Corporation.
19581967 Worked as Senior Operations Research Scientist and Principal Scientist at the System Development Corporation.
19671997 Professor and Emeritus Professor of Mathematics at California State University, Northridge.
1989 Edited Webster’s New World Dictionary of Mathematics.
1997 Feb 22nd Died in Los Angeles, California.

Related Profiles

Loren R. Bourg

Los Alamos, NM

R. C. Schuler

X-10 Graphite Reactor

R. C. Schuler worked for Clinton Laboratories at the X-10 Reactor.

Uzal Girard Ent

Wendover, UT

​Uzal Girard Ent was a United States Army Air Forces Officer and Commanding General, Second Air Force, headquartered in Colorado Springs, CO.

K. L. Townsend

Oak Ridge, TN

K. L. Townsend worked for the United States Engineer District Office.