Richard M. Karp

Richard Manning Karp

Richard Karp giving a talk at the EPFL on 13th of July 2009
Born (1935-01-03) January 3, 1935
Boston, Massachusetts
Nationality American
Fields Computer Science
Institutions University of California, Berkeley
Alma mater Harvard University
Thesis Some Applications of Logical Syntax to Digital Computer Programming (1959)
Doctoral advisor Anthony Oettinger[1]
Doctoral students
Known for Edmonds–Karp algorithm
Karp's 21 NP-complete problems
Hopcroft–Karp algorithm
Karp–Lipton theorem
Rabin–Karp string search algorithm
Notable awards Turing Award (1985)
John von Neumann Theory Prize (1990)
National Medal of Science (1996)
Harvey Prize
Benjamin Franklin Medal
Kyoto Prize

Richard Manning Karp (born January 3, 1935) is an American computer scientist and computational theorist at the University of California, Berkeley. He is most notable for his research in the theory of algorithms, for which he received a Turing Award in 1985, The Benjamin Franklin Medal in Computer and Cognitive Science in 2004, and the Kyoto Prize in 2008.[2]


Born to Abraham and Rose Karp in Boston, Massachusetts, Karp has three younger siblings: Robert, David, and Carolyn. He attended Harvard University, where he received his bachelor's degree in 1955, his master's degree in 1956, and his Ph.D. in applied mathematics in 1959.

He started working at IBM's Thomas J. Watson Research Center. In 1968, he became Professor of Computer Science, Mathematics, and Operations Research at the University of California, Berkeley. Apart from a 4-year period as a professor at the University of Washington, he has remained at Berkeley. From 1988 to 1995 and 1999 to the present he has also been a Research Scientist at the International Computer Science Institute in Berkeley, where he currently leads the Algorithms Group.

Richard Karp was awarded the National Medal of Science, and was the recipient of the Harvey Prize of the Technion and the 2004 Benjamin Franklin Medal in Computer and Cognitive Science for his insights into computational complexity. In 1994 he was inducted as a Fellow of the Association for Computing Machinery. He is the recipient of several honorary degrees.

In 2012, Karp became the founding director of the Simons Institute for the Theory of Computing at the University of California, Berkeley.[3]


He has made many other important discoveries in computer science and operations research in the area of combinatorial algorithms. His major current research interests include bioinformatics.

In 1971 he co-developed with Jack Edmonds the Edmonds–Karp algorithm for solving the max-flow problem on networks, and in 1972 he published a landmark paper in complexity theory, "Reducibility Among Combinatorial Problems", in which he proved 21 Problems to be NP-complete.[4]

In 1973 he and John Hopcroft published the Hopcroft–Karp algorithm, still the fastest known method for finding maximum cardinality matchings in bipartite graphs.

In 1980, along with Richard J. Lipton, Karp proved the Karp-Lipton theorem (which proves that, if SAT can be solved by Boolean circuits with a polynomial number of logic gates, then the polynomial hierarchy collapses to its second level).

In 1987 he co-developed with Michael O. Rabin the Rabin-Karp string search algorithm.

Turing Award

His citation[5] for the Turing Award was as follows:

For his continuing contributions to the theory of algorithms including the development of efficient algorithms for network flow and other combinatorial optimization problems, the identification of polynomial-time computability with the intuitive notion of algorithmic efficiency, and, most notably, contributions to the theory of NP-completeness. Karp introduced the now standard methodology for proving problems to be NP-complete which has led to the identification of many theoretical and practical problems as being computationally difficult.


  1. 1 2 Richard M. Karp at the Mathematics Genealogy Project.
  2. Richard Manning Karp - THE 2008 KYOTO PRIZE - Advanced Technology
  3. "California Chosen as Home for Computing Institute". The New York Times. 30 April 2012. Retrieved 23 October 2016.
  4. Richard M. Karp (1972). "Reducibility Among Combinatorial Problems" (PDF). In R. E. Miller and J. W. Thatcher (editors). Complexity of Computer Computations. New York: Plenum. pp. 85103.
  5. Association for Computing Machinery. "ACM Award Citation/Richard M. Karp". Retrieved 2010-01-17.
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Preceded by
John McCarthy
Benjamin Franklin Medal in Computer and Cognitive Science
Succeeded by
Aravind Joshi
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