Samuel Karlin

Samuel Karlin
Born (1924-06-08)June 8, 1924
Janów, Lublin Province, Second Polish Republic
Died December 18, 2007(2007-12-18) (aged 83)
Palo Alto, California, United States
Nationality Poland
Citizenship American
Alma mater Illinois Institute of Technology
Princeton University
Known for BLAST
Karlin-Rubin theorem (UMP tests of monotone likelihoods)
geometry of moments[1]
Total positivity
Tchebycheff systems
Optimal experiments
Awards National Medal of Science (1989)
John von Neumann Theory Prize (1987)
Scientific career
Fields mathematical sciences
population genetics
Institutions Stanford University
Doctoral advisor Salomon Bochner
Doctoral students Christopher Burge[2]
Thomas LIggett
John W. Pratt

Samuel Karlin (June 8, 1924 – December 18, 2007) was an American mathematician at Stanford University in the late 20th century.


Karlin was born in Janów, Poland and immigrated to Chicago as a child. Raised in an Orthodox Jewish household, Karlin became an atheist in his teenage years and remained an atheist for the rest of his life.[3]

Karlin earned his undergraduate degree from Illinois Institute of Technology; and then his doctorate in mathematics from Princeton University in 1947 (at the age of 22) under the supervision of Salomon Bochner. He was on the faculty of Caltech from 1948 to 1956, before becoming a professor of mathematics and statistics at Stanford.[3][4]

Throughout his career, Karlin made fundamental contributions to the fields of mathematical economics, bioinformatics, game theory, evolutionary theory, biomolecular sequence analysis, and total positivity.[4] He did extensive work in mathematical population genetics. In the early 1990s, Karlin and Stephen Altschul developed the Karlin-Altschul statistics, a basis for the highly used sequence similarity software program BLAST.[3]

Karlin authored ten books and more than 450 articles.[4] Karlin was a member of both the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Sciences. He won a Lester R. Ford Award in 1973.[5] In 1989, President George H. W. Bush bestowed Karlin the National Medal of Science "for his broad and remarkable research in mathematical analysis, probability theory and mathematical statistics, and in the application of these ideas to mathematical economics, mechanics, and population genetics."[6]

Karlin's three children all became scientists.[7] One of his sons, Kenneth D. Karlin, is a professor of chemistry at Johns Hopkins University and the 2009 winner of the American Chemical Society's F. Albert Cotton Award for Synthetic Chemistry.[8] His other son, Manuel, is a physician in Portland, Oregon. His daughter, Anna R. Karlin, is a theoretical computer scientist, the Microsoft Professor of Computer Science & Engineering at the University of Washington.[9]

Selected publications

  • Karlin, Samuel; Arrow, Kenneth J.; Suppes, Patrick (1960). Mathematical models in the social sciences, 1959: Proceedings of the first Stanford symposium. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press. ISBN 9780804700214.
  • Karlin, Samuel; Fabens, Augustus J. (1960), "A stationary inventory model with Markovian demand", in Arrow, Kenneth J.; Karlin, Samuel; Suppes, Patrick, Mathematical models in the social sciences, 1959: Proceedings of the first Stanford symposium, Stanford mathematical studies in the social sciences, IV, Stanford, California: Stanford University Press, pp. 159–175, ISBN 9780804700214.
  • S. Karlin and H. M. Taylor. "A First Course in Stochastic Processes." Academic Press, 1975 (second edition).
  • S. Karlin and H. M. Taylor. "A Second Course in Stochastic Processes." Academic Press, 1981.
  • S. Karlin and H. M. Taylor. "An Introduction to Stochastic Modeling, Third Edition." Academic Press, 1998. ISBN 0-12-684887-4
  • S. Karlin, D. Eisenberg, and R. Altman. "Bioinformatics: Unsolved Problems and Challenges." National Academic Press Inc., 2005. ISBN 978-0-309-10029-8.
  • S. Karlin (Ed.). "Econometrics, Time Series, and Multivariate Statistics." Academic Press, 1983. ISBN 978-0-12-398750-1.
  • S. Karlin (Author) and E. Nevo (Editor). "Evolutionary Processes and Theory." Academic Press, 1986. ISBN 978-0-12-398760-0.
  • S. Karlin. "Mathematical Methods and Theory in Games, Programming, and Economics." Dover Publications, 1992. ISBN 978-0-486-67020-1.
  • S. Karlin and E. Nevo (Eds.). "Population Genetics and Ecology." Academic Press, 1976. ISBN 978-0-12-398560-6.
  • S. Karlin and W. J. Studden. "Tchebycheff systems: With applications in analysis and statistics (pure and applied mathematics)." Interscience Publishers, 1966 (1st edition). ASIN B0006BNV2C.
  • S Karlin and S. Lessard. "Theoretical Studies on Sex Ratio Evolution." Princeton University Press, 1986. ISBN 978-0-691-08412-1
  • S. Karlin. "Theory of Infinite Games." Addison Wesley Longman Ltd. Inc., 1959. ASIN B000SNID12.
  • S. Karlin. "Total Positivity, Vol. 1." Stanford, 1968. ASIN B000LZG0Xu.
  • Karlin Samuel, Altschul Stephen F. (1990). "Methods for assessing the statistical significance of molecular sequence features by using general scoring schemes". Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 87 (6): 2264–8. doi:10.1073/pnas.87.6.2264. PMC 53667. PMID 2315319.
  • Karlin S, Altschul SF. (1993). "Applications and statistics for multiple high-scoring segments in molecular sequences". Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 90 (12): 5873–7. doi:10.1073/pnas.90.12.5873. PMC 46825. PMID 8390686.

See also


  1. Artstein, Zvi (1980). "Discrete and continuous bang-bang and facial spaces, or: Look for the extreme points". SIAM Review. 22 (2). pp. 172–185. doi:10.1137/1022026. JSTOR 2029960. MR 0564562.
    • Artstein's article has been republished in a festschrift by students of Robert J. Aumann: Artstein, Zvi (1995). "22 Discrete and continuous bang–bang and facial spaces or: Look for the extreme points". In Hart, Sergiu; Neyman, Abraham. Game and economic theory: Selected contributions in honor of Robert J. Aumann. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press. pp. 449–462. ISBN 0-472-10673-2.
  2. Burge, Christopher; Karlin, Samuel (1997). "Prediction of complete gene structures in human genomic DNA" (PDF). Journal of Molecular Biology. 268 (1): 78–94. doi:10.1006/jmbi.1997.0951. PMID 9149143. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2015-06-20.
  3. 1 2 3 Sam Karlin, mathematician who improved DNA analysis, dies
  4. 1 2 3 Sam Karlin, influential math professor, dead at 83 Archived 2008-05-12 at the Wayback Machine.
  5. Karlin, Samuel (1972). "Some mathematical models of population genetics". Amer. Math. Monthly. 79 (7): 699–739. doi:10.2307/2316262. JSTOR 2316262.
  6. US NSF - The President's National Medal of Science: Recipient Details
  7. Sam Karlin, mathematician who improved DNA analysis, dead at 83, Stanford University, retrieved 2011-01-16.
  8. Kenneth Karlin's web site at JHU, retrieved 2011-01-16.
  9. Anna Karlin's faculty web page at U. Washington, retrieved 2011-01-16.
  • Ewens, W. J. (2009). "Sam Karlin and the stochastic theory of evolutionary population genetics". Theoretical Population Biology. 75 (4): 236–238. doi:10.1016/j.tpb.2009.01.001. PMID 19496243.
  • Bodmer, W. (2009). "Sam Karlin: A personal appreciation". Theoretical Population Biology. 75 (4): 230–232. doi:10.1016/j.tpb.2009.01.005. PMID 19496242.
  • Feldman, M. W. (2009). "Sam Karlin and multi-locus population genetics". Theoretical Population Biology. 75 (4): 233–235. doi:10.1016/j.tpb.2009.01.002. PMID 19344629.
  • "Math in the News: Mathematician Sam Karlin, Known for Contributions in Computational Biology, has Died." Math Gateway of the Mathematical Association of America, February 5, 2008.
  • O'Connor, John J.; Robertson, Edmund F., "Samuel Karlin", MacTutor History of Mathematics archive, University of St Andrews .
  • Samuel Karlin at the Mathematics Genealogy Project
  • Martin, Douglas (February 21, 2008). "Samuel Karlin, Versatile Mathematician, Dies at 83". The New York Times.
  • Obituary, I.M.S. Bulletin, May 2008
  • Biography of Samuel Karlin from the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences
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