Samuel Karlin
Born(1924-06-08)June 8, 1924
DiedDecember 18, 2007(2007-12-18) (aged 83)
Alma materIllinois Institute of Technology
Princeton University
Known forBLAST
Karlin-Rubin theorem (UMP tests of monotone likelihoods)
geometry of moments[2]
Total positivity
Tchebycheff systems
Optimal experiments
AwardsNational Medal of Science (1989)
John von Neumann Theory Prize (1987)
Scientific career
Fieldsmathematical sciences
population genetics
InstitutionsStanford University
Doctoral advisorSalomon Bochner
Doctoral studentsChristopher Burge[1]
Thomas Liggett
Charles A. Micchelli
John W. Pratt
Stephen M. Samuels
Charles Joel Stone
Rupert G. Miller
Marcel F. Neuts

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

Education and career

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. Later in life he told his three children, who all became scientists, that walking down the street without a yarmulke on his head for the first time was a milestone in 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] Karlin authored ten books and more than 450 articles. 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]

Honors and awards

Karlin was a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences,[5] the National Academy of Sciences,[6] and the American Philosophical Society.[7] He won a Lester R. Ford Award in 1973.[8] 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."[9] He was elected to the 2002 class of Fellows of the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences.[10]

Personal life

One of Karlin's 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.[11] 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.[12]

Selected publications

See also


  1. ^ Burge, Christopher; Karlin, Samuel (1997). "Prediction of complete gene structures in human genomic DNA" (PDF). Journal of Molecular Biology. 268 (1): 78–94. CiteSeerX doi:10.1006/jmbi.1997.0951. PMID 9149143. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2015-06-20.
  2. ^ Artstein, Zvi (1980). "Discrete and continuous bang-bang and facial spaces, or: Look for the extreme points". SIAM Review. 22 (2): 172–185. doi:10.1137/1022026. JSTOR 2029960. MR 0564562.
  3. ^ a b c Dan Stober (January 16, 2008). "Sam Karlin, mathematician who improved DNA analysis, dead at 83".
  4. ^ a b Sam Karlin, influential math professor, dead at 83 Archived 2008-05-12 at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ "Samuel Karlin". American Academy of Arts & Sciences. Retrieved 2021-12-21.
  6. ^ "Samuel Karlin". Retrieved 2021-12-21.
  7. ^ "APS Member History". Retrieved 2021-12-21.
  8. ^ Karlin, Samuel (1972). "Some mathematical models of population genetics". Amer. Math. Monthly. 79 (7): 699–739. doi:10.2307/2316262. JSTOR 2316262.
  9. ^ US NSF - The President's National Medal of Science: Recipient Details
  10. ^ Fellows: Alphabetical List, Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences, retrieved 2019-10-09
  11. ^ Kenneth Karlin's web site at JHU, retrieved 2011-01-16.
  12. ^ Anna Karlin's faculty web page at U. Washington, retrieved 2011-01-16.