On the history of the transportation and maximum flow problems

  • Alexander Schrijver

    CWI Science Park 123 1098 XG Amsterdam The Netherlands


We review two papers that are of historical interest for combinatorial optimization: an article of A. N. Tolstoĭ from 1930, in which the transportation problem is studied, and a negative cycle criterion is developed and applied to solve a (for that time) large-scale () transportation problem to optimality; and an, until recently secret, RAND report of T. E. Harris and F. S. Ross from 1955, that Ford and Fulkerson mention as motivation to study the maximum flow problem. The papers have in common that they both apply their methods to the Soviet railway network.