Using optimization to solve some problems in astrophysics


Robert Vanderbei

I will discuss two applications of nonlinear optimization. The first involves finding new surprising orbits for the n-body problem by minimizing the action functional. The second is the design of a telescope aperture that provides the extreme high-contrast one needs in order to image Earth-like planets orbiting nearby stars. The problem here is to maximize light throughput subject to certain constraints on the Fourier transform of the light transmission function.