AMPL Forum

History of AMPL

The history of AMPL is a story of growth.

AMPL has a long history of commitment to bringing this accessible modeling language to the world. From its beginnings with the founders at Bell Labs, to its expansion into the company it is today, AMPL has never lost sight of what AMPL is and who it was created for.

AMPL then and now

From humble early days, to rapid growth and global customer expansion.

AMPL’s long history of growth, development and expansion began its journey over 20 years ago. Working at Bell Laboratories, founders Robert Fourer, David M. Gay and Brian W. Kernighan developed AMPL to help people communicate optimization models to computer systems, by leveraging the power and convenience of familiar algebraic formulations. 

Initial release

Following its general release, AMPL’s reputation grew rapidly, supporting new implementations of traditional optimization models and motivating applications in new areas. The book AMPL: A Modeling Language for Mathematical Programming became the best-recognized introduction to practical algebraic modeling.

The founders begin to take the reins

For several years, AMPL remained part of Lucent Technologies, the company that became parent to Bell Laboratories. Eventually the founders of AMPL were able to become more officially involved in the support of the customers and growth of AMPL. 

In 2010, Robert Fourer and David M. Gay met with and recruited Bill Wells to join AMPL and become the CEO. This marked the beginning of a new professional commitment and trajectory for AMPL as it was also at this time that David Gay left his employment at Sandia National Labs in Albuquerque, and began working on AMPL full time. 

AMPL Optimization Inc. begins

AMPL grew to full independence with the dissolution of AMPL Optimization LLC, and the launch of AMPL Optimization Inc., a California C-Corporation, in 2013. Since then, we have dedicated our professional efforts to providing the best optimization tools to professionals throughout business, engineering, science, and education. The response has been enthusiastic, driving steadily increasing demand and establishing AMPL as a fundamental tool in the practice of analytics.

Our growth continues

Today AMPL is a team of 15 members, with most of us focused on continued product development and the support of our customers. Our development teams boast extraordinary talent in optimization and mathematical modeling. AMPL has also expanded to include departments of marketing, consulting and of course, sales, customer support and partnership relations. 

Our customers are some of the top performing companies in over 40 major industries globally. Our continued partnerships allow us to bring the worlds best solvers, while our in-house developments of APIs, data connectors and more, provides you with a one stop shopping experience to support your application from conception through development and all the way to integration and user rollout. 

Read more about how our optimization technology can help you, or contact us for more information.

Inside perspective

AMPL through the perspective of David Gay, Founder and Director of AMPL.

“I would have loved to spend my whole career at Bell Labs — a fantastic place — but that was not to be. In 2003 the ‘‘dot com bubble’’ burst. Lucent Technologies, which after the breakup of the Bell System had become the parent company of Bell Labs, fell on hard times.”

AMPL Company

A brief timeline of AMPL

AMPL was developed by Robert Fourer, David Gay, and Brian Kernighan at Bell Laboratories. Today, AMPL supports dozens of solvers, both open source and commercial software, including BARON, COPT, CPLEX, CONOPT, Gurobi, KNITRO, LGO, LINDO Global, LOQOMINOS, Octeract, SNOPT, and Xpress. AMPL is used by more than 100 corporate clients, and by government agencies and academic institutions. 


A new comprehensive Application Programming Interface (API) becomes available to make integrating AMPL with your applications easy (including Python, R, C++, C#, Java and MATLAB)


A new cross-platform integrated development environment (IDE) for AMPL becomes available


AMPL Optimization, Inc was founded by the inventors of AMPL, Robert Fourer, David Gay, and Brian Kernighan. The new company was dedicated to the continued development and support of the AMPL modeling language and to making AMPL available to developers and modelers the world over.


AMPL book becomes freely available online


Robert Fourer, David Gay, and Brian Kernighan were awarded the 2012 INFORMS Impact Prize as the originators of one of the most important algebraic modeling languages.


Kestrel: An AMPL Interface to the NEOS Server introduced


AMPL Modeling Language Google group opened


Support for constraint programming


Relational database and spreadsheet access


AMPL supports complementarity theory problems


Enhanced support for nonlinear solvers


Scripting constructs


Extensions for representing piecewise-linear and network structures


Robert Fourer, David Gay, and Brian Kernighan were awarded ORSA/CSTS Price by the Operations Research Society of America, for writings on the design of mathematical programming systems and the AMPL modeling language


AMPL supports nonlinear programming and automatic differentiation


Paper describing the AMPL modeling language was published in Management Science


AMPL was designed and implemented

Featured content about AMPL's company and founders

Podcast Interview

Brian Kernighan, founder and director of AMPL speaks with Lex Fridman about AMPL

AMPL Video

Robert Fourer on what is new to AMPL in 2020

Follow along as we grow

AMPL is continually expanding into new industries with enhanced products and world-class consulting services.  We are always interested in talking with talented and self-motivated individuals in marketing, design, consulting, and of course, mathematical software development.  Learn more here about our current job listings.