Why is "dynamic programming" called by that name?06 Aug 2017
In about 42:10 minutes in Lecture 2 of MIT OCW 6.0002, Prof. John Guttag inserted in his lecture the history of dynamic programming — why is it called “dynamic programming”?
He said that the inventor, Richard Bellman, chose the name “dynamic programming” because
… it did not mean anything. The inventor was doing mathematics and at that time, he was being funded by a part of the defense department that didn’t approve of mathematics, and he wanted to conceal that fact…
In his slides, he qouted the inventor himself:
“The 1950s were not good years for mathematical research… I felt I had to do something to sheild Wilson and the Air Force from the fact that I was really doing mathematics… What title, what name, could I choose? … It’s impossible to use the word dynamic in a pejorative sense. Try thinking of some combination that will possibly give it a pejorative meaning. It’s impossible. Thus, I thought dynamic programming was a good name. It was something not even a Congressman could object to. So I used it as an umbrella for my activities.
— Richard Bellman