He studied at the Jesuit Baghdad College and American University of Beirut before entering Princeton in his junior year. He majored in civil engineering, was a member of Colonial Club, and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. In 1955 he earned a master’s degree from Princeton and in 1959 a Ph.D. in applied mathematics at Harvard University.
In 1959 Olvi married Claire Garabedian. After eight years with Shell Development Co. in Berkeley, Calif., he joined the faculty of the computer sciences department at the University of Wisconsin, where upon retirement in 2003, with over 200 peer-reviewed publications, and having mentored 28 Ph.D. students, he became the John von Neumann Professor Emeritus of Mathematics and Computer Sciences. His research in mathematical programming was very elegant, had great impact, and provided the basis for many subsequent extensions. After retiring, he spent winter months as a research scientist in the mathematics department at the University of California, San Diego.
Olvi’s love of classical music began in his college years and continued throughout his life. He was partial to the Baroque period and to Johann Sebastian Bach in particular.
Olvi is survived by his wife, Claire; sons Leon, Jeffrey, and Aram; and six grandchildren, Tarrant, Kyra, Carl-Leon, Alma, Samuel, and Elise.