Leonid V. Kantorovich was born in the city of Leningrad in January of 1912 to a meager family. His father, Vitalij Kantorovich, died when Leonid was only 10 years old leaving his mother, Polina, to raise a child herself. Leonid grew up during violent times in Russia. During the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917, Leonid and his mother flew to Byelorussia to escape the bloodshed before returning to their home more than a year later (Kantorovich).

Leonid was a naturally inquisitive child with a broad range of interests including politics and modern history. Upon entering the Mathematical Department of the Leningrad University at the mere age of 14, Leonid soon realized that his main interests lay in the fields of science and mathematics. Leonid immediately excelled at mathematics and within his second year at the University he was already working on complex and abstract mathematics. By the age of eighteen, Leonid had already distinguished himself as an authority in mathematics.

When Leonid graduated from the university he remained there to teach and continue his research in theoretical mathematics. By this period in his life, Leonid had begun to shift his concentration towards applied mathematics problems. His work in theoretical mathematics was quite renowned among his colleagues and he had received numerous accolades for his work in that field. As it would turn out, Leonid's greatest contributions would not be in theoretical mathematics at all, but rather applied mathematical economics. Such accomplishments would not have been possible, however, were it not for his early work in mathematical theory (Kantorovich).

Kantorovich describes some of his first important research by saying, "I think my most significant research in those days was that connected with analytical operations on sets and on projective sets (1929-30) where I solved some N. N. Lusin problems" (autobiography). After...