This volume features twenty-one invited lectures presented at ismp97, the 16th International Symposium on Mathematical Programming, Lausanne EPFL. They reflect the unbroken vitality, creativity, and cross-disciplinarity that have characterized Mathematical Programming ever since its inception. The papers highlight many exciting recent developments both in theory and practice and point at important and interesting directions for future investigations. Thus for sure, this collection will further stimulate the members of the Mathematical Programming community, challenging them to take up the open questions, to join the race for even more performing algorithms and to emulate the discoverers of innovative applications. Even if they cannot possibly render a detailed image of the present status and tendencies of the field, the papers well reflect the fact that Mathematical Programming has established itself as a central tool for the engineer, the financial analyst, the logistician, and the molecular biologist alike, to name just a few. Along with the growing number of routine users of Mathematical Programming, demand for both highly performing specially tailored systems and deeper insight into their foundations is also increasing rapidly. There is a rejoicing dialogue reprisal between theory and practice. Similarly, further time honored gaps are being closed in a highly fertile way. Indeed, as several papers in this volume clearly show, this concerns continuous, discrete, stochastic, and non-smooth optimizers alike. It is also striking that many long standing open problems still remain unsolved. On this fiftieth anniversary of George Dantzig's Simplex Algorithm and over thirty years after Edmonds in his seminal work set the quality mark for good algorithms, we are still looking for a good, i.e. polynomial variant of the Simplex Algorithm. Will we have to wait for an answer until the next Millenium and will it come before or with that to P=NP?