I recently wondered whether optimization ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operations_research) could be considered as a GPT.
General-purpose technologies (GPTs) are technologies that can affect an entire economy (usually at a national or global level). GPTs have the potential to drastically alter societies through their impact on pre-existing economic and social structures. Examples include the steam engine, railroad, interchangeable parts, electricity, electronics, material handling, mechanization, control theory (automation), the automobile, the computer, and the Internet.
If you add all the Edelman prize stories and multiply with what could still be done, I am not sure optimization should be considered as a small part of the computer GPT as it often is but rather as an autonomous GPT like lean production or mass production. Of course, let us stay modest and do not compare with agriculture or electricity.
Maybe this positioning could help the entire community to better attract talents, funding and projects.
These views are my own and I am interested in comments.