FastOpt was founded in February 2000  in Hamburg by Ralf Giering and Thomas Kaminski. Their respective backgrounds are in physics and mathematical physics. They met at the Max-Planck-Institute of Meteorology in Hamburg, where they worked on climate research.

Ralf first addressed Automatic Differentiation (AD) in the late eighties. In the early nineties he developed the Adjoint Model Compiler (AMC), a tool for automatic generation of adjoint code, for which he was awarded the Max-Planck-Society's Heinz Billing prize for scientific computing in 1995. In the second half of the nineties Ralf implemented the Tangent linear and Adjoint Model Compiler (TAMC), a successor of AMC.

FastOpt has been working on both AD itself, as well as many application projects that use AD for optimisation, sensitivity and stability analysis, or inverse modeling. Michael Voßbeck, a mathematical physicist, strengthened the FastOpt team from 2002 to 2014. Simon Blessing, an atmospheric scientist, joined in autumn 2007. In July 2015 Ralf Quast, a physicist, joined the team.

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