The OPNEX project exemplifies system and optimization theory as the foundations for algorithms that provably maximize capacity of wireless networks. The algorithms termed in abstract network models have been converted to protocols and architectures practically applicable to wireless systems. A validation methodology through experimental protocol evaluation in real network testbeds has been proposed and used. OPNEX uses recent advances in system theoretic network control, including the Back-Pressure principle, max-weight scheduling, utility optimization, congestion control, and the primal-dual method for extracting network algorithms. These approaches exhibited vast potential for achieving high capacity and full exploitation of resources in abstract network models and found their way to reality in high performance architectures developed as a result of the research conducted within OPNEX.