Hebrew University of Jerusalem
2002 Laureates of Emet Prize
In Category: Social Sciences
In Field: Economics
Nobel Laureate in economics for 2005
Prof. Yisrael Aumann was born in Frankfurt in 1930. In the summer of 1938, two months prior to Kristallnacht, his family managed to emigrate to New York. Despite the fact that his parents, while well-to-do in Germany, were forced to work hard for their living, their home in the United States was a shelter for escapees from Germany.
He studied mathematics and completed his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in New York, and his doctorate at MIT in Boston. After receiving his PhD he switched to applied science, and along with a group of young scientists in Princeton University began to deal with game theory, a branch of science that was then in its infancy.
In the midst of the Suez Campaign he immigrated to Israel and settled in Jerusalem. He was accepted to the staff of Hebrew University’s Institute of Mathematics, where he taught until his retirement. In his many studies, he dealt with different topics related to game theory and its applications. In his work he developed tools for precise analysis of economic systems where groups of participants exercise significant influence on the result, while the individual influence of each participant is very small. With the aid of these tools he gave precise meaning to the concept of “perfect competition,” which traces back to Adam Smith’s “invisible hand” concept. In other work, he found commonalities between the principles of game theory and solutions from Jewish tradition. More than any other researcher, he developed and established game theory, which became a central tool in economic theory.
Today he is a member of the Center for Rationality and Interactive Decision Theory, and is coordinating an interdisciplinary study dealing with game theory and its uses.