Charles F. Roos

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Charles F. Roos
Born(1901-05-18)May 18, 1901
DiedJanuary 6, 1958(1958-01-06) (aged 56)
Nationality American
Field Mathematical economics
Alma mater Rice University
Griffith C. Evans

Charles Frederick Roos (May 18, 1901 – January 6, 1958) was an American economist who made contributions to mathematical economics. [1] He was one of the founders of the Econometric Society together with American economist Irving Fisher and Norwegian economist Ragnar Frisch in 1930. He served as Secretary-Treasurer during the first year of the Society and was elected as President in 1948. [2] He was director of research of the Cowles Commission from September 1934 to January 1937. [3]

United States Federal republic in North America

The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States or America, is a country comprising 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions. At 3.8 million square miles, the United States is the world's third or fourth largest country by total area and is slightly smaller than the entire continent of Europe's 3.9 million square miles. With a population of over 327 million people, the U.S. is the third most populous country. The capital is Washington, D.C., and the largest city by population is New York City. Forty-eight states and the capital's federal district are contiguous in North America between Canada and Mexico. The State of Alaska is in the northwest corner of North America, bordered by Canada to the east and across the Bering Strait from Russia to the west. The State of Hawaii is an archipelago in the mid-Pacific Ocean. The U.S. territories are scattered about the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, stretching across nine official time zones. The extremely diverse geography, climate, and wildlife of the United States make it one of the world's 17 megadiverse countries.

Mathematical economics is the application of mathematical methods to represent theories and analyze problems in economics. By convention, these applied methods are beyond simple geometry, such as differential and integral calculus, difference and differential equations, matrix algebra, mathematical programming, and other computational methods. Proponents of this approach claim that it allows the formulation of theoretical relationships with rigor, generality, and simplicity.

The Econometric Society is an international society of academic economists interested in applying statistical tools to their field. It is an independent organization with no connections to societies of professional mathematicians or statisticians. It was founded on December 29, 1930, at the Stalton Hotel in Cleveland, Ohio. As of 2014, there are about 700 Elected Fellows of the Econometric Society, making it one of the most prevalent research affiliations.


Roos earned a PhD in mathematics from Rice University in 1926, under supervision of Griffith C. Evans. [1] He was amongst the first, together with Evans and mathematician Frank P. Ramsey, to use the calculus of variations in mathematical economics. [4] His direct involvement with two key institutions in economic history, both the Econometric Society and the Cowles Commission, place him in a pivotal position in the mathematization of economics in the first half of the 20th century. [1] His own work, however, would not be so influential. Mathematical economics and econometrics eventually favored technical and epistemological approaches that were different from his own. [5] [6] [7]

Rice University university in Houston, Texas, USA

William Marsh Rice University, commonly known as Rice University, is a private research university in Houston, Texas. The university is situated on a 300-acre campus near the Houston Museum District and is adjacent to the Texas Medical Center.

Griffith C. Evans American mathematician

Griffith Conrad Evans was a mathematician working for much of his career at the University of California, Berkeley. He is largely credited with elevating Berkeley's mathematics department to a top-tier research department, having recruited many notable mathematicians in the 1930s and 1940s.

Frank P. Ramsey British mathematician, philosopher

Frank Plumpton Ramsey was a British philosopher, mathematician and economist who made major contributions to all three fields before his death at the age of 26. He was a close friend of Ludwig Wittgenstein and was instrumental in translating Wittgenstein's Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus into English, as well as persuading Wittgenstein to return to philosophy and Cambridge. Like Wittgenstein, he was a member of the Cambridge Apostles, the intellectual secret society, from 1921.


Charles Frederick Roos was born in New Orleans, Louisiana on 18 May 1901. He studied mathematics at the Rice Institute, receiving his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1921, his Master of Arts degree in 1924, and, being awarded his PhD in 1926. His main interests were in the calculus of variations, integral equations, and the applications of these to economic theory. [8] His early research was deeply inspired by the work of his thesis advisor Griffith C. Evans who used these same mathematical tools to analyze business cycles, economic equilibrium, and economic competition. During the following years, from 1926 to 1928, Roos continued his academic studies as National Research Fellow at the University of Chicago and Princeton University.

New Orleans Largest city in Louisiana

New Orleans is a consolidated city-parish located along the Mississippi River in the southeastern region of the U.S. state of Louisiana. With an estimated population of 393,292 in 2017, it is the most populous city in Louisiana. A major port, New Orleans is considered an economic and commercial hub for the broader Gulf Coast region of the United States.

Mathematics Field of study concerning quantity, patterns and change

Mathematics includes the study of such topics as quantity, structure, space, and change.

A Bachelor of Arts is a bachelor's degree awarded for an undergraduate course or program in either the liberal arts, sciences, or both. Bachelor of Arts programs generally take three to four years depending on the country, institution, and specific specializations, majors, or minors. The word baccalaureus should not be confused with baccalaureatus, which refers to the one- to two-year postgraduate Bachelor of Arts with Honors degree in some countries.

At Princeton, Roos met the Norwegian economist Ragnar Frisch who was travelling there under a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation. They shared a common sentiment that economics should be brought closer to mathematics and to statistics (this would later become known as econometrics) and decided to request support from American economist Irving Fisher, at Yale University, to help organize an association to research such topics. Later that year, both Frisch and Roos met with Fisher to discuss the formation of what would become the Econometric Society. [2] In 1930 the Econometric Society was founded; Frisch was elected to be its first president, and Roos its secretary-treasurer. During this period, Roos had also been serving as secretary for the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) where he oversaw Section K of economics, sociology and statistics. This position also allowed him to bring together subjects of his interest such as the applications of statistics to the social sciences, and also to invite fellow members of the Econometric Society to lecture and present research on such topics. [9] [10]

Ragnar Frisch Norwegian economist

Ragnar Anton Kittil Frisch was a Norwegian economist and the co-recipient of the first Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences in 1969. He is known for being one of the founders of the discipline of econometrics, and for coining the widely used term pair macroeconomics/microeconomics in 1933.

Econometrics is the application of statistical methods to economic data in order to give empirical content to economic relationships. More precisely, it is "the quantitative analysis of actual economic phenomena based on the concurrent development of theory and observation, related by appropriate methods of inference". An introductory economics textbook describes econometrics as allowing economists "to sift through mountains of data to extract simple relationships". The first known use of the term "econometrics" was by Polish economist Paweł Ciompa in 1910. Jan Tinbergen is considered by many to be one of the founding fathers of econometrics. Ragnar Frisch is credited with coining the term in the sense in which it is used today.

Irving Fisher American economist

Irving Fisher was an American economist, statistician, inventor, and Progressive social campaigner. He was one of the earliest American neoclassical economists, though his later work on debt deflation has been embraced by the Post-Keynesian school. Joseph Schumpeter described him as "the greatest economist the United States has ever produced", an assessment later repeated by James Tobin and Milton Friedman.

Following his National Research Fellowship Roos was hired as assistant professor of mathematics at Cornell University. He resigned this position in 1931 to assume a position as permanent secretary at the AAAS where he arranged programs in economics. In the wake of the Great Depression Roos organized a symposium on unemployment; [8] the papers presented at this meeting were later published by the AAAS in a book entitled Stabilization of Employment. In 1933 Roos resigns from the AAAS to study mathematical economics in England under a Güggenheim fellowship. He quickly declines this fellowship, however, as he was called to be principal economist and director of research of the newly created National Recovery Administration (NRA). Roos' work during the short period he served as director of the NRA was later published by the Principia Press in 1937. Only a couple years later, in May 1935, the Supreme Court ruled that the NRA was unconstitutional and the organization was dissolved.

Cornell University private university in Ithaca (New York, US)

Cornell University is a private and statutory Ivy League research university in Ithaca, New York. Founded in 1865 by Ezra Cornell and Andrew Dickson White, the university was intended to teach and make contributions in all fields of knowledge—from the classics to the sciences, and from the theoretical to the applied. These ideals, unconventional for the time, are captured in Cornell's founding principle, a popular 1868 Ezra Cornell quotation: "I would found an institution where any person can find instruction in any study."

Great Depression 20th-century worldwide economic depression

The Great Depression was a severe worldwide economic depression that took place mostly during the 1930s, beginning in the United States. The timing of the Great Depression varied across nations; in most countries it started in 1929 and lasted until the late-1930s. It was the longest, deepest, and most widespread depression of the 20th century. In the 21st century, the Great Depression is commonly used as an example of how intensely the world's economy can decline.

National Recovery Administration

The National Recovery Administration (NRA) was a prime New Deal agency established by U.S. president Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR) in 1933. The goal was to eliminate "cut-throat competition" by bringing industry, labor, and government together to create codes of "fair practices" and set prices. The NRA was created by the National Industrial Recovery Act (NIRA) and allowed industries to get together and write "codes of fair competition." The codes were intended to reduce "destructive competition" and to help workers by setting minimum wages and maximum weekly hours, as well as minimum prices at which products could be sold. The NRA also had a two-year renewal charter and was set to expire in June 1935 if not renewed.

Already in 1934 Alfred Cowles approached Roos about a position to be professor of econometrics at Colorado College and director of research in the newly founded Cowles Commission for Economic Research based in Colorado Springs. Cowles was no stranger to Roos as the latter had previously reached out to him and Fisher with interests in researching forecasting methods. Following the stock market crash in 1929, Cowles realized his own forecasting techniques were mostly guesswork and endeavored to seriously research the subject. Through a common acquaintance, he met American mathematician Harold T. Davis, a professor at Indiana University who recommended that he look into the Econometric Society. Cowles contacted Frisch and Roos and decided to fully fund both the Econometric Society and its journal Econometrica . [2]

Alfred Cowles III was an American economist, businessman and founder of the Cowles Commission. He graduated from Yale in 1913, where he was a member of Skull and Bones.

Colorado College private liberal arts college in Colorado Springs, Colorado, United States

The Colorado College (CC) is a private liberal arts college in Colorado Springs, Colorado. It was founded in 1874 by Thomas Nelson Haskell in his daughter's memory. The college enrolls approximately 2,000 undergraduates at its 90-acre (36 ha) campus, 70 miles (110 km) south of Denver. The college offers 42 majors and 33 minors, and has a student-faculty ratio of 10:1. Famous alumni include James Heckman, Ken Salazar, Lynne Cheney, Thomas Hornsby Ferril, Marc Webb, and Steve Sabol. Colorado College had an acceptance rate of 15% for the Class of 2022, was ranked as the best private college in Colorado by Forbes, and was listed as tied for the 23rd-best National Liberal Arts College, and as the No. 1 Most Innovative Liberal Arts School, in the 2018 U.S. News & World Report rankings. In addition, Kiplinger's Personal Finance ranked Colorado College 16th in its 2018 rating of best value liberal arts colleges in the U.S.

The Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics is an economic research institute at Yale University. It was created as the Cowles Commission for Research in Economics at Colorado Springs in 1932 by businessman and economist Alfred Cowles. In 1939, the Cowles Commission moved to the University of Chicago under Theodore O. Yntema. Jacob Marschak directed it from 1943 until 1948, when Tjalling C. Koopmans assumed leadership. Increasing opposition to the Cowles Commission from the department of economics of the University of Chicago during the 1950s impelled Koopmans to persuade the Cowles family to move the commission to Yale University in 1955 where it became the Cowles Foundation.

Roos accepted Cowles' offer to come to Colorado. Besides being the Commission's director he also wrote the first Cowles Monograph entitled Dynamic Economics: Theoretical and Statistical Studies of Demand, Production and Prices [11] . This work was a summary of much his previous research and academic work in dynamic economics and explored many business applications such as in the demand for gasoline, agricultural products, and residential building. The Cowles Commission would later become an important institution in mathematical economics specially associated with Walrasian general-equilibrium theory and general-equilibrium models. Many nobel laureates in economics were associated with the Commission and/or wrote a Cowles Monograph. Some examples include Kenneth Arrow (social choice), Gerard Debreu (general equilibrium), Tjalling Koopmans (activity analysis, linear programming), Lawrence Klein (economic fluctuations), and Harry Markowitz (portfolio selection). The second Cowles Monograph was also written by Roos based on his work at the NRA.

Roos' business interests lead him to New York in 1937, where, a couple years later, he founded the Institute for Applied Econometrics (later renamed to Econometric Institute). The firm worked with big businesses such as General Motors and offered broad forecasting services. Roos' work with automobile industry resulted in the book The Dynamics of Automobile Demand, published in 1939. He would work as director of the Econometric Institute until his death on January 7, 1956. While the latter part of Roos' career saw a decline in his academic publications he still found ways to keep himself active and even published in a survey article in Econometrica in 1955. [12]

Mathematical economics

Charles Roos was one of the first to employ the calculus of variations to economic theory. [4] His work follows closely that of his PhD advisor Griffith Evans and is partly inspired by the works of Vilfredo Pareto, Léon Walras, and Cournot. His main interest was to develop a dynamic theory of economics and he most commonly framed his analysis as a profit maximization problem solved by a firm. Solving this by means of differential calculus determines the optimal amount of production in a given instant of time. Roos' approach, on the other hand, allowed one to determine the optimal amounts of production during an interval of time, allowing for prices to change during this period. His 1925 article A Mathematical Theory of Competition explores this situation under the hypothesis of monopoly and that of a large number of individual producers. In his later work he extends this to a general-equilibrium framework by considering how producers and consumers would converge to market equilibrium over a given interval of time. [5] Most of these contributions were summarized in the first Cowles Monograph Dynamic Economics: Theoretical and Statistical Studies of Demand, Production and Prices published in 1934. [11]

List of publications

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