Robert John Aumann
8 June 1930
|Nationality||Israel, United States|
|Alma mater|| City College of New York (B.Sc.)|
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.Sc., Ph.D.)
|Awards|| Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics |
John von Neumann Theory Prize
Harvey Prize in Science and Technology
Israel Prize for Economical Research
|Fields|| mathematical economics |
|Doctoral advisor||George Whitehead, Jr.|
|Doctoral students|| Bezalel Peleg |
Robert John Aumann (Hebrew name: ישראל אומן, Yisrael Aumann; born June 8, 1930) is an Israeli-American mathematician, and a member of the United States National Academy of Sciences. He is a professor at the Center for the Study of Rationality in the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in Israel. He also holds a visiting position at Stony Brook University, and is one of the founding members of the Stony Brook Center for Game Theory.
Aumann received the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences in 2005 for his work on conflict and cooperation through game-theory analysis. He shared the prize with Thomas Schelling.
Aumann was born in Frankfurt am Main, Germany, and fled to the United States with his family in 1938, two weeks before the Kristallnacht pogrom. He attended the Rabbi Jacob Joseph School, a yeshiva high school in New York City.
Aumann graduated from the City College of New York in 1950 with a B.Sc. in Mathematics. He received his M.Sc. in 1952, and his Ph.D. in Mathematics in 1955, both from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His doctoral dissertation, Asphericity of Alternating Linkages, concerned knot theory. His advisor was George Whitehead, Jr.
In 1956 he joined the Mathematics faculty of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and has been a visiting professor at Stony Brook University since 1989. He has held visiting professorship at the University of California, Berkeley (1971, 1985–1986), Stanford University (1975–1976, 1980–1981), and Universite Catholique de Louvain (1972, 1978, 1984).
Aumann's greatest contribution was in the realm of repeated games, which are situations in which players encounter the same situation over and over again.
Aumann was the first to define the concept of correlated equilibrium in game theory, which is a type of equilibrium in non-cooperative games that is more flexible than the classical Nash equilibrium. Furthermore, Aumann has introduced the first purely formal account of the notion of common knowledge in game theory. He collaborated with Lloyd Shapley on the Aumann–Shapley value. He is also known for his agreement theorem, in which he argues that under his given conditions, two Bayesian rationalists with common prior beliefs cannot agree to disagree.
Aumann and Maschler used game theory to analyze Talmudic dilemmas.They were able to solve the mystery about the "division problem", a long-standing dilemma of explaining the Talmudic rationale in dividing the heritage of a late husband to his three wives depending on the worth of the heritage compared to its original worth. The article in that matter was dedicated to a son of Aumann, Shlomo, who was killed during the 1982 Lebanon War, while serving as a tank gunner in the Israel Defense Forces's armored corps.
Aumann's Ph.D. students include: Bezalel Peleg, David Schmeidler, Shmuel Zamir, Elon Kohlberg, Zvi Artstein, Benyamin Shitovitz, Eugene Wesley, Sergiu Hart, Abraham Neyman, Yair Tauman, Dov Samet, Ehud Lehrer, Yossi Feinberg, Itai Arieli, Uri Weiss and Yosef Zohar.
Aumann has entered the controversy of Bible codes research. In his position as both a religious Jew and a man of science, the codes research holds special interest to him. He has partially vouched for the validity of the "Great Rabbis Experiment" by Doron Witztum, Eliyahu Rips, and Yoav Rosenberg, which was published in Statistical Science. Aumann not only arranged for Rips to give a lecture on Torah codes in the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities, but sponsored the Witztum-Rips-Rosenberg paper for publication in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The Academy requires a member to sponsor any publication in its Proceedings; the paper was turned down however.
In 1996, a committee consisting of Robert J. Aumann, Dror Bar-Natan, Hillel Furstenberg, Isaak Lapides, and Rips, was formed to examine the results that had been reported by H.J. Gans regarding the existence of "encoded" text in the bible foretelling events that took place many years after the Bible was written. The committee performed two additional tests in the spirit of the Gans experiments. Both tests failed to confirm the existence of the putative code.
After a long analysis of the experiment and the dynamics of the controversy, stating for example that "almost everybody included [in the controversy] made up their mind early in the game" Aumann concluded:
"A priori, the thesis of the Codes research seems wildly improbable... Research conducted under my own supervision failed to confirm the existence of the codes – though it also did not establish their non-existence. So I must return to my a priori estimate, that the Codes phenomenon is improbable".
These are some of the themes of Aumann's Nobel lecture, named "War and Peace":
Aumann is a member in the Professors for a Strong Israel (PSI), a right-wing political group. Aumann opposed the disengagement from Gaza in 2005 claiming it is a crime against Gush Katif settlers and a serious threat to the security of Israel. Aumann draws on a case in game theory called the Blackmailer Paradox to argue that giving land to the Arabs is strategically foolish based on the mathematical theory.By presenting an unyielding demand, the Arab states force Israel to "yield to blackmail due to the perception that it will leave the negotiating room with nothing if it is inflexible".
As a result of his political views, and his use of his research to justify them, the decision to give him the Nobel prize was criticized in the European press. A petition to cancel his prize garnered signatures from 1,000 academics worldwide.
In a speech to a religious Zionist youth movement, Bnei Akiva, Aumann claimed that Israel is in "deep trouble". He revealed his belief that the anti-Zionist Satmar Jews might have been right in their condemnation of the original Zionist movement. "I fear the Satmars were right", he said, and quoted a verse from Psalm 127: "Unless the Lord builds a house, its builders toil on it in vain." Aumann feels that the historical Zionist establishment failed to transmit its message to its successors, because it was secular. The only way that Zionism can survive, according to Aumann, is if it has a religious basis.
In 2008, Aumann joined the new political party Ahi led by Effi Eitam and Yitzhak Levy.
Aumann married Esther Schlesinger in April 1955 in Brooklyn. They had met in 1953, when Esther, who was from Israel, was visiting the United States. The couple had five children; the oldest, Shlomo, a student in Yeshivat Shaalvim, was killed in action while serving in the Israel Defense Forces in the 1982 Lebanon War. Machon Shlomo Aumann, an institute affiliated with Shaalvim that republishes old manuscripts of Jewish legal texts, was named after him. Esther died of ovarian cancer in October 1998. In late November 2005, Aumann married Esther's widowed sister, Batya Cohn.
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem is Israel's second-oldest university, established in 1918, 30 years before the establishment of the State of Israel. It opened officially in April 1925. The Hebrew University has three campuses in Jerusalem and one in Rehovot. The world's largest Jewish studies library, the National Library of Israel, is located on its Edmond J. Safra Givat Ram campus.
The Bible code, also known as the Torah code, is a purported set of encoded words hidden within the Hebrew text of the Torah, that according to its proponents, have seemingly predicted significant historical events. The statistical likelihood of the Bible code arising by chance has been thoroughly researched, and it is now widely considered to be statistically insignificant, as similar phenomena can be observed in any sufficiently lengthy text. Although Bible codes have been postulated and studied for centuries, the subject has been popularized in modern times by Michael Drosnin's book The Bible Code and the movie The Omega Code.
Eliyahu Rips is an Israeli mathematician of Latvian origin known for his research in geometric group theory. He became known to the general public following his coauthoring a paper on what is popularly known as Bible code, the supposed coded messaging in the Hebrew text of the Torah.
Lloyd Stowell Shapley was an American mathematician and Nobel Prize-winning economist. He contributed to the fields of mathematical economics and especially game theory. Shapley is generally considered one of the most important contributors to the development of game theory since the work of von Neumann and Morgenstern. With Alvin E. Roth, Shapley won the 2012 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences "for the theory of stable allocations and the practice of market design."
David Gale was an American mathematician and economist. He was a professor emeritus at the University of California, Berkeley, affiliated with the departments of mathematics, economics, and industrial engineering and operations research. He has contributed to the fields of mathematical economics, game theory, and convex analysis.
Ariel Rubinstein is an Israeli economist who works in economic theory, game theory and bounded rationality.
Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities, based in Jerusalem, was established in 1961 by the State of Israel to foster contact between Israeli scholars in the sciences and humanities and create a think tank for advising the government on research projects of national importance. Its members include many of Israel's most distinguished scholars.
Shlomo Avineri is an Israeli political scientist. He is Professor of Political Science at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and member of the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities. He also serves as Recurring Visiting Professor at the Central European University in Budapest and Fellow of a Munich-based academic think tank offering advice to politicians.
Joshua Prawer was a notable Israeli historian and a scholar of the Crusades and Kingdom of Jerusalem.
Eric Stark Maskin is an American economist and 2007 Nobel laureate recognized with Leonid Hurwicz and Roger Myerson "for having laid the foundations of mechanism design theory". He is currently Adams University Professor and Professor of Economics and Mathematics at Harvard University.
Yair Tauman is a Professor of Economics at State University of New York, Stony Brook and the Director of the Stony Brook Center for Game Theory. He studied at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem where he obtained his B.Sc. in Mathematics and Statistics and M.Sc. and Ph.D. in Mathematics, the latter two under the supervision of Robert Aumann. His areas of research interests are game theory and industrial organization. He has published, among others, in Econometrica, Games and Economic Behavior, Journal of Economic Theory, Quarterly Journal of Economics and RAND Journal of Economics.
Shlomo Weber is an economics professor and ex-Rector, New Economic School in Moscow, Russia; Academic Director of the Center for Study of Diversity and Social Interactions at NES; Robert H. and Nancy Dedman Trustee Professor of Economics Department of Economics, Southern Methodist University.
Sergiu Hart is an Israeli mathematician and economist, the Chairperson of the Humanities Division of the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities, and the past President of the Game Theory Society (2008–2010). He is the Kusiel-Vorreuter University Professor, professor (emeritus) of mathematics, and professor (emeritus) of economics, at the Center for the Study of Rationality at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in Israel.
Michael Bahir Maschler was an Israeli mathematician well known for his contributions to the field of game theory. He was a professor in the Einstein Institute of Mathematics and the Center for the Study of Rationality at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in Israel. In 2012, the Israeli Chapter of the Game Theory Society founded the Maschler Prize, an annual prize awarded to an outstanding research student in game theory and related topics in Israel.
Ehud Kalai is a prominent Israeli American game theorist and mathematical economist known for his contributions to the field of game theory and its interface with economics, social choice, computer science and operations research. He was the James J. O’Connor Distinguished Professor of Decision and Game Sciences at Northwestern University, 1975-2017, and currently is a Professor Emeritus of Managerial Economics and Decision Sciences.
David Schmeidler is an Israeli mathematician and economic theorist. He is a Professor Emeritus at Tel Aviv University and the Ohio State University.
Abraham Neyman is an Israeli mathematician and game theorist, Professor of Mathematics at the Federmann Center for the Study of Rationality and the Einstein Institute of Mathematics at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in Israel. He served as president of the Israeli Chapter of the Game Theory Society (2014–2018).
The Einstein Institute of Mathematics is a centre for scientific research in mathematics at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, founded in 1925 with the opening of the University. A leading research institute, the institute's faculty has included recipients of the Nobel Prize, Fields Medal, Wolf Prize, and Israel Prize.
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Finn E. Kydland
Edward C. Prescott
| Laureate of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics |
Served alongside: Thomas C. Schelling
Edmund S. Phelps