Aumann, Robert J. 1930–

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Aumann, Robert J. 1930–

(Robert John Aumann)

PERSONAL: Born June 8, 1930, in Frankfurt am Main, Germany; emigrated to the United States, 1938, emigrated to Israel, 1956; son of Siegmund and Miriam (Landau) Aumann; married Esther Schlesinger, April 21, 1955 (deceased); children: Shlomo (deceased), Tamar, Yehonatan, Miriam, Noga Judith. Education: City College of New York, B.S., 1950; Massachusetts Institute of Technology, S.M., 1952, Ph.D., 1955. Religion: Jewish. Hobbies and other interests: Skiing, mountain climbing.

ADDRESSES: Office—Center for the Study of Rationality, The Hebrew University, 91904, Jerusalem, Israel.

CAREER: Mathematician, educator, and writer. Princeton University, Princeton, NJ, research assistant, 1954–56, research associate, 1960–61; Hebrew University, Jerusalem, Israel, instructor, 1956–58, lecturer, 1958–61, senior lecturer, 1961–64, associate professor, 1964–68, professor of mathematics, 1968–2001, professor emeritus, 2001–; Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Israel, part-time instructor in statistics, 1969–93; State University of New York, Stony Brook, part-time professor, 1986–89, 1991–2003. Visiting professor at Yale University, 1964–65, 1989, University of California at Berkeley, 1971, 1985–86, Catholic University of Louvain, 1972, 1978, 1984, Stanford University, 1975–76, 1980–81; New York University, 1997; and Northwestern University, 1999–2000. Institute for Advanced Studies, Hebrew University, Jerusalem, fellow, 1979–80; Institute for Mathematics and Its Applications, University of Minnesota, member, 1984; Mathematical Sciences Research Institute, Berkeley, CA, member, 1985–86; Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University, visiting scholar, 1989; Center for the Study of Rationality, Hebrew University, Jerusalem, member, 1991–. Consultant to E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co., RAND Corp, Everyman's University (Tel Aviv, Israel), and the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency. Military service: Israel Defense Forces, 1969–84.

MEMBER: Econometric Society (fellow; council member, 1977–82, member of executive committee, 1982–85), Game Theory Society (president, 1998–2003), National Academy of Sciences, Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities, American Academy of Arts and Sciences (foreign honorary member), American Economic Association (honorary member), Israel Mathematics Union (president, 1990–92), British Academy (corresponding fellow).

AWARDS, HONORS: Harvey Prize for science and technology, Haifa Institute of Technology, 1983; honorary degrees from the University of Bonn, 1988, Catholic University of Louvain, 1989, and the University of Chicago, 1992; Israel Prize in Economics, 1994; Lanchester Prize in Operations Research, 1995; Erwin Plein Nemmers Prize in Economics, Northwestern University, 1998; EMET Prize in Economics, Israel, 2002; Nobel Prize in Economics, 2005.


(With Lloyd S. Shapley) Values of Non-Atomic Games, RAND Corp. (Santa Monica, CA), 1968, Princeton University Press (Princeton, NJ), 1974.

(With Y. Tauman and S. Zamir) Game Theory (in Hebrew), Everyman's University (Tel Aviv, Israel), 1981.

Lectures on Game Theory, Westview Press (Boulder, CO), 1989.

(Editor, with Sergiu Hart) Handbook of Game Theory with Economic Applications, Elsevier Science (New York, NY), Volume 1, 1992, Volume 2, 1994.

(With Michael B. Maschler and Richard E. Stearns) Repeated Games with Incomplete Information, MIT Press (Cambridge, MA), 1995.

Collected Papers, MIT Press (Cambridge, MA), 2000.

Risk Aversion in the Talmud, Bar Ilan University (Ramat Gan, Israel), 2002.

Author of introduction to Advances in Game Theory, edited by M. Dresher, L.S. Shapley, and A.W. Tucker, Princeton University Press (Princeton, NJ), 1964; and Cooperation: Game Theoretic Approaches, edited by S. Hart and A. Mas-Colell, Springer (Berlin, Germany), 1997. Author of foreword to A General Theory of Equilibrium Selection in Games, by John C. Harsanyi and Reinhard Selten, MIT Press (Cambridge, MA), 1988; and Two-Sided Matching: A Study in Game-Theoretic Modeling and Analysis, by A.E. Roth and M.A. Sotomayor, Cambridge University Press (Cambridge, MA), 1990. Contributor to books, including Models of Gradual Reduction of Arms, Mathematica (Princeton, NJ), 1967; The Indirect Measurement of Utility, Mathematica (Princeton, NJ), 1968; and Essays in Game Theory and Mathematical Economics in Honor of Oskar Morgenstern, Bibliographisches Institut (Mannheim, Germany), 1981.

Articles have appeared in anthologies, including Contributions to the Theory of Games IV, Princeton University Press, 1959; Advances in Game Theory, Princeton University Press, 1964; Game Theory and Related Approaches to Social Behavior, Wiley, 1964; Human Judgments and Optimality, Wiley, 1964; Essays in Mathematical Economics in Honor of Oskar Morgenstern, Princeton University Press, 1967; Readings in Mathematical Economics, Johns Hopkins University Press, 1968; Frontiers of Economics, Blackwell, 1985; Issues in Contemporary Microeconomics and Welfare, Macmillan, 1985; The Shapley Value: Essays in Honor of Lloyd S. Shapley, Cambridge University Press, 1988; Contributions to Operations Research and Economics: The Twentieth Anniversary of CORE, MIT Press, 1989; New Palgrave Game Theory, Macmillan, 1989; Economic Decision Making: Games, Econometrics and Optimisation, Elsevier Science (Amsterdam, the Netherlands), 1990; Game Theory in Economics, Elgar, 1990; Game Theory and Applications, Academic Press, 1990; Underemployment Equilibria, Cambridge University Press, 1991;Economic Analysis of Markets and Games, MIT Press, 1992; Essays in Game Theory in Honor of Michael Maschler, Springer, 1994; Game-Theoretic Methods in General Equilibrium Analysis, Kluwer, 1994; The Rational Foundations of Economic Equilibrium, Macmillan, 1996; General Equilibrium Theory, Elgar, 1996; The Foundations of Game Theory, Elgar, 1997; Economic Games, Bargaining, and Solutions, Elgar, 1997; Cooperation: Game Theoretic Approaches, Springer, 1997; Classics in Game Theory, Princeton University Press, 1997; Frontiers in Research in Economic Theory, The Nancy L. Schwartz Memorial Lectures, 1983–1997, Cambridge University Press, 1998; Topics in Mathematical Economics and Game Theory, American Mathematical Society, 1999; Economic Essays: A Festschrift for Werner Hildenbrand, Springer, 2001; Landmark Papers in General Equilibrium Theory, Social Choice and Welfare, Elgar, 2001; The Legacy of Herbert Simon in Economic Analysis, Elgar, 2001; Handbook of Game Theory with Economic Applications, Elsevier, 2002; Networks and Groups: Models of Strategic Formation, Springer, 2003; and Assets, Beliefs, and Equilibria in Economic Dynamics (Essays in Honor of Mordecai Kurz, Springer, 2004. Contributor to scholarly periodicals, including Annals of Mathematics, Bulletin of the American Mathematical Society, Naval Research Logistics Quarterly, Econometrica, Journal of Mathematical Analysis and Applications, Journal of Economic Theory, Journal of Mathematical Economics, and Games and Economic Behavior.

Associate editor, Journal of Economic Theory, 1974–79, Econometrica, 1975–78, and the Journal of the European Mathematical Society, 2000–. Member of the editorial board, International Journal of Game Theory, 1971–, SIAM Journal on Applied Mathematics, 1976–80, and Games and Economic Behavior, 2000–; member of the advisory board, Journal of Mathematical Economics, 1974–, and Mathematics of Operations Research, 1979–; area editor for game theory, Mathematics of Operations Research, 1975–79, and member of advisory board 1979–.

SIDELIGHTS: Robert J. Aumann won the 2005 Nobel Prize in Economics with Thomas Schelling for their pioneering work on game theory. Game theory is a method for applying mathematics to understanding people's or groups' behavior in economic, political, social, and other situations where one's ability to achieve goals is dependent upon others' choices. Aumann is best known for his work in applying game theory to situations that go on indefinitely and showing how cooperation can emerge from conflict in such situations. As the Nobel committee explained in an online press release announcing the award, "In many real-world situations, cooperation may be easier to sustain in a long-term relationship than in a single encounter." Long-term relationships are also more realistic than single encounters: neighboring countries, for example, must continue to deal with each other after a single conflict is resolved, and companies generally hope to develop ongoing relationships with their consumers rather than to sell them a single product one time. However, when game theory first became a formal study, most of the focus was on single encounters, or at most a short, limited series of exchanges. The Nobel committee continued, "Robert Aumann was the first to conduct a full-fledged formal analysis of so-called infinitely repeated games. His research identified exactly what outcomes can be upheld over time in long-run relations."

The concepts that Aumann pioneered include the distinction between games that are repeated infinitely and those that are repeated finitely, coalition formation in games with nontransferable utility (in which the gains and risks from cooperation are not shared between the players), the bargaining set (potential points of agreement that provide a benefit to all players and hence have rational outcomes), and a mathematical definition of "common knowledge." He was also one of the first game theoreticians, beginning in the early 1970s, to examine large groups of actors, particularly those in market economies, as being part of a continuum rather than discrete actors.

Aumann was born into a German Jewish family that fled that country for the United States in 1938, only two weeks before the anti-Semitic Kristallnacht riots in Germany. In 1956, during a war between Israel and Egypt over the Sinai peninsula, Aumann moved to Israel. His subsequent experiences with Israeli politics and foreign policy have influenced his work. (His interest in Israel's foreign affairs is more than just professional; his son Shlomo was killed fighting with the Israeli army in Lebanon in 1982.) As he explained to Jerusalem Post contributor Hilary Leila Krieger, he thinks it is important for the Israelis and Palestinians to look at their relationship as part of an infinitely repeated game and to work on developing the patience and cooperation that come with this sort of outlook. "If you have a long-term future relationship, then you can cooperate today, but if you're thinking about today—if you're not thinking about the future—it's not going to work," he said. "Maybe in Israel we're trying too hard…. [P]eace next year is almost as good as peace this year."



America's Intelligence Wire, October 10, 2005, "Profile of Israeli Nobel Economics Prize Winner Robert J. Aumann."

Houston Chronicle, October 11, 2005, "Game Theorists Score Highest Honor: An American and Israeli Share Economics Award for Their Research into Interactions."

Jerusalem Post, November 1, 2005, Hilary Leila Krieger, "He's Got Game."


Ha'aretz Online, (October 22, 2005), Tamara Traubman, "Israeli Winner of Nobel Prize: Israel Is No. 1 in Game Theory."

Hebrew University of Jerusalem Web site, (December 20, 2005), "Curriculum Vitae, Robert J. Aumann."

History of Economic Thought Web site, (November 21, 2005), "Robert J. Aumann, 1930–."

IBM Research Web site, (October 22, 2005), "Biographies of External Advisory Board Members."

Nobel Prize Web site, (October 10, 2005), Maria Ullsten, "Press Release: The Bank of Sweden Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel," interview with Aumann.

Washington Post Online, (October 10, 2005), "Robert J. Aumann."