John Harsanyi


John Harsanyi

Infobox Scientist
name = John C. Harsanyi



image_size = 180px
birth_date = May 29, 1920
birth_place = Budapest, Hungary
death_date = August 9, 2000
death_place = Berkeley, California, USA
nationality = Hungary
field = Economics
work_institution = University of California, Berkeley Wayne State University Australian National University
alma_mater = Stanford University University of Budapest
doctoral_advisor = Kenneth Arrow
doctoral_students =
known_for = Bayesian games Utilitarian ethics Equilibrium selection
prizes = Nobel Prize in Economics (1994)
religion =
footnotes =

John Charles Harsanyi ( _hu. Harsányi János Károly) (born May 29, 1920 in Budapest, Hungary; died August 9, 2000 in Berkeley, California, United States) was a Hungarian-Australian-American economist and Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences winner.

He is best known for his contributions to the study of game theory and its application to economics, specifically for his developing the highly innovative analysis of games of incomplete information, so-called Bayesian games. He also made important contributions to the use of game theory and economic reasoning in political and moral philosophy (specifically utilitarian ethics [ [http://emlab.berkeley.edu/facdir/harsanyi.html Economics Faculty Directory ] ] )as well as contributing to the study of equilibrium selection. For his work, he was a co-recipient along with John Nash and Reinhard Selten of the 1994 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics.

Biography

John C. Harsanyi was born in Budapest, Hungary on May 29, 1920. He attended high school at the Lutheran Gymnasium in Budapest. During high school, became one of the best problem solvers of the KöMaL, the Mathematical and Physical Monthly for Secondary Schools. Founded in 1893, this periodical is generally credited with a large share of Hungarian students' success in mathematics., he also won the first prize in the Eötvös mathematics competition [http://www.versenyvizsga.hu/eng/index.html Eötvös] for high school students. [http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/economics/laureates/1994/harsanyi-autobio.html John C. Harsanyi, "Autobiography"] , in "Les Prix Nobel. The Nobel Prizes 1994", Editor Tore Frängsmyr, [Nobel Foundation] , Stockholm, 1995] Although he wanted to study mathematics and philosophy, his father, who was the owner of a pharmacy, sent him to France in 1939 to enroll in chemical engineering at the University of Lyons. However, because of the start of World War II, Harsanyi returned to Hungary to study pharmacology at the University of Budapest (today: Eötvös Loránd University), earning a diploma in 1944.John A. Weymark (2006), "John Charles Harsanyi", working paper no. 06-W07, Vanderbilt University] As a pharmacology student, Harsanyi escaped conscription into the Hungarian Army which, as a person of Jewish descent, would have meant forced labor. However, in 1944 (after the fall of the Horthy regime and the seizure of power by the Arrow Cross Party) his military deferment was cancelled and he was compelled to join a forced labor unit on the Eastern Front. [http://www.haas.berkeley.edu/news/harsanyi.html "Nobel Laureate John C. Harsanyi, UC Berkeley economist and game theory pioneer, dies at 80"] , "HAAS News", UC at Berkeley] After seven months of forced labor, when the Nazi authorities decided to deport his unit to a concentration camp in Austria, John Harsanyi managed to escape and found sanctuary for the rest of the war in a Jesuit monastery. [ [http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/biography/harsanyi.html "John Harsanyi (1920-2000)" by Ariel Scheib] , Jewish Virtual Library"]

Post-War

After the end of the war, Harsanyi returned to the University of Budapest for graduate studies in philosophy, earning his Ph.D. in 1947. Being a devout Catholic at the time, he simultaneously studied theology, also joining lay ranks of the Dominican Order. He later lost his faith after that, becoming an atheist for the rest of his life. Harsanyi spent the academic year 1947-1948 on the faculty of the Institute of Sociology of the University of Budapest, where he met Anne Klauber, his future wife. He was forced to resign the faculty because of openly expressing his anti-Marxist opinions, while Anne faced increasing peer pressure to leave him for the same reason. Harsanyi remained in Hungry for the following two years attempting to sell his family's pharmacy without losing it to the authorities. After it became apparent that the communist party would confiscate the pharmacy in 1950, he fled with Anne and her parents by illegally crossing the border with Austria, then going to Australia where Klauber's parents had some friends.Breit, William and Barry T. Hirsch. Lives of the Laureates, 4th ed. Cambridge, Mass: The MIT Press, 2004.]

Australia

The two did not marry until they arrived in Australia because Klauber's immigration papers would need to be changed to reflect her married name. The two arrived with her parents on December 30th 1950 and they looked to marry immediately. Harsanyi and Kaluber were married on January 2nd, 1951. Neither spoke English much English and understood little of what they were told to say to each other. Harsanyi later explained to his new wife that she had promised to cook better food than she usually did.

Harsanyi's Hungarian degrees were not recognized in Australia, but they did earn him credit at the University of Sydney for a Master's degree. Harsanyi worked in a factory during the day and studied economics in the evening at the University of Sydney, finishing with a M.A. in 1953. While studying in Sydney, he started publishing research papers in economic journals, including the "Journal of Political Economy" and the "Review of Economic Studies". The degree allowed him to take a teaching position in 1954 at the University of Queensland in Brisbane. While at Brisbane, Harsanyi's wife became a frock designer for a small factory.

Later years

In 1956, Harsanyi received a Rockefeller scholarship that enabled him and Anne to spend the next two years in the United States, at Stanford University and, for a semester, at the Cowles Foundation. At Stanford Harsanyi wrote a dissertation in game theory under the supervision of Kenneth Arrow, earning a second PhD in economics in 1959, while Anne earned an MA in psychology. Harsanyi's student visa expired in 1958 and the two returned to Australia.

After working for a short time as a researcher at the Australian National University in Canberra, Harsanyi became frustrated with the lack of interest in game theory in Australia. With the help of Kenneth Arrow and James Tobin, he was able to move to the United States, taking a position as professor of economics at the Wayne State University in Detroit between 1961-1963. In 1964, he moved to Berkeley, California, he remained at the University of California, Berkeley until retiring in 1990. Shortly after arriving to Berkeley, he and Anne had a child, Tom. While teaching at Berkeley, John Harsanyi did extensive research in game theory. From 1966 to 1968, Harsanyi was part of a team of game theorists tasked with advising the United States Arms Control and Disarmament Agency in collaboration with Mathematica, a consulting group from Princeton University led by Harold Kuhn and Oskar Morgenstern.

John Harsanyi died in 2000 from heart attack in Berkeley, California, after suffering for a time from Alzheimer's disease.

Publications

Harsanyi's began researching on utilitarian ethics while at Brisbane. He published two papers explaining that before understanding moral problems, the difference between people's personal preferences and their moral preferences must be distinguished.

After Nash's publications on game theory, Hasanyi became increasingly interested in the topic.
* "Cardinal Utility in Welfare Economics and in the Theory of Risk-Taking", Journal of Political Economy (1953)
* "Cardinal Welfare, Individualistic Ethics and Interpersonal Comparisons of Utility", Journal of Political Economy(1955)
* "Bargaining in Ignorance of the Opponent's Utility Function", Journal of Conflict Resolution (1962)
* "Games with Incomplete Information Played by "Bayesian" Players, I-III. Part I. The Basic Model", Management Science, Vol. 14, No. 3, Theory Series (1967)
* Essays on Ethics, Social Behavior, and Scientific Explanation, Dordrecht, Holland: Reidel Publishing Company (1976)
* Rational Behavior and Bargaining Equilibrium in Games and Social Situations, Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press (1977)
* Papers in Game Theory, Dordrecht, Holland: Reidel Publishing Company (1982)
* A General Theory of Equilibrium Selection in Games (with Reinhard Selten), Cambridge, MA: MIT-Press. (1988)

References

External links

* [http://www.nobel.se/economics/laureates/1994/harsanyi-autobio.html Dr. Harsanyi's autobiography from the Nobel website]
* [http://ideas.repec.org/e/pha48.html IDEAS/RePEc]
* [http://www.haas.berkeley.edu/news/harsanyi.html News article remembering Dr. Harsanyi's life and career]
* [http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4158/is_20000919/ai_n14341665 Obituary in The Independent (London)]


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