- Anatol Rapoport
Anatol Rapoport ( _ru. Анато́лий Бори́сович Рапопо́рт, born
May 22 1911- January 20 2007) was a Russian-born American Jewish mathematical psychologist. He contributed to general systems theory, mathematical biologyand to the mathematical modeling of social interaction and stochasticmodels of contagion.
Rapoport was born in Lozоvaya,
Russia. In 1922, he came to the United States, and in 1928 he became a naturalized citizen. He started studying music in Chicagoand continued with piano, conductingand composition at the Vienna Hochschule für Musikwhere he studied from 1929 to 1934. However, due to the rise of Nazism, he found it impossible to make a career as a pianist. [ Alisa Ferguson, "Rapoport was Renowned Mathematical Psychologist, Peace Activist, "University of Toronto Bulletin", February 20, 2007]
He shifted his career into
mathematics, getting a Ph.D. degree in mathematics under Nicholas Rashevsky at the University of Chicagoin 1941. According to the "Toronto Globe and Mail", he was a member of the American Communist Partyfor three years, but quit before enlisting in the U.S. Army Air Corps in 1941, serving in Alaskaand Indiaduring World War II. [Ron Csillag,"Anatol Rapoport, Academic 1911-2007." Toronto Globe and Mail, January 31, 2007, p. S7]
After the war, he joined the Committee on Mathematical Biology at the University of Chicago (1947-1954), where he published his first book, "Science and the Goals of Man". He also received a one-year- fellowship at the prestigious
Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences( Stanford, California).
From 1955 to 1970 Rapoport was Professor of Mathematical Biology and Senior Research Mathematician at the
University of Michigan, as well as founding member, in 1955, of the Mental Health Research Institute (MHRI) at the University of Michigan. In 1970 Rapoport moved to Torontoto avoid the war-making ways of the Vietnam-era United States. He was appointed professor of mathematics and psychology at the University of Toronto, 1970-1979. He lived in bucolic Wychwood Parkoverlooking downtown Toronto, a neighbour of Marshall McLuhan. On his retirement from the University of Toronto, he became director of the Institute of Advanced Studies (Vienna)until 1983.
In 1954, Anatol Rapoport cofounded the
Society for General Systems Research, along with the researchers Ludwig von Bertalanffy, Ralph Gerard, and Kenneth Boulding. He was awarded president of the Society for General Systems Researchin 1965.
Anatol Rapoport died of pneumonia in Toronto. He is survived by his wife Gwen, daughter Anya, and sons Alexander and Anthony.
Rapoport contributed to
general systems theory, mathematical biologyand to the mathematical modeling of social interaction and stochasticmodels of contagion. He combined his mathematical expertise with psychological insights into the study of game theory, social networksand semantics.
Rapoport extended these understandings into studies of
psychological conflict, dealing with nuclear disarmament and international politics. His autobiography, "Certainties and Doubts: A Philosophy of Life", was published in 2001.
Rapoport had a versatile mind, working in
mathematics, psychology, biology, game theory, social networkanalysis, and peace and conflict studies. For example, he pioneered in the modeling of parasitism and symbiosis, researching cybernetic theory. This went on to give a conceptual basis for his lifelong work in conflict and cooperation.
Among many other well-known books on fights, games, violence and peace, Rapoport was the author of over 300 articles and of Two-Person Game Theory (1999) and N-Person Game Theory (2001). He analyzed contests in which there are more than two sets of conflicting interests, such as war, diplomacy, poker or bargaining. His work led him to peace research (see below), including books on "The Origins of Violence' (1989) and 'Peace, An Idea Whose Time Has Come" (1993), both written at the
University of Toronto.
He won a computer tournament in the 1980s, based on
Robert Axelrod's "The Evolution of Cooperation". This sought to understand how cooperation could emerge through evolution. Rapoport's entry, "Tit-For-Tat" has only four lines of code. The program opens by cooperating with its opponent. It then plays exactly as the other side had played in the previous game. If the other side had defected, the program also defects; but only for one game. If the other side cooperates, the program continues to cooperate. According to "Peace Magazine" author/editor Metta Spencer, the program "punished the other player for selfish behaviour and rewarded her for cooperative behaviour -- but the punishment lasted only as long as the selfish behaviour lasted. This proved to be an exceptionally effective sanction, quickly showing the other side the advantages of cooperating. It also set moral philosophers to proposing this as a workable principle to use in real life interactions."
His children report that he was a strong chess player but a bad poker player because he non-verbally revealed the strength of his hands. [Ron Csillag,"Anatol Rapoport, Academic 1911-2007." Toronto Globe and Mail, January 31, 2007, p. S7]
ocial network analysis
Anatol Rapoport was an early developer of
social networkanalysis. His original work was that you could measure large networks by profiling traces of flows through them. This enables learning about the speed of the distribution of resources, including information, and what speeds or impedes these flows -- such as race, gender, socioeconomic status, proximityand kinship. [Harrison White, "Identity and Control", 2nd ed., Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2007] This work linked social networks to the diffusion of innovation, and by extension, to epidemiology. Rapoport's empirical work traced the spread of information within a school. It prefigured the study of Six Degreesof connectivity, by showing the rapid spread of information in a population to almost all -- but not all -- school members (see references below).
Conflict and peace studies
According to the
Thomas Homer-Dixonin the "Toronto Globe and Mail", Rapoport "became anti-militarist quite soon after the war. [WWII] . The idea of military values became anathema." He was a leading organizer of the first teach-insagainst the Vietnam Warat the University of Michigan, a model that spread rapidly throughout North America. He told a teach-in: "By undertaking the war against Vietnam, the United States has undertaken a war against humanity.... This war we shall not win." ("Ann Arbor News", April 1967). He said he was an abolitionist, rather than a total pacifist: "I'm for killing the institution of war".
Rapoport returned to the
University of Torontoto become the founding (and unpaid) Professor of Peaceand Conflict Studies programme, working with George Ignatieffand Canada's Science for Peaceorganization. As its sole professor at the start, he used a rigorous, interdisciplinary approach to the study of peace, integrating mathematics, politics, psychology, philosophy, science and sociology. His main concern was to legitimize peace studies as a worthy academic pursuit. The Trudeau Centre for Peace and Conflict Studiescontinues to flourish at the University of Toronto, under the leadership of Thomas Homer-Dixon. When Rapoport began, there was one (unpaid) professor and twelve students. Now, there are three (paid) professors and ninety students. [Alisa Ferguson, "Rapoport was Renowned Mathematical Psychologist, Peace Activist," "University of Toronto Bulletin", February 20, 2007]
Rapoport's students report that he was an engaged and inspiring professor who captured their attention, imagination and interest with his wide-ranging knowledge, passion for the subject, good humor, kind and generous spirit, attentiveness to student concerns and animated teaching style. [Chesmak Farhoumand-Sims, "Memories of Anatol Rapoport," "Peace Magazine", April 2007, p. 14]
In 1981, Rapoport co-founded the international NGO "
Science for Peace", and in 1984 he created the famous tit for tatstrategy for the iterated prisoner's dilemmatournament held by Robert Axelrodthat year. He was recognized in the 1980s for his contribution to world peace through nuclear conflict restraint via his game theoretic models of psychological conflict resolution. He won the Lenz International Peace Research Prizein 1976.
Rapoport has written several books and articles. Books:
* 1975, "Semantics", Crowell, 1975. [This book about general semantics along the lines of
S.I. Hayakawa's "Language in Thought and Action" and more technical (mathematical and philosophical) material. A valuable survey.]
* 2000, "Certainties and Doubts : A Philosophy of Life", Black Rose Books, Montreal, 2000: His autobiography.
Articles, a selection:
* 1953, "Spread of information through a population with sociostructural bias: I. Assumption of transitivity." in: "Bulletin of Mathematical Biophysics", 15, 523-533.
* 1956, with
Ralph W. Gerardand Clyde Kluckhohn, "Biological and cultural evolution: Some analogies and explorations". "Behavioral Science" 1: 6-34.
* 1957, "Contribution to the Theory of Random and Biased Nets." in: "Bulletin of Mathematical Biology" 19:257-77.
* 1960 with W.J. Horvath, "The theoretical channel capacity of a single neuron as determined by various coding systems", in: "Information and Control", 3(4):335-350.
* 1963, "Mathematical models of social interaction". In R. D. Luce, R. R. Bush, & E. Galanter (Eds.), "Handbook of Mathematical Psychology" (Vol. II, pp. 493-579). New York, NY: John Wiley and Sons.
* 1966, "Two-person game theory: the essential ideas". Ann Arbor, University of Michigan Press.
* 1974, with
Lawrence B. Slobodkin, "An optimal strategy of evolution". "Q. Rev. Biol". 49:181-200
* 1979, "Some Problems Relating to Randomly Constructed Biased Networks." "Perspectives on Social Network Research":119-164.
* 1989, with Y. Yuan, "Some Aspects of Epidemics and Social Nets." Pp. 327-348 in "The Small World", ed. by Manfred Kochen. Norwood, NJ: Ablex.
* Ron Csillag,"Anatol Rapoport, Academic 1911-2007." "Toronto Globe and Mail", January 31, 2007, p. S7
* Chesmak Farhoumand-Sims, "Memories of Anatol Rapoport." "Peace Magazine", April 2007, p. 14
* Alisa Ferguson, "Rapoport was Renowned Mathematical Psychologist, Peace Activist." "University of Toronto Bulletin", February 20, 2007.
* [http://scienceforpeace.sa.utoronto.ca/ Science for Peace website]
* [http://www.peacemagazine.org/archive/v03n5p27.htm History of Science for Peace]
* [http://www.isss.org/lumrapo.htm Profile of Anatol Rapoport]
* [http://www.peacemagazine.org "Memories of Anatol Rapoport"] , Cheshmak Farhoumand-Sims, "Peace Magazine", April 2007
last = Farhoumand-Sims
first = Cheshmak
date = April 2007
title = Memories of Anatol Rapoport
pages = p14
url = http://archive.peacemagazine.org/v23n2p14.htm
accessdate = 2008-05-03
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