Leonid Hurwicz

Leonid Hurwicz

Infobox Scientist
name = Leo Hurwicz

image_width =
birth_date = August 21, 1917
birth_place = Moscow, Russia
death_date = death date and age|2008|6|24|1917|8|21
death_place = Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA
nationality = United States
field = Economics
work_places = University of Minnesota
alma_mater = University of Warsaw London School of Economics
doctoral_advisor = Tjalling Koopmans Jacob Marschak (at the Cowles Commission)
doctoral_students = Daniel McFadden
known_for = Mechanism design
prizes = National Medal of Science (1990) Nobel memorial Prize (2007)

Leonid “Leo” Hurwicz (August 21, 1917 ndash June 24, 2008) was an American economist and mathematician. He originated incentive compatibility and mechanism design, which show how desired outcomes are achieved in economics, social science and political science. Interactions of individuals and institutions, markets and trade are analyzed and understood today using the models Hurwicz developed.cite news | author=Lohr, Steve | work=The New York Times | publisher=The New York Times Company | title=Three Share Nobel in Economics for Work on Social Mechanisms | url=http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/16/business/16nobel.html | date=2007-10-16 | accessdate=2007-10-19]

Hurwicz was Regents’ Professor of Economics (Emeritus) at the University of Minnesota. He was among the first economists to recognize the value of game theory and was a pioneer in its application. [cite web | author=Kuhn, Harold (introduction) | title=Sample Chapter for von Neumann, John & Morgenstern, Oskar. Theory of Games and Economic Behavior (Commemorative Edition) | url=http://press.princeton.edu/chapters/i7802.html | publisher=Princeton University Press | date=1944, 2004, 7 August 2007 | accessdate=2007-10-20] cite news | author=Higgins, Charlotte | title=Americans win Nobel for economics | url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/7045067.stm | date=15 October 2007 | work=BBC News | accessdate=2007-10-15] Hurwicz shared the 2007 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences with Eric Maskin and Roger Myerson for their work on mechanism design.cite news | author=Ohlin, Pia | title=US trio wins Nobel Economics Prize | url=http://uk.news.yahoo.com/afp/20071015/tts-nobel-economy-1edafd1_3.html | date=15 October 2007 | work=Agence France Presse | accessdate=2007-10-15]

Personal life

Hurwicz was born in Moscow, Russia to a Jewish family a few months before the October Revolution. The family was Polish and had lived in Congress Kingdom (the part of Poland then within the Russian Empire) but had been displaced by World War I. Soon after Leonid's birth, the family returned to Warsaw, Poland. Hurwicz and his family experienced persecution by both the Bolsheviks and Nazis, as he again became a refugee when Hitler invaded Poland in 1939. His parents and brother fled Warsaw, only to be arrested and sent to Soviet labor camps. Hurwicz, who had graduated from Warsaw University in 1938, at the time of German invasion on Poland was in London, moved to Switzerland then to Portugal and finally in 1940 he emigrated to the United States. His family eventually joined him there.

Hurwicz hired Evelyn Jensen (born October 31, 1921), who grew up on a Wisconsin farm and was, at the time, an undergraduate in economics at the University of Chicago, as his teaching assistant during the 1940s. They married in 1944cite web|title=Perspectives on Leo Hurwicz, A Celebration of 90 Years (timeline)|format=PDF|url=http://www.econ.umn.edu/hurwicz_timeline.pdf|date=14 April 2007|publisher=University of Minnesota (econ.umn.edu)|accessdate=2007-10-16] and later lived on the Mississippi River parkway in Minneapolis, Minnesota. They had four children: Sarah, Michael, Ruth and Maxim.cite journal|author=Clement, Douglas|title=Intelligent Designer|url=http://www.econ.umn.edu/magazine/MinnesotaEconomics1106.pdf|format=PDF|journal=Minnesota Economics|publisher=Department of Economics, University of Minnesota College of Liberal Arts|pages=6–9|date=Fall 2006|accessdate=2007-10-16]

His interests included linguistics, archaeology, biochemistry and music. His activities outside the field of economics included research in meteorology and membership in the NSF Commission on Weather Modification. When Eugene McCarthy ran for president of the United States, Hurwicz served in 1968 as a McCarthy delegate from Minnesota to the Democratic Party Convention and a member of the Democratic Party Platform Committee. He helped design the 'walking subcaucus' method of allocating delegates among competing groups, which is still used today by political parties. He remained an active Democrat; even attending Precinct Caucus in February 2008, at age 90.

He was hospitalized in mid-June 2008, suffering from renal failure. He died a week later in Minneapolis. [ [http://www.startribune.com/obituaries/21570704.html?location_refer=Homepage:highlightModules:1 Leonid Hurwicz, oldest Nobel winner, dies, Minneapolis Star Tribune, June 25, 2008] ] [ [http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/26/business/26hurwicz.html?_r=1&scp=1&sq=hurwicz&st=nyt&oref=slogin Leonid Hurwicz, oldest Nobel winner, dies at 90, New York Times, June 26, 2008] ]

Education and early academic career

Encouraged by his father to study law, in 1938 Hurwicz received his LL.M. degree from the University of Warsaw, where he discovered his future vocation in economics class. He then studied at the London School of Economics with Nicholas Kaldor and Friedrich Hayek. In 1939 he moved to Geneva where he studied at the Graduate Institute of International Studiescite web|title=Five-Year Report, 194246, XII. Biographical and Bibliographic Notes|url=http://cowles.econ.yale.edu/P/reports/1942-46b.htm|publisher=Cowles Foundation, Yale University|date=1942-1946|accessdate=2007-10-16] and attended the seminar of Ludwig von Mises. [cite web|author=Ransom, Greg|title=Hurwicz Took Part in the Mises Seminar|publisher=Mises.org Weblog, Ludwig von Mises Institute|url=http://blog.mises.org/archives/007307.asp|date=15 October 2007|accessdate=2007-10-16] After moving to the United States he continued his studies at Harvard University and the University of Chicago.cite news|author=Hughes, Art|title=Leonid Hurwicz — commanding intellect, humble soul, Nobel Prize winner|url=http://minnesota.publicradio.org/display/web/2007/10/15/nobelprofile/|publisher=Minnesota Public Radio|date=15 October 2007|accessdate=2007-10-15] Hurwicz had no degree in economics. In 2007 he said, "Whatever economics I learned I learned by listening and learning."cite news|author=Chiacu, Doina (Reuters)|title=Russian-born U.S. economist oldest-ever Nobel winner|url=http://www.reuters.com/article/companyNewsAndPR/idUSN1533359220071015|publisher=Reuters Group|date=15 October 2007|accessdate=2007-10-15]

In 1941 Hurwicz was a research assistant to Paul Samuelson at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and to Oskar Lange at the University of Chicago. At Illinois Institute of Technology during the war, Hurwicz taught electronics to the U.S. Army Signal Corps.cite web|title=Report for 1942|url=http://cowles.econ.yale.edu/P/reports/1942.htm|publisher=Cowles Foundation, Yale University |date=1942|accessdate=2007-10-16] From 1942 to 1944, at the University of Chicago, he was a member of the faculty of the Institute of Meteorology and taught statistics in the Department of Economics. About 1942 his advisors were Jacob Marschak and Tjalling Koopmans at the Cowles Commission for Research in Economics at the University of Chicago,cite book|title=An Empirically-Based Microeconomics (Raffaele Mattioli Lectures)|author=Simon, Herbert A.|pages=193|origyear=1997|date=28 September 1998|publisher=Cambridge University Press|isbn=0-5216-2412-6] now the Cowles Foundation at Yale University.

Teaching and research

Hurwicz received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1945–1946. In 1946 he became an associate professor of economics at Iowa State College. From January 1942 until June 1946, he was a research associate for the Cowles Commission. Joining full time in October 1950 until January 1951, he was a visiting professor, assuming Koopman's classes in the Department of Economics, and led the commission's research on theory of resource allocation. He was also a research professor of economics and mathematical statistics at the University of Illinois, a consultant to the RAND Corporation through the University of Chicago and a consultant to the U.S. Bureau of the Budget.cite web|title=Report for 1950–1951|url=http://cowles.econ.yale.edu/P/reports/1950-51a.htm|publisher=Cowles Foundation, Yale University |date=1951|accessdate=2007-10-16] Hurwicz continued to be a consultant to the Cowles Commission until about 1961. [cite web|title=Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics: Staff Lists, 1955-Present|url=http://cowles.econ.yale.edu/archive/people/directors/staff_yale.htm|publisher=Yale University|accessdate=2007-10-20]

Hurwicz was recruited by in 2001.

Back at Minnesota, Hurwicz became chairman of the Statistics Department in 1961, Regents Professor of Economics in 1969, and Curtis L. Carlson Regents Professor of Economics in 1989. He taught subjects ranging from theory to welfare economics, public economics, mechanisms and institutions and mathematical economics. Although he retired from full time teaching in 1988, Hurwicz taught graduate school as professor emeritus most recently in the fall of 2006.cite news|author=Horwath, Justin|title=U economics prof awarded Nobel Prize|url=http://www.mndaily.com/articles/2007/10/16/72163879|work=The Minnesota Daily|publisher= |date=16 October 2007|accessdate=2007-10-16] In 2007 his ongoing research was described by the University of Minnesota as "comparison and analysis of systems and techniques of economic organization, welfare economics, game-theoretic implementation of social choice goals, and modeling economic institutions." [cite press release|url=http://www1.umn.edu/umnnews/news_details.php?release=071015_3575&page=UMNN|title=University of Minnesota Professor Leonid Hurwicz wins Nobel Prize in economics|publisher=Regents of the University of Minnesota|accessdate=2007-10-15]

Hurwicz's interests included mathematical economics and modeling and the theory of the firm. His published works in these fields date back to 1944.cite web |title=Major Works of Leonid Hurwicz |work=The history of Economic Thought |publisher=cepa.newschool.edu |url=http://cepa.newschool.edu/het/profiles/hurwicz.htm |accessdate=2007-10-15 ] He is internationally renowned for his pioneering research on economic theory, particularly in the areas of mechanism and institutional design and mathematical economics. In the 1950s, he worked with Kenneth Arrow on non-linear programming; in 1972 Arrow became the youngest person to receive the Nobel Economics prize.cite web |title=Nobel Laureates |work=Frequently Asked Questions |publisher=Nobelprize.org |date=2007 |url=http://nobelprize.org/contact/faq/index.html#laureates |accessdate=2007-10-16 ] Hurwicz was the graduate advisor to Daniel McFadden, who received the prize in 2000.cite web |title=All Laureates in Economics | publisher = Nobelprize.org |date=2007 |url=http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/economics/laureates/index.html |accessdate=2007-10-16 ]

Earlier economists often avoided analytic modeling of economic institutions. Hurwicz's work was instrumental in showing how economic models can provide a framework for the analysis of systems, such as capitalism and socialism, and how the incentives in such systems affect members of society. citation |first=Roger B. |last=Myerson |title=Fundamental Theory of Institutions: A Lecture in Honor of Leo Hurwicz |url=http://home.uchicago.edu/~rmyerson/research/hurwicz.pdf |date=2007-02-28 |pages=2
format=pdf |publisher=University of Chicago |accessdate=2007-10-15
. Hurwicz Lecture originally presented at the North American meetings of the Econometric Society, at the University of Minnesota on 2006-06-22.] The theory of incentive compatibility that Hurwicz developed changed the way many economists thought about outcomes, explaining why centrally planned economies may fail and how incentives for individuals make a difference in decision making.cite news|author=Morrison, Deanne|title=University professor wins Nobel Prize|url=http://www1.umn.edu/umnnews/Feature_Stories/University_professor_wins_Nobel_Prize.html|publisher=UMN News, Regents of the University of Minnesota|date=15 October 2007|accessdate=2007-10-15]

Hurwicz served on the editorial board of several journals. He co-edited and contributed to two collections for Cambridge University Press: "Studies in Resource Allocation Processes" (1978, with Kenneth Arrow) and "Social Goals and Social Organization" (1987, with David Schmeidler and Hugo Sonnenschein). His most recent articles were published in the journals "Economic Theory" (2003, with Thomas Marschak), "Review of Economic Design" (2001, with Stanley Reiter) and "Advances in Mathematical Economics" (2003, with Marcel K. Richter). [cite book|author=Hurwicz, Leonid and Reiter, Stanley|title=Designing Economic Mechanisms|url=http://www.cambridge.org/catalogue/catalogue.asp?isbn=0521836417|date=22 May 2006|isbn=0-5218-3641-7|pages= [http://assets.cambridge.org/97805218/36418/frontmatter/9780521836418_frontmatter.pdf Frontmatter] (PDF) via Cambridge University Press|publisher=Cambridge University Press|accessdate=2007-10-16] Hurwicz presented the Fisher-Schultz (1963), Richard T. Ely (1972), David Kinley (1989) and Colin Clark (1997) lectures.Fact|date=October 2007

Awards and honors

Memberships and honorary degrees

Hurwicz was elected a fellow of the Econometric Society in 1947 and in 1969 was the society's president. Hurwicz was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1965. In 1974 he was inducted into the National Academy of Sciences and in 1977 was named a Distinguished Fellow of the American Economic Association. Hurwicz received the National Medal of Science in 1990 in Behavorial and Social Science, presented to him by President of the United States George H. W. Bush, "for his pioneering work on the theory of modern decentralized allocation mechanisms".

He served on the United Nations Economic Commission in 1948 and the United States National Research Council in 1954. In 1964 he was a member of the National Science Foundation Commission on Weather Modification. He was a member of the American Academy of Independent Scholars (1979) and a Distinguished Scholar of the California Institute of Technology (1984).

Hurwicz received six honorary doctorates, from Northwestern University (1980), the University of Chicago (1993), Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (1989), Keio University (1993), Warsaw School of Economics (1994) and Universität Bielefeld (2004). He was an honorary visiting professor of the Huazhong University of Science and Technology School of Economics (1984). [cite web|title=Academic Exchange with Foreign Institutions|url=http://eco.hust.edu.cn/English/06.html|publisher=Huazhong University of Science and Technology School of Economics|accessdate=2007-10-16]

Named for Hurwicz

First presented in 1950, the "Hurwicz criterion" is thought about to this day in the area of decision making called "under uncertainty."cite journal|author=Zappia, Carlo and Basili, Marcello|title=Shackle versus Savage: non-probabilistic alternatives to subjective probability theory in the 1950s|journal=QUADERNI|publisher=Università degli Studi di Siena, Dipartimento di Economia Politica|url=http://www.econ-pol.unisi.it/dipartimento/it/node/288|pages= |issue=452|date=May 2005|accessdate=2007-10-19] cite web|author=Jaffray, Jean-Yves and Jeleva, Meglena|title=Information Processing under Imprecise Risk with the Hurwicz criterion|publisher=International Symposium on Imprecise Probability: Theories and Applications (conference proceedings via sipta.org)|date=16-19 July 2007|url=http://www.sipta.org/isipta07/proceedings/papers/s045.pdf|format=PDF|accessdate=2007-10-19] cite book|author=Luce, R. Duncan and Raiffa, Howard|title=Games and Decisions: Introduction and Critical Survey|publisher=Dover Publications via Amazon Reader, Look Inside|pages=xvii +304-305 per Ellsberg p. 180|origyear=1957 ISBN 0-4715-5341-7|date=1989|isbn=0-4866-5943-7|accessdate=2007-10-19] Abraham Wald published decision functions that year. [cite book|author=Wald, Abraham|title=Statistical Decision Functions|publisher=John Wiley & Sons|date=1950] Hurwicz combined Wald's ideas with work done in 1812 by Pierre-Simon Laplace. [John Milnor credits Hurwicz with this idea. cite book|author=Straffin, Philip D.|title=Game Theory and Strategy (New Mathematical Library)|pages=58–59|publisher=The Mathematical Association of America via Amazon Reader Search Inside|date=5 September 1996|isbn=0-8838-5637-9|accessdate=2007-10-19] Hurwicz's criterion gives each decision a value which is "a weighted sum of its worst and best possible outcomes" represented as α and known as an index of pessimism or optimism. Variations have been proposed ever since and some corrections came very soon from Leonard Jimmie Savage in 1954. These four approachesndash Laplace, Wald, Hurwicz and Savagendash have been studied, corrected and applied for over fifty years by many different people including John Milnor, G. L. S. Shackle, Daniel Ellsberg, [cite book|author=Ellsberg, Daniel|title=Risk, Ambiguity And Decision (Studies in Philosophy)|location=New York, N.Y.|publisher=Garland Publishing via Amazon Reader, Search Inside|pages=xxii|date=2001|isbn=0-8153-4022-2|accessdate=2007-10-19] R. Duncan Luce and Howard Raiffa, in a field some date back to Jacob Bernoulli.cite book|author=Kramer, Edna Ernestine|title=The Nature and Growth of Modern Mathematics|url=http://books.google.com/books?id=LLEZQC74gVcC&pg=PA290|publisher=Princeton University Press via Google Books limited preview|date=1982|pages=290|isbn=0-6910-2372-7|accessdate=2007-10-19]

The "Leonid Hurwicz Distinguished Lecture" is given to the Minnesota Economic Association (as is the Heller lecture). John Ledyard (2007), Robert Lucas, Roger Myerson, Edward C. Prescott, James Quirk, Nancy Stokey and Neil Wallace are among those who have delivered the lecture since it was inaugurated in 1992.Fact|date=October 2007

Nobel Prize in Economics

In October 2007, Hurwicz shared the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences with Eric Maskin of the Institute for Advanced Study and Roger Myerson of the University of Chicago "for having laid the foundations of mechanism design theory." [cite press release|title=The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel 2007 |date=October 15, 2007 |url=http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/economics/laureates/2007/press.html |publisher=Nobel Foundation|accessdate=2007-10-25] During a telephone interview, a representative of the Nobel Foundation told Hurwicz and his wife that Hurwicz was the oldest person to win the Nobel Prize. Hurwicz said, "I hope that others who deserve it also got it." When asked which of all the applications of mechanism design he was most pleased to see he said welfare economics. [cite web|title=Leonid Hurwicz - Interviews|url=http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/economics/laureates/2007/hurwicz-interview.html|publisher=Nobel Foundation |date=October 15, 2007|accessdate=2007-10-25] The winners applied game theory, a field advanced by mathematician John Forbes Nash, to discover the best and most efficient means to reach a desired outcome, taking into account individuals' knowledge and self-interest, which may be hidden or private.cite news|author=Tong, Vinnie (Associated Press)|title=U.S. Trio Wins Nobel Economics Prize|url=http://www.forbes.com/feeds/ap/2007/10/15/ap4221523.html|work=Forbes.com|publisher=Forbes|date=15 October 2007|accessdate=2007-10-15] Mechanism design has been used to model negotiations and taxation, voting and elections, to design auctions such as those for communications bandwidth, elections and labor talks and for pricing stock options.cite news|author=Bergman, Jonas and Kennedy, Simon|title=Hurwicz, Maskin and Myerson Win Nobel Economics Prize|url=http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=newsarchive&sid=aGZTnlcWfQDY|date=15 October 2007|publisher=Bloomberg|accessdate=2007-10-15]

Unable to attend the Nobel Prize ceremony in Stockholm because of his age, [cite news|author= |date=19 October 2007|title=Russian-born Nobel Prize winner lives in nursing home|work=Russia Today|publisher=TV-Novosti|url=http://www.russiatoday.ru/features/news/15749|accessdate=2007-10-19] [cite news|author=Walsh, Paul |date=2007-12-10|title=U professor to receive his Nobel Prize today|work=Minneapolis Star-Tribune|url=http://www.startribune.com/local/12303571.html|accessdate=2007-12-10] Hurwicz received the prize in Minneapolis. Accompanied by Evelyn, his spouse of six decades, and his family, he was the guest of honor at a convocation held on the campus of the University of Minnesota presided over by university president Robert Bruininks. Immediately following a live broadcast of the Nobel Prize awards ceremony, Jonas Hafstrom, Swedish ambassador to the United States, personally awarded the Economics Prize to Professor Hurwicz. [cite news|author=Art Hughes|date=2007-12-10|title=Minnesota's newest Nobel Laureate receives his prize|url=http://minnesota.publicradio.org/display/web/2007/12/10/nobel_hurwicz/|publisher=Minnesota Public Radio|accessdate=2007-12-10]


* Hurwicz, Leonid (1945). "The Theory of Economic Behavior" "American Economic Review", 35(5), p [http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0002-8282%28194512%2935%3A5%3C909%3ATTOEB%3E2.0.CO%3B2-9&size=LARGE&origin=JSTOR-enlargePage p. 909–] 925. Exposition on game theory classic.
* Hurwicz, Leonid (1969). "On the Concept and Possibility of Informational Decentralization," "American Economic Review", 59(2), [http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0002-8282%28196905%2959%3A2%3C513%3AOTCAPO%3E2.0.CO%3B2-F&size=LARGE&origin=JSTOR-enlargePage p. 513–] 524.
* Hurwicz, Leonid (1973). The design of mechanisms for resource allocation, Amer. Econ. Rev., 63, p [http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0002-8282%28197305%2963%3A2%3C1%3ATDOMFR%3E2.0.CO%3B2-4&size=LARGE&origin=JSTOR-enlargePage p. 1–] 30.
* Hurwicz, Leonid (1995). "What is the Coase Theorem?," "Japan and the World Economy", 7(1), pp. 49–74. [http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=ArticleURL&_udi=B6VF1-40079CP-15&_user=10&_coverDate=05%2F31%2F1995&_rdoc=1&_fmt=&_orig=search&_sort=d&view=c&_acct=C000050221&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&_userid=10&md5=8d4f34047a35627489f69b0366726fa5 Abstract.]
*cite book | author=Hurwicz, Leonid | coauthors=Stanley Reiter | title=Designing Economic Mechanisms | publisher=University Press | location=Cambridge | isbn=0521836417


External links

* [http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/economics/laureates/2007/hurwicz-lecture.html Hurwicz Nobel Prize lecture]
*cite web | title=Perspectives on Leo Hurwicz (conference program and photos) | url=http://www.econ.umn.edu/hurwicz/ | date=14 April 2007 | publisher=University of Minnesota (econ.umn.edu) | accessdate=2007-10-16
*cite journal | author=Clement, Douglas | title=Intelligent Designer (cover story) | url=http://www.econ.umn.edu/magazine/MinnesotaEconomics1106.pdf | format=PDF | journal=Minnesota Economics | publisher=Department of Economics, University of Minnesota College of Liberal Arts | pages=6–9 | date=Fall 2006 | accessdate=2007-10-16
*cite news | title=Intelligent design | work=The Economist | url=http://www.economist.com/finance/displaystory.cfm?story_id=9988840 | publisher=The Economist Group | date=18 October 2007 | accessdate=2007-10-18
*cite news | author=Cho, Adrian | title=The Economics Nobel: Giving Adam Smith a Helping Hand | date=15 October 2007 | work=ScienceNOW Daily News | publisher=American Association for the Advancement of Science | url=http://sciencenow.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/2007/1015/1 | accessdate=2007-10-19
*cite web | author=Fonseca, Gonçalo L. (author and maintainer) | title=Major Works of Leonid Hurwicz, in Leonid Hurwicz, 1917- | publisher=History of Economic Thought Website, The New School | url=http://cepa.newschool.edu/het/profiles/hurwicz.htm | accessdate=2007-10-16
* [http://ideas.repec.org/e/phu171.html IDEAS/RePEc]
*cite web | last=Tabarrok | first=Alex | authorlink= | coauthors= | title=What is Mechanism Design? Explaining the research that won the 2007 Nobel Prize in Economics. | work=Reasononline news | publisher=Reason Magazine | date=2007-10-16 | url=http://www.reason.com/news/show/122998.html | format= | doi= | accessdate=2007-12-11

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