Prof. Emeritus Robert J. Aumann of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem was named as the co-winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics for 2005.The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences announced that Aumann and Prof. Thomas C. Schelling of the University of Maryland will share this year’s prize “for having enhanced our understanding of conflict and cooperation through game-theory analysis.”
Aumann is an internationally known researcher in the area of game theory. In its award statement, the Swedish Academy stated that “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.”
Aumann emphasized that the prize in game theory is not only an honor for him, but also all for all of those who have had such an important role in developing the field. “This is a prize for the world game theory community,” he said.
Hebrew University President Prof. Menachem Magidor said that “Prof. Aumann has deserved this prize for many years.”
He said the announcement of the prize “has brought pride and happiness to the university, to the State of Israel and to all of Israeli academia.” Magidor, also a mathematician, noted that he was a former student and colleague of Aumann.
Aumann was born in Frankfort, Germany, in 1930 and came to America in 1938 with his parents and brother. He received his Bachelor of Science degree from City College, New York, in 1950, and a PhD. From Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1955, followed by post-doctoral work at Princeton University in New Jersey.
He immigrated to Israel in 1956, becoming an instructor at the Hebrew University, rising to the rank of full professor in 1968 and professor emeritus in 2000. He has served as a visiting professor at Princeton, Yale and Stanford universities, the University of California at Berkeley, and New York University, Stony Brook. He is the author nearly 100 scientific papers and six books. He has won the Israel Prize and many other honors. He is the father of five and the grandfather of 18.
Aumann is a professor emeritus in the Institute of Mathematics at the Hebrew University and a member of the university’s interdisciplinary Center for Rationality and Interactive Decision Theory. He previously occupied the S.A. Schonbrunn Chair of Mathematical Economics.
Aumann join other notable Israelis who have won Nobel Prizes including Prof. Daniel Kahneman, who won in Economics in 2002 and Profs. Avram Hershko and Prof. Aaron Ciechanover of the Technion, winners of the Prize in chemistry.
Aumann’s receipt of the Nobel Prize will hopefully serve as a boost for science in Israel and lead to the allocation of additional resources to the field, said Prof. Menahem Yaari, president of the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities.
“He is one of the greatest mathematicians and economists of this generation,” Yaari said.
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon called Aumann on Monday to say “he was very excited to hear he had won, and Israel and its citizens were very proud,” a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office said.
Sharon was also glad Aumann had “found common denominators between game theory principles and those of Israeli tradition.”
According to Science Minister Matan Vilnai, “[Aumann's] win proves that the State of Israel continues to stand at the forefront of science, and we, as a country, must continue to preserve this status. Investment in scientific infrastructures is the basis for the development of research from which the next scientific revelations will come.”
President Moshe Katsav also congratulated Aumann on the award, commenting that he had brought much pride to the citizens of the country, and has contributed much to Israel’s lofty status in the international scientific community, the president said.
Aumann suggested science could give insight into a conflict that has ebbed and erupted since the early 20th century.
“I do hope that perhaps some game theory can be used and be part of this solution,” Aumann said to Nobel officials in Stockholm. “I think game theory creates ideas that are important in solving and approaching conflict in general.”