An Interview with Robert Aumann

Authors: 
Sergiu Hart
Abstract: 

Who is Robert Aumann? Is he an economist or a mathematician? A rational scientist or a deeply religious man? A deep thinker or an easygoing person? These seemingly disparate qualities can all be found in Aumann; all are essential facets of his personality. A pure mathematician who is a renowned economist, he has been a central figure in developing game theory and establishing its key role in modern economics. He has shaped the field through his fundamental and pioneering work, work that is conceptually profound, and much of it mathematically deep. He has greatly influenced and inspired many people: his students, collaborators, colleagues, and anyone who has been excited by reading his papers or listening to his talks. Aumann promotes a unified view of rational behavior, in many different disciplines: chiefly economics, but also political science, biology, computer science, and more. To mention just a few of the areas of Aumann's groundbreaking work: perfect competition, repeated games, correlated equilibrium, interactive knowledge and rationality, and coalitions and cooperation. But Aumann is not just a theoretical scholar, closed in his ivory tower. He is interested in real-life phenomena and issues, to which he applies insights from his research. He is a devoutly religious man; and he is one of the founding fathers-and a central and most active member-of the multidisciplinary Center for the Study of Rationality at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Aumann enjoys skiing, mountain climbing, and cooking-no less than working out a complex economic question or proving a deep theorem. He is a family man, a very warm and gracious person-of an extremely subtle and sharp mind. This interview catches a few glimpses of Robert Aumann's fascinating world. It was held in Jerusalem on three consecutive days in September of 2004. I hope the reader will learn from it and enjoy it as much as we two did.

Date: 
February, 2005
Published in: 
Macroeconomic Dynamics 9 (2005), 683-740. Also in Inside the Economist's Mind: The History of Modern Economic Thought, as Explained by Those Who Produced It, William A. Barnett and Paul Samuelson (eds.), Blackwell Publishing
Number: 
386