Newsletter of the Game Theory Society 2010


New Officers' election results

(mailed to GTS members by Federico Valenciano on 17 November 2010)

Dear Members of the Game Theory Society,

According to the Bylaws of our Society, elections for the Officers of the Society have to be held every two years. The Officers (the President, the Past President, the Executive Vice-President, the Vice-President for Communications, and the Secretary/Treasurer) are responsible for the ongoing operations of the Society. New officers are elected by the members of the Council, upon a proposal drawn up by the Steering Committee, using the system of approval voting.

The elections took place last month, and we would like to inform you of the outcome.

The candidates proposed were:

In the election 27 Council members (out of 36) voted, and all candidates received unanimous support, hence, were elected. The newly elected officers will take up their positions on November 1, 2010.

We thank all the people who contributed their effort towards this election, and wish the new officers all the best in fulfilling their duties.


GAMES 2012 Congress in Istanbul

(mailed to GTS members by Sergiu Hart and Federico Valenciano on Monday, 8 March 2010)

Dear Game Theory Society members,

In the past months we have dealt with the issue of the location of the Game Theory Society's 2012 World Congress. We have received several good proposals, and following a number of consultations and discussions it has been decided that the Congress will take place in Istanbul, Turkey. The tentative dates are July 22 - 26, 2012, and the chair of the local organizing committee is Prof. Remzi Sanver from Bilgi University in Istanbul.

I want to take this opportunity and thank everyone who has been involved in the preparation of the proposals for their efforts.

We expect a great conference, and are looking forward to seeing you all in Istanbul in 2012.

Best,

Sergiu Hart


President, GTS


David H. Blackwell (1919 - 2010)

(posted by Bernhard von Stengel on 6 August 2010)

The Game Theory Society reports with sadness that its charter member David Blackwell passed away on July 8, 2010 at the age of 91.

David Blackwell was an outstanding statistician and mathematician, who contributed fundamental insights in many areas. In game theory, he provided a number of important results. One of them is a central tool known as the "Blackwell approachability theorem" (An analog of the minimax theorem for vector payoffs, Pacific J. Math. 6 (1956), 1-8.) See Eran Shmaya's blog entry on the significance of this and other results for game theory.

The following biographical sketch is adapted from http://www.maa.org/summa/archive/blackwl.htm:

David Blackwell lived in Berkeley, California. He joined the faculty at University of California at Berkeley in 1954 after having spent ten years at Howard University, in Washington, DC, one year at Stanford, one year at Clark College, now Clark-Atlanta University, one year at Southern University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana and one year at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, New Jersey.

Born in April 1919 in Centralia, Illinois, Blackwell spent ten years there attending public schools. At the age of sixteen he entered the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana in 1935 where he received his AB degree in 1938, his AM in 1939 and his Ph.D. in 1941; all in mathematics. At the age of 22 he had earned a Ph.D. in mathematics and had been awarded a Rosenwald Fellowship to attend the Institute for Advanced Study. This was the beginning of his more than fifty professional years as a world-class mathematician.

While at Howard University, Blackwell distinguished himself as an excellent teacher, an able leader (department chair, 1947-1954) and a very productive scholar, publishing more than twenty papers during his tenure there. When he joined the faculty at Berkeley, these characteristics became even more manifest. At Berkeley, and worldwide, he was recognized as a distinguished scholar and a gifted teacher. He chaired the Department of Statistics (1957-1961) and he published an additional 50 plus papers (a total of 80 papers prior to retirement).

His professional activities as a scholar brought him widespread recognition and acclaim. He has received honorary Doctorate of Science degrees from twelve institutions. Two of the highest honors bestowed upon him have been his election to the National Academy of Science (first and only African-American Mathematician elected) and his election to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

In an interview Blackwell was asked the question: "Of the areas in which you have worked, which do you think are the most significant?" He replied, "I've worked in so many areas; I'm sort of a dilettante. Basically, I'm not interested in doing research and I never have been ... I'm interested in understanding, which is quite a different thing." And the annals of history record that he has understood much.

From the UC Berkeley press release:

"He had this great talent for making things appear simple. He liked elegance and simplicity. That is the ultimate best thing in mathematics, if you have an insight that something seemingly complicated is really simple, but simple after the fact," said Blackwell's colleague Peter Bickel, a UC Berkeley professor of statistics who has known him since 1960. "Blackwell was a wonderful man and, given the trials and tribulations of his life, a very optimistic person."

According to Bickel, Blackwell was known for his independent invention of dynamic programming, which is used today in finance and in various areas of science, including genome analysis. He also is known for the renewal theorem, used today in areas of engineering, and for independently developing the Rao-Blackwell Theorem, a fundamental concept in modern statistics.

"He went from one area to another, and he'd write a fundamental paper in each," said Thomas Ferguson, professor emeritus of statistics at UCLA and coauthor with James MacQueen of a 1996 collection of papers in Blackwell's honor. "He would come into a field that had been well-studied and find something really new that was remarkable; that was his forte."

In an interview published on youtube (one of many interview snippets worth browsing) on his election to the Academy of Sciences he attributed his election to a comment by a supporter that "after Blackwell's work, you wondered what all the fuss was about. That is, I had taken something that was complicated and showed what was really going on in a very simple way ... what I did really did clarify things; I wouldn't say it was a big thing, but it was an interesting thing.". [The precise work in question is unfortunately not mentioned in the interview.]

David Blackwell's curiosity and clarity of mathematical insight will remain an example for us all.


William F. Lucas (1933 - 2010)

We are sad to report that Bill Lucas of Claremont Graduate University passed away on June 7, 2010 after a short illness. Bill Lucas was Editor of the International Journal of Game Theory from 1978 to 1984 and a charter member of the Game Theory Society.

Bill Lucas worked in Applied Mathematics and Operations Research and was an expert on cooperative games. In that area, he is best known for his construction of a cooperative game that has no von-Neumann Morgenstern solution, answering in the negative a question that had been open for over two decades since the publication of von Neumann and Morgenstern's book in 1944. (A Game with No Solution, Bulletin of the AMS, Vol. 74, No. 2, Mar. 1968, pp. 237-239; The Proof That a Game May Not Have a Solution, Transactions of the AMS, Vol. 137, Mar. 1969, pp. 219-229.)

Bill Lucas received his Ph.D. in 1963 from the University of Michigan under the supervision of Robert Thrall. He was professor at Cornell (1969-1984) and at Claremont Graduate University (since 1984), and according to the Mathematics Genealogy Project had 21 Ph.D. students in total, including game theorists Pradeep Dubey, Ehud Kalai, Shigeo Muto, Robert Weber, and others. The following is a detailed CV until 1993.

Bill Lucas was known to his friends and students as a kind and generous man and will be greatly missed.

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