(posted by Rakesh Vohra, 21 February 2017)
Kenneth Joseph Arrow, a member of the Society’s advisory board since its foundation, passed away February 21, 2017. If a scholar’s contributions are to be judged by the amount of work he or she created for others, then Arrow was a full employment act.
Born in 1921, he was part of a remarkable cohort of descendants of Eastern European emigres who settled in New York, made their way through the City College of New York, eventually to sweep the boards of every glittering prize. At least nine nobel laureates trod the same path, among them Robert J. Aumann.
Arrow’s is a name familiar in our mouths as any household word. No education in Game Theory or Economics is complete without a study of the eponymous impossibility theorem and his formulation and existence proof (with Debreu) of general equilibrium. For any one person this might suffice as an epitaph, but not for Arrow. There are his contributions with Samuel Karlin and Herbert Scarf to inventory theory. He was a pioneer in the economics of information, healthcare and discrimination. His influence continues through his students like Eric Maskin and Roger Myerson. Macaulay’s descriptions of the Jesuits, reproduced below, would be as accurate if each appearance of the word `Jesuit’ was replaced by `Arrow’ and `they’ by `him’:
There was no region of the globe, no walk of speculative or of active life, in which Jesuits were not to be found. They guided the counsels of Kings. They deciphered Latin inscriptions. They observed the motions of Jupiter’s satellites. They published whole libraries…
(posted by Christos H. Papadimitriou, 22 February 2017)
Kenneth Arrow, a giant of economic thought – and of rational, analytical thought more generally – left us yesterday, 95 years old. He was a brilliant, gentle man, an old colleague and friend, and the spark and inspiration of my interest in economics. We will remember him for his incisive theorems, but also for his beautiful talk on the history of the quest for approximating equilibria that graced our program and opened our boot camp at the Simons Institute for the Theory of Computing.
Obituary of Kenneth Arrow in the New York Times, 21 February 2017.
Obituary of Kenneth Arrow in the Washington Post, 21 February 2017.