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Home >> Business and Economics >> Prof. Israel Aumann

Prof. Robert J. (Israel) Aumann

Robert Aumann was born in 1930 in Frankfurt am Main, Germany, to a well-to-do orthodox Jewish family.  Fleeing Nazi persecution, the family immigrated to the United States in 1938, settling in New York.  In the process, his parents lost everything, but nevertheless gave their two children an excellent Jewish and general education.  Aumann attended Yeshiva elementary and high schools, earned a bachelor's degree from the City College of New York in 1950, and a PhD in Mathematics from MIT in 1955.

He joined the mathematics department at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in 1956, and has been there ever since.  In 1990, he was among the founders of the Center for Rationality at the Hebrew University, an interdisciplinary research center focusing on Game Theory, with members from over a dozen different departments, including Business, Economics, Psychology, Computer Science, Law, Mathematics, Ecology, Philosophy, and others. 
Aumann is the author of ninety research papers and six books, and has held visiting positions at Princeton, Yale, Berkeley, Louvain, Stanford, Stony Brook, and NYU.  He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the National Academy of Sciences (USA), the British Academy, and the Israel Academy of Sciences; holds honorary doctorates from the Universities of Chicago, Bonn, Louvain, City University of New York, and Bar Ilan University; and has received numerous prizes, including the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences for 2005.

Aumann is married and has five children (the oldest was killed in Lebanon in 1982), twenty-one grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren.  When not working, he likes to hike, ski, cook, and study the Talmud.

Lecture Topics

 War and Peace - This is Professor Aumann's lecture on receiving the Nobel Prize in December 2005. It discusses the application of Game Theory to understanding the fundamental causes of war and creating conditions for peace.

 Game Engineering - A discussion of highly practical applications of game theory, in areas where the "rules of the game" are sharply defined, such as auctions, traffic management, elections, arbitration, job matching, and asset division.

 Understanding Strategic Interaction -  A discussion of game theory insights into amorphous but vital areas such as bargaining, strikes, credibility, and negotiations.

 The Role of Incentives in the World Financial Crisis - An analysis of the causes of the world financial crisis, possible remedies, and the outlook for the future.

 Modern Economic Theory in the Talmud - This lecture illustrates how Talmudic scholars applied economic theory to issues such as evaluating risky assets, price control, moral hazard, and competition.

 Game Theory in the Talmud - (Man with Three Wives, Kesuvos 93a). This lectures uses principles of game theory to suggest an explanation for a Mishnaic ruling that has puzzled scholars for centuries.

 The Personality of God - A discussion of the third principle of Maimonides in the light of Talmudic and Midrashic sources.

 The Message of the Cherubim - The role of the commandments  governing the relationship between man and man.

 War and Peace in the Middle East - A game-theoretical analysis of Israel's policies and prospects. 

 The Nobel Experience - Events surrounding the award of the Nobel Prize (including halachic issues  such as Shabbat, Kashrut, and Shatnez). This lecture is accompanied by a short film.


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