Herbert Scarf 101: The Respected Mathematical Economist
Zatrun Published at March 13, 2024

Herbert Scarf was an American mathematician and economist who lived from 1930 to 2015. He served as a Sterling Professor Emeritus of Economics at Yale University. He was renowned for his pioneering work in mathematical economics, especially in equilibrium theory and financial analysis.

Scarf received many awards throughout his career and earned a respected position in the world of economics. He passed away on November 15, 2015 due to heart failure, leaving a deep mark on the field of economics and inspiring many debates on his ideas. If you want to learn more about him, you can check out the subheadings in this article.

Who is Herbert Scarf?

Herbert Scarf was born in Philadelphia to a Jewish family who had emigrated from Ukraine and Russia. He impressed his teachers at South Philadelphia High School with his talent in mathematics and won a scholarship to Temple University. In 1950, he ranked in the top 10 in the Putnam Mathematics Competition and was admitted to the mathematics department of Princeton University. There he completed his PhD under the supervision of Salomon Bochner, one of the famous mathematicians of the 20th century.

Scarf chose not to pursue an academic career after his PhD and instead started working at Rand Corporation, an organisation that was established during the Cold War to apply mathematical thinking to economic, political, and strategic problems.

Scarf met George Dantzig, the inventor of the simplex algorithm, Nobel Prize-winning economist Kenneth Arrow and statistician Samuel Karlin at Rand Corporation. Karlin encouraged Scarf to work on stock theory and fixed point computation, which became classics in their fields.

His Academic Life and Legacy

Herbert Scarf began his full academic career in 1957 when he joined the Department of Economics at Stanford University. He moved to Yale University in 1963, where he remained as a Sterling Professor until 1995. There, he conducted pioneering research on the applications of fixed point theorems in economics. He made significant contributions to the computation of general equilibrium and the analysis of the core concept in cooperative games.

With his collaborator Terje Hansen, he advanced the computation of economic equilibrium and received the Frederick W. Lanchester Prize for this work in 1973. Herbert Scarf also won the John von Neumann Theory Prize in 1983. He was a member of many prestigious institutions, such as the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the National Academy of Sciences, and the American Philosophical Society. He died of heart failure in 2015.

In conclusion, Herbert Scarf was a brilliant scientist who played a major role in the development of mathematical economics. His work was valuable both theoretically and practically. He authored articles and books that helped to understand the mathematical methods in economics. He was also remembered as a warm friend, a dedicated teacher, and a loyal colleague.

Follow the developments in the crypto world. What would you like us to inform you about?