Saturday, July 9, 2016

Howard Raiffa (1924-2016)

Multiple emails this morning tell that Howard Raiffa passed away peacefully last night. He was an early game theorist, a hero of decision theory, and an institution builder (as well as an institution) at Harvard and elsewhere. (He was also the advisor of my advisor, Bob Wilson.) A gentle man and an intellectual giant.

Here is a picture of Howard and Estelle I took at dinner in Cambridge in 2012. They were high school sweethearts, throughout their long life together.

Estelle and Howard Raiffa in 2012


July 11: here's the email announcement from HBS
"To:  HBS Community
From:  Nitin Nohria
Re:  Sad news -- Howard Raiffa

I am very sorry to let you know that Howard Raiffa died peacefully at his home in Arizona on Friday July 8 following a long battle with Parkinson's.  He was 92 years old.  He is survived by his wife, Estelle, and his two children, Mark and Judy.

Howard, the Frank Plumpton Ramsey Professor of Managerial Economics, came to Harvard Business School in 1957 through the generosity of the Ford Foundation as one of a small cadre of discipline-based scholars.  He was interested in the resolution of conflict through mediation and arbitration, and several times during his career he either invented an entirely new field or changed an existing field so fundamentally that he earned recognition as its reinventor -- from decision analysis to game theory to negotiation analysis.  He authored and co-authored seminal works such as Applied Statistical Decision Theory and Decisions With Multiple Objectives.  An epitome of One Harvard before the phrase was coined, he interests spanned boundaries, and he is credited as a founder of the modern Kennedy School (where he held a joint appointment beginning in 1969) and had close ties as well with the Law School and School of Public Health.  He also served as the founding director of the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis in Austria.

Here at HBS, he was gentle and demanding mentor to many, and a friend and colleague to many more.  While he officially retired from the faculty in 1994 he remained on as an advisor for some time after.

While we do not yet know of plans for a memorial service, we will be sure to communicate any information as it is learned, as well as a full obituary once it is finalized.

Our thoughts and sympathies are with his family and other loved ones."

Here's the Kennedy School obituary: Harvard Kennedy School Remembers Howard Raiffa, July 11, 2016, By Doug Gavel

Here's the IIASA obituary (Howard was IIASA's founding director):  Howard Raiffa 1924-2016

July 12: Here's the INFORMS obituary
Howard Raiffa January 24, 1924 – July 8, 2016

July 13: here's the NYT obit
Howard Raiffa, Mathematician Who Studied Decision Making, Dies at 92
"Howard Raiffa was born in the Bronx on Jan. 24, 1924, the son of Jacob Raiffa, who sold wool products, and the former Hilda Kaplan. He graduated from Evander Childs High School, where he was captain of the basketball team. Math was his best subject, but he dreamed of being a basketball player or coach.

He was attending City College when he enlisted in the Army Air Corps, where he was a radar specialist. He earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics in 1946, a master’s in statistics and a doctorate in mathematics, all from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

In 1945, he married Estelle Schwartz. She and his daughter survive him, as do a son, Mark, and four grandchildren."

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