Friday, October 13, 2017

Pictures from the celebration of Ken Arrow

The Celebration of Ken Arrow at Stanford was awesome, and unique.  Mostly we honor elder statesmen by a conference on their subject matter, and speakers talk about their own work and perhaps how it relates to the honoree. That isn't what happened last Monday, instead, distinguished panels spoke about Arrow's many seminal contributions in social choice, general equilibrium, health economics, finance and much more. There were also many short talks by individuals (see the program at the link above for a partial list), and I think it's fair to say that Ken was beloved in the profession and in his personal circles.

One memorable quote from Bob Solow (from memory). He told the story of a project he and Ken had worked on in the early days of the Rand Corporation, a project that had failed. He said something like this: "So you see, even Ken couldn't turn a failed project into a success. He was an economist just like you and me. Only smarter. Much smarter. Much much smarter."

Update: now that I've had a chance to hear the video (you can see many videos of the celebration here), I can quote Solow correctly (from the closing sentences of his keynote): "Kenneth was not a superman, he could not with some brilliant insight out of his head make a success out of a failed project, that wasn't Kenneth at all. What he was was an economist just like you and me, only he was smarter. He was much smarter. He was very much smarter." 

The photos below are ones that I took with my iPhone, you can find professional ones, by Steve Castillo, here.)

Finance. William Sharpe.Hersh Sheffrin.Hugo SonnenscheinDarrell Duffie.Marcus Brunnermeier
GE.John Geanakoplos. Andreu Mas-Colell. Robert Lucas. Herakles Polemarchakis. Chris Shannon

Joe Stiglitz.Partha Dasgupta.Debra Satz.Richard Cottle.Matt Jackson

Social choice. Roger Myerson.Eric Maskin.Kotaro Suzumura.Amartya Sen.Salvador Barbera

Health:Vic Fuchs.Amy Finkelstein.Alan Garber.Angus Deaton

Bob Solow
11 Nobel prize winners

There was also some discussion of how many Nobel prizes have been awarded to students of Arrow. I thought of four: Harsanyi, Spence, Maskin, and Myerson. But it turns out that when Arrow visited U. Cambridge he served as the outside chair of Jim Mirrlees' dissertation committee. And Dan McFadden reported that a few hours of conversation with Arrow when he was a grad student had a decisive effect on his work.  And of course the clock is still running...

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