Thursday, August 23, 2018

Martin Shubik, 1926-2018

Ed Kaplan emails me with the sad news that Martin Shubik died yesterday.

Here's the first brief announcement from Yale School of Management:
Prof. Martin Shubik, Influential Game Theory Scholar, Dies

He was a pioneering game theorist, and a frequent collaborator with his graduate school roommate Lloyd Shapley. My understanding is that the two of them shared a double room, in a suite with John Nash. 

He suffered from a rare disease, Inclusion Body Myositis, and established a charity to organize research about it, Inclusion Body Myositis Registry at Yale.

He was a man of many parts. (See here, for example.)

Here are two photos I took of him at a Stonybrook conference in honor of Shapley. (In the second he must have been proving an especially difficult theorem...)

Martin Shubik in 2003

Two papers by Shapley and Shubik played important roles in areas in which I've worked:

The second (by publication date) was their landmark 1971 paper on matching as an assignment game (with all payments freely transferable), published in volume 1 number 1 of the International Journal of Game Theory: The assignment game I: The core

(Years after it was published, I asked Shapley what ever happened to part II, and his reply was "Never call a paper part I unless you have already written part II."  As I recall, he further said that the plan for the never-written part II had been to study the von Neumann-Morgenstern solutions of the assignment game.)

The first was their famous 1954 paper in the American Political Science Review, perhaps Shubik's most cited, on how to evaluate the strength of each position in "simple" coalitional games, in which every coalition is either 'winning' or 'losing'
A Method for Evaluating the Distribution of Power in a Committee System

I have many times used his model of escalation, The Dollar Auction Game, as an in-class demonstration of the importance of auction rules for auction outcomes and strategies.

Historians of game theory are sure to learn a lot from the archives of his papers and correspondence at Duke:
The Martin Shubik Papers: From Early Game Theory to the Strategic Analysis of War
Update: Yale SOM has now published a long, fond remembrance:
Remembering Prof. Martin Shubik, 1926–2018

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