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Herbert Simon

(1916 - 2001)

Herbert Simon was a Jewish American political scientist and economist who received the 1978 Nobel Prize for Economics.

Simon (born June 15, 1916; died February 9, 2001) was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. His father, an electrical engineer, had immigrated to the United States from Germany in 1905 and met his mother, a descendant of Czech immigrants. Simon recieved both his B.A. (1936) and Ph.D. (1943) in political science from the University of Chicago.

From 1942 to 1949, Simon worked in the faculty at the Illinois Institute of Technology where he served as chair of the political science department. In 1949, Simon became a professor of administration and chairman of the Department of Industrial Management at Carnegie Tech (later Carnegie Mellon University) and he continued to teach in various departments at the university until his death in 2001.

From 1950 to 1955, Simon studied mathematical economics and together with David Hawkins discovered and proved the Hawkins–Simon theorem on the “conditions for the existence of positive solution vectors for input-output matrices." He also developed theorems on near-decomposability and aggregation. Through his studies, Simon determined that the best way to study problem-solving was to simulate it with computer programs, which led to his interest in computer simulation of human cognition and the creation of problem-solving software programs and computer languages.

Simon has also been credited for revolutionary changes in microeconomics. He is responsible for the concept of organizational decision-making and was the first to discuss this concept in terms of uncertainty. It was for discoveries in this area that he was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1978. Simon also received the National Medal of Science in 1986.

Simon died in February 2001. He was survived by his wife Dorothea and three children.

Sources: Dor LeDor; Wikipedia