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Nobel winners, colleagues, friends and family honor Kenneth Arrow

Oct 19 2017
Anita Summers and David Arrow

Among those attending the daylong tribute to Kenneth Arrow were his sister, Anita Summers, and son, David Arrow.

Photo by Steve Castillo

It was an endearing and enlightening day on the life of Kenneth Arrow.

On Oct. 9 — on the same day as the announcement of the 2017 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences — luminaries in the field from around the world gathered at Stanford to pay academic tribute to the late Arrow, a 1972 laureate considered one of the greatest economists of the 20th century.

Arrow was the Joan Kenney Professor of Economics, Emeritus, and professor emeritus of operations research at Stanford. He was also a senior fellow at the Stanford Institute of Economic Policy Research. He died in February at the age of 95.

But as speaker after speaker made clear during the academic tribute, his legacy will live on.

About 250 people, including 12 Nobel laureates, attended the daylong event co-sponsored by SIEPR and the Stanford Department of Economics.

Arrow’s pioneering contributions to general equilibrium theory and welfare theory led him to become the youngest person to date to win the Nobel in economics, but his immense intellectual influence spanned nearly every realm of economics.

Arrow’s seminal papers — still required reading for many of today’s economics students — were not only insightful, but also inspirational, the speakers said.

Shared snippets of Arrow’s life ranged from his “mind-bending lectures” and dinner party shenanigans to theorem talk over a smoked sablefish lunch at a New York deli.

Nobel laureates gathering outside.

A dozen economics Nobel laureates gathered at Stanford on Oct. 9 for an academic tribute to Kenneth Arrow. Winners above, from left to right, are Sir James Mirrlees, 1996, University of Cambridge; Robert Solow, 1987, MIT; Roger Myerson, 2007, University of Chicago; Alvin Roth, 2012, Stanford; Amartya Sen, 1998, Harvard; Robert Lucas, 1995, University of Chicago; Joseph Stiglitz, 2001, Columbia (Stanford emeritus); William Sharpe, 1990, Stanford; Daniel McFadden, 2000, UC Berkeley; Eric Maskin, 2007, Harvard; and Sir Angus Deaton, 2015, Princeton. (In attendance but not pictured: Myron Sholes, 1997, Stanford, emeritus)

Photo by Steve Castillo

Please visit the event page to watch the tributes, keynotes and discussions of Arrow's contributions.