INFORMS Open Forum

  • 1.  Remembering Martin Shubik

    Posted 08-23-2018 09:00

    INFORMS is saddened to share the passing of Martin Shubik, a leader in competitive and cooperative game theory whose career at Yale University spanned more than 50 years.

    Martin Shubik was born in Manhattan, New York City , but was raised in England where his family was originally from. Here he attended the Woodstock School and the University College School in London, and Canford, East Dorset.

    Following the start of the Battle of Britain and the Blitz during World War II, Martin's father sent him, his mother and siblings to stay with relatives in Canada. The ship they traveled on, the Duchess of Atholl, would later be sunk by a torpedo in the South Atlantic.

    Martin finished high school at Pickering College in Newmarket, Ontario, now a suburb of Toronto and received a scholarship to the University of Toronto, majoring in mathematics.  To fulfill a condition of staying in college in Canada during World War II, he enlisted in the Naval officer training program and spent time in Halifax, Nova Scotia and at sea, and held the rank of Lieutenant, Royal Canadian Navy, retired, since 1950. 

    After finishing his bachelor's degree at the University of Toronto he pursued an MA in political economy there. Shubik went to Princeton for an AM (1951) and PhD (1953) in economics under the sponsorship of Oskar Morgenstern, and studied with Morgenstern and with Albert Tucker. He was assigned to share a suite with Lloyd Shapley and John Nash, who became lifelong friends and coauthored papers together. Others he met in Economics at Princeton included Thomas Whitin, Otto Eckstein and Gary Becker and, in Mathematics Marvin Minsky, John McCarthy, Herbert Scarf, Ralph Gomory, Richard Karlin, Alan Hoffman and Harlan Mills in Mathematics.          

    After completing his PhD, Shubik remained at Yale as a Research Associate in Economics, spent a year at the newly established Center for Advanced Study in Behavioral Sciences (now part of Stanford University), taught at Pennsylvania State, and served as a consultant at General Electric and a staff member in the T. J. Watson Research Laboratories at IBM before joining the Yale faculty (where he had previously spent a year as Visiting Professor of Economics) in 1963.   At General Electric he had the opportunity to look at different plants in a variety of industries as part of GE's strategic planning process.  At IBM he worked on experimental, teaching and operational gaming, and developed a theory of bidding. 

    At Yale, Shubik was Professor of Economics of Organization in the Department of Administrative Sciences until 1976, when the Department became part of the Yale's School of Organization and Management, now the School of Management. In the new business school he was the Seymour H. Knox Professor of Mathematical Institutional Economics (a term he coined in the 1960's) in the new business school, and became emeritus in 2007. His more 50 years at Yale included a period as Director of the Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics there, as well as visiting appointments at RAND in Santa Monica and the institute for Advanced Studies in Vienna.  He served as a consultant to many companies and government agencies in the US and other countries. 

    Shubik's research and publications covered a diverse array of topics, many centered on competitive and cooperative game theory, using mathematical, experimental, and simulation methods. With Lloyd Shapley, Shubik proposed and investigated the properties of a method, now called the Shapley-Shubik index, of determining the division of power among coalitions in committees, shareholder groups, assemblies, and legislative bodies. Their paper introducing the index and relating it to the Shapley value was written when both were graduate students. It was accepted by the American Political Science Review within six weeks and is Shubik's most cited work.   

    He also constructed and analyzed mathematical models of a variety of game formulations, including games called the Dollar Auction and "So Long Sucker."

    A continuing theme of his research, beginning at IBM in 1961, had been in search of a theory of money in microeconomics. Unsuccessful in his early attempts, he returned to the problem in the 1970's and built a model which, in collaboration with Shapley, treats money as a commodity traded for other commodities in a multiplayer game. He continued to build on this model well into the 21st century, publishing three lectures on the theory of money and financial institutions as Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers in 2016.    

    He won Lanchester Prize in 1983 for his book, Game Theory in the Social Sciences, and the Koopman Prize in 1995 with Jerome Bracken for the application of game theory to nuclear coalitions and crisis stability.  

    Among the hundreds of publications by Shubik are papers covering topics such as business cycles, information, rationality, free choice, antitrust, data organization, the use of games in teaching, technology transfer, disarmament, accounting, nuclear strategy, intergenerational inheritance, publishing, European natural gas, football, capital asset pricing, reinsurance, terrorism, and bitcoins.  The publications include a paper, Demographic and clinical features of inclusion body myositis in North America, coauthored with Yale colleagues in Public Health, Medicine and Management as well as with his son-in-law, Lehigh University Economics Professor Seth Richards-Shubik. Inclusion body myositis (IBM) is an autoimmune and degenerative disorder of skeletal muscle of unknown etiology.  The Inclusion Body Myositis Registry at Yale website states that Martin Shubik "is the driving force behind the study reported in the paper, was himself a sufferer of IBM, and helped fund much of the costs for undertaking the study."

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    Scharan Johnson
    Director of Membership and Communities
    Catonsville, MD