Oskar Morgenstern (January 24, 1902, Görlitz, Germany – July 26, 1977, Princeton, New Jersey) was an Austrian economist and together with mathematician John von Neumann, he founded the mathematical field of game theory and its application to economics.
Morgenstern grew up in Vienna, Austria, where he also went to university. From 1925 until 1928 he went on a three-year fellowship financed by the Rockefeller Foundation. After his return in 1928 he became a professor in economics at the University of Vienna until his visit to Princeton University in 1938. During Morgenstern's visit to Princeton University, Adolf Hitler took over Vienna through the Anschluss Österreichs and Morgenstern decided to remain in the United States. He became a member of the faculty at Princeton but gravitated toward the Institute for Advanced Study. There, he met the mathematician John von Neumann and they collaborated to write Theory of Games and Economic Behavior, published in 1944, which is recognized as the first book on game theory. Game Theory is a mathematical framework for the study of strategic structures which govern rational decision-making in certain economic, political and military situations.
The collaboration between economist Morgenstern and mathematician von Neumann led to the birth of entirely new areas investigation in both mathematics and economics. These have attracted widespread academic and practical interest since that time. In 1944 Morgenstern also became a United States citizen, and four years later he married Dorothy Young. Morgenstern remained at Princeton as a professor of economics until his retirement in 1970, at which time he joined the faculty of New York University. Morgenstern wrote many other articles and books, including On the Accuracy of Economic Observations, and Predictability of Stock Market Prices with subsequent Nobel laureate Clive Granger.
Game theory is the study of strategic decision making. Specifically, it is "the study of mathematical models of conflict and cooperation between intelligent rational decision-makers." An alternative term suggested "as a more descriptive name for the discipline" is interactive decision theory. Game theory is mainly used in economics, political science, and psychology, as well as logic, computer science, and biology. The subject first addressed zero-sum games, such that one person's gains exactly equal net losses of the other participant or participants. Today, however, game theory applies to a wide range of behavioral relations, and has developed into an umbrella term for the logical side of decision science, including both humans and non-humans (e.g. computers, animals).
Modern game theory began with the idea regarding the existence of mixed-strategy equilibria in two-person zero-sum games and its proof by John von Neumann. Von Neumann's original proof used Brouwer fixed-point theorem on continuous mappings into compact convex sets, which became a standard method in game theory and mathematical economics. His paper was followed by the 1944 book Theory of Games and Economic Behavior, co-written with Oskar Morgenstern, which considered cooperative games of several players. The second edition of this book provided an axiomatic theory of expected utility, which allowed mathematical statisticians and economists to treat decision-making under uncertainty.
This theory was developed extensively in the 1950s by many scholars. Game theory was later explicitly applied to biology in the 1970s, although similar developments go back at least as far as the 1930s. Game theory has been widely recognized as an important tool in many fields.
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