Technical Terms and Definitions

John von Neumann - People

Born in Budapest, Hungary in 1903. After simultaneously earning a doctorate in mathematics from the University of Budapest and a doctorate in chemistry from the University of Zurich, he joined the faculty of the University of Berlin in 1927. He moved to Princeton in 1932 where he became the youngest member of the IAS. During this time, he made important contributions not only to pure and applied mathematics, but also to physics and, in some ways, philosophy (esp. in relation to the quantum paradox). He was also active in the Manhattan Project (the development of the atomic bomb) and was one of President Truman's advisors on the Atomic Energy Commission. His later work on parallel processes and networks has earned him the label of the "father of the modern computer". As Nicholas Kaldor would later write, "He was unquestionably the nearest thing to a genius I have ever encountered."

An astoundingly creative mathematician, John von Neumann has played a rather important role in post-war economic theory through two essential pieces of work: his 1937 paper on a multi-sectoral growth model and his 1944 book (with Oskar Morgenstern) on game theory and uncertainty.