IN MEMORY: Herbert E. Scarf (July 25, 1930 - November 15, 2015)


Sterling Professor Emeritus of Economics, Yale University

Ph.D., Mathematics, Princeton University, 1954 M.A., Princeton University, 1952 A.B., Temple University

Herbert Scarf began his career at the Rand Corporation in Santa Monica, California, and was on the faculty of Stanford University before coming to Yale. Professor Scarf has been a member of the Yale faculty since 1963.  He has served as director of the Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, and director of the Division of Social Sciences at Yale.

Herbert Scarf was a member of the National Academy of Sciences, a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a member of the American Philosophical Society. He was president of the Econometric Society in 1983. He received both the Frederick Lanchester Award in 1973 and the John von Neumann Medal in 1983 from the Operations Research Society of America and was elected as a Distinguished Fellow of the American Economic Association in 1991.

Professor Scarf’s research interests were in mathematical economics, cooperative game theory, applied general equilibrium analysis, and indivisibilities in production.  Among many contributions, he will be remembered for the Debreu-Scarf Theorem, showing that the set of core allocations of a competitive equilibrium shrinks to the set of competitive equilibria as the economy grows large, and for Scarf’s Theorem, showing that every balanced game has a nonempty core. Scarf’s Lemma, the combinatorial engine behind Scarf’s Theorem, has subsequently seen application in a wide variety of fields.

Herbert Scarf was a gracious and inspiring presence in the Department of Economics at Yale, and will be missed by all.


Read:Herbert Scarf: A Distinguished American Economist,” by Zaifu Yang, University of York, Discussion Paper No. 12/06