Tjalling Koopmans' Nobel Prize medal gifted to Cowles

05/28/2019

The Cowles Foundation was honored to receive Tjalling Koopmans’ Nobel Prize medal by the Frankel family durning an intimate ceremony held at 28 Hillhouse Ave. on May 24.

During the ceremony, Ann Frankel (Tjalling’s daughter) spoke of her father, her father’s work, and the medal before handing it over to former Cowles Director, Al Klevorick, who accepted the medal on behalf of Director Larry Samuelson.

“In my view, Tjalling Koopmans embodied, in person and in his work, the Cowles Foundation,” said Klevorick.  “It is a great honor for us to have the medal and be able to display it.”

To mark the occasion, Yale Economics Professors and  Nobel laureates William Nordhaus and Robert Shiller were on hand to speak of Koopmans’ influence on their careers. 

Professor Robert Shiller spoke of Koopmans’ influence in the use of theory, not just data, in the filed of economics.  “I think the spirit of [Koopmans’] research lives on at Cowles,” said Shiller. ”Tjalling was very import in forming the ethos and method that lives on today in the Cowles Foundation, and more broadly, the Yale community.”

Shiller went on to explain how the Cowles Foundation medal and its motto changed when the foundation moved to Yale, and how the motto was influced by Koopmans, as well as the Foundation’s move to Yale.  “The motto is, ‘Theory and Measurement,’ which is exactly a transposition of [Koopmans’] 1947 paper,” said Shiller. 

Professor William Nordhaus spoke of  meeting Tjalling Koopmans for the first time when he came for a job interview, and how he was impressed with Koopmans’ wide range of interests. He said it was Koopmans’ influce of mathematical programming 

Ann Frankel was joined by her husband Joe Frankel, her son Martin Unsel-Frankel, and Martin’s wife, ???.

The donation is especially meaningful, as Tjalling Koopmans was instrumental in moving the Cowles Foundation (then the Cowles Commission) from the University of Chicago to Yale in 1954. He was a life-long staff member and served two terms as Director of Cowles in the 1960s. 

Tjalling Koopmans (jointly with Leonid Kantorovich) was awarded the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences in 1975 for his contributions to the field of resource allocation, specifically the theory of optimal use of resources.

 Shiller:  “I think the Chicago Cowles conflict is still alive and well.” 

Nordhaus: “I think it is and will be an inspiration for faculty and students who come here to see it.”

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