5801 S Ellis Ave, Chicago, IL 60637, United States
In 1933, Simon entered the University of Chicago, where he received his Bachelor of Arts in 1936 and a Ph.D. in 1943, in political science.
Herbert A. Simon
Herbert A. Simon
Herbert A. Simon
Herbert A. Simon
Dorothea and Herbert Simon after their wedding in Milwaukee, Christmas Day, 1937.
Research on problem solving, using the Tower of Hanoi puzzle as the laboratory task, 1969. The Tower of Hanoi was to cognitive science what the fruit flies were to modern genetics-an invaluable standard research setting.
(Administrative Behavior is considered one of the most inf...)
Administrative Behavior is considered one of the most influential books on social science thinking, and was referred to by the Nobel Committee as "epoch-making."
(This book brings together papers dating from the start of...)
This book brings together papers dating from the start of Simon’s career to the present. Its focus is on modeling the chief components of human cognition and on testing these models experimentally.
(The ability to apply reason to the choice of actions is s...)
The ability to apply reason to the choice of actions is supposed to be one of the defining characteristics of our species. In the first two chapters, the author explores the nature and limits of human reason, comparing and evaluating the major theoretical frameworks that have been erected to explain reasoning processes.
(In this candid and witty autobiography, Nobel laureate He...)
In this candid and witty autobiography, Nobel laureate Herbert A. Simon looks at his distinguished and varied career, continually asking himself whether (and how) what he learned as a scientist helps to explain other aspects of his life.
(Continuing his exploration of the organization of complex...)
Continuing his exploration of the organization of complexity and the science of design, this new edition of Herbert Simon's classic work on artificial intelligence adds a chapter that sorts out the current themes and tools―chaos, adaptive systems, genetic algorithms―for analyzing complexity and complex systems. There are updates throughout the book as well. These take into account important advances in cognitive psychology and the science of design while confirming and extending the book's basic thesis: that a physical symbol system has the necessary and sufficient means for intelligent action. The chapter "Economic Reality" has also been revised to reflect a change in emphasis in Simon's thinking about the respective roles of organizations and markets in economic systems.
(In his Mattioli Lectures, Nobel Laureate Professor Herber...)
In his Mattioli Lectures, Nobel Laureate Professor Herbert A. Simon directs attention to the kinds of empirical research that are necessary for progress in microeconomics.
(Here, several leading experts in the area of cognitive sc...)
Here, several leading experts in the area of cognitive science summarize their current research programs, tracing Herbert A. Simon's influence on their own work - and on the field of information processing at large. Topics covered include problem-solving, imagery, reading, writing, memory, expertise, instruction, and learning. Collectively, the chapters reveal a high degree of coherence across the various specialized disciplines within cognition - a coherence largely attributable to the initial unity in Simon's seminal and pioneering contributions.
Simon was educated at the Milwaukee public school. In 1933, Simon entered the University of Chicago, where he received his Bachelor of Arts in 1936 and a Ph.D. in 1943, in political science.
Simon's career was settled at least as much by drift as by choice. An undergraduate field study for a term paper developed an interest in decision-making in organizations. On graduation in 1936, the term paper led to a research assistantship with Clarence E. Ridley in the field of municipal administration, carrying out investigations that would now be classified as operations research. The research assistantship led to the directorship, from 1939 to 1942, of a research group at the University of California, Berkeley, engaged in the same kinds of studies. By arrangement with the University of Chicago, Simon took his doctoral exams by mail and moonlighted a dissertation on administrative decision-making during his three years at Berkeley.
When their research grant was exhausted, in 1942, jobs were not plentiful and his military obligations were uncertain. Simon secured a position in political science at Illinois Institute of Technology by the intercession of a friend who was leaving. At that time, the Cowles Commission for Research in Economics was located at the University of Chicago. Its staff included Jacob Marschak and Tjalling Koopmans who were then directing the graduate work of such students as Kenneth Arrow, Leo Hurwicz, Lawrence Klein, and Don Patinkin. Oscar Lange, not yet returned to Poland, Milton Friedman, and Franco Modigliani frequently participated in the Cowles staff seminars, and Simon also became a regular participant.
That started him on a second education in economics, supplementing the Walrasian theory and Neyman-Pearson statistics he had learned earlier from Henry Schultz (and from Jerzy Neyman in Berkeley) with a careful study of Keyne’s General Theory, and the novel econometric techniques being introduced by Frisch and investigated by the Cowles staff.
Simon was soon co-opted by Marschak into participating in the study he and Sam Schurr were directing of the prospective economic effects of atomic energy. Taking responsibility for the macroeconomic parts of that study, he used as his analytic tools both classical Cobb-Douglas functions, and the new activity analysis being developed by Koopmans. Although Simon had earlier published papers on tax incidence (1943) and technological development (1947), the atomic energy project was his real baptism in economic analysis. Simon's interest in mathematical economics having been aroused, he continued active work on problems in that domain, mainly in the period from 1950 to 1955. It was during this time that he worked out the relations between causal ordering and identifiability-coming for the first time in contact with the related work of Herman Wold-discovered and proved (with David Hawkins) the Hawkins-Simon theorem on the conditions for the existence of positive solution vectors for input-output matrices, and developed (with Albert Ando) theorems on near-decomposability and aggregation.
In 1949, Carnegie Institute of Technology received an endowment to establish a Graduate School of Industrial Administration. Simon left Chicago for Pittsburgh to participate with G. L. Bach, William W. Cooper, and others in developing the new school, where he would eventually stay until 2001. Their goal was to place business education on a foundation of fundamental studies in economics and behavioral science. They were fortunate to pick a time for launching this venture when the new management science techniques were just appearing on the horizon, together with the electronic computer. As one part of the effort, Simon engaged with Charles Holt, and later with Franco Modigliani and John Muth, in developing dynamic programming techniques - the so-called “linear decision rules” - for aggregate inventory control and production smoothing. Holt and Simon derived the rules for optimal decision under certainty, then proved a certainty-equivalence theorem that permitted their technique to be applied under conditions of uncertainty. Modigliani and Muth went on to construct efficient computational algorithms. At this same time, Tinbergen and Theil were independently developing very similar techniques for national planning in the Netherlands.
Meanwhile, however, the descriptive study of organizational decision-making continued as Simon's main occupation, in this case in collaboration with Harold Guetzkow, James March, Richard Cyert and others. Their work led them to feel increasingly the need for a more adequate theory of human problem-solving if they were to understand decisions. Allen Newell, whom Simon had met at the Rand Corporation in 1952, held similar views. About 1954, Newell and Simon conceived the idea that the right way to study problem-solving was to simulate it with computer programs. Gradually, computer simulation of human cognition became his central research interest, an interest that has continued to be absorbing up to the present time.
Simon's research on problem-solving left him relatively little opportunity to do work of a more classical sort in economics. He did, however, continue to develop stochastic models to explain the observed highly-skewed distributions of sizes of business firms.
Simon's first book, written with С. E. Ridley and entitled Measuring Municipal Activities, appeared in 1943. A diverse range of books followed, including Fire Losses and Fire Risks, Models of Man, Shape of Automation, and Economics, Bounded Rationality, and the Cognitive Revolution, which was published in 1992.
(Continuing his exploration of the organization of complex...)1996
(Administrative Behavior is considered one of the most inf...)1947
(This book provides the original and definitive treatments...)1958
(Here, several leading experts in the area of cognitive sc...)1999
(The ability to apply reason to the choice of actions is s...)1983
(This book brings together papers dating from the start of...)1979
(In this candid and witty autobiography, Nobel laureate He...)1991
(In his Mattioli Lectures, Nobel Laureate Professor Herber...)1998
Simon's research ranged from computer science to psychology, administration and economics. The thread of continuity through all of his work was his interest in human decision-making and problem-solving processes and the implications of these processes for social institutions.
In a stream of articles, Simon, who trained as a political scientist, questioned mainstream economists’ view of economic man as a lightning-quick calculator of costs and benefits. Simon saw people’s rationality as “bounded.” Because getting information about alternatives is costly, and because the consequences of many possible decisions cannot be known anyway, argued Simon, people cannot act the way economists assume they act. Instead of maximizing their utility, they “satisfice”; that is, they do as well as they think is possible. One way they do so is by devising rules of thumb (e.g., save 10 percent of after-tax income every month) that economize on the cost of collecting information and on the cost of thinking.
Simon also questioned economists’ view that firms maximize profits. He proposed instead that because of their members’ bounded rationality and often contradictory goals and perspectives, firms reach decisions that can only be described as satisfactory rather than the best. Not surprisingly for one who believes that decision-making is costly, Simon also worked on problems of artificial intelligence.
Simon had a keen interest in the arts, as he was a pianist. He was a friend of Robert Lepper and Richard Rappaport. Rappaport also painted Simon's commissioned portrait at Carnegie Mellon University. He was also a keen mountain climber. As a testament to his wide interests, he at one point taught an undergraduate course on the French Revolution.
Simon was married to Dorothea P. Simon. They had three children, Katherine Simon Frank, Peter A. Simon, and Barbara M. Simon. He also had six grandchildren, three step-grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.