Home News Reinhard Selten, German Nobel economist, dies aged 85

Reinhard Selten, German Nobel economist, dies aged 85

Published on September 01, 2016

Reinhard Selten, the only German to have ever won the Nobel Prize in Economics, has died in Poland at the age of 85, the University of Bonn announced Thursday.

Selten received the Nobel honour in 1994 for his pioneering work on game theory, sharing the prize with the late US researchers John Harsanyi and John Nash, the latter of whom inspired the Hollywood film “A Beautiful Mind”.

Game theory, or the study of decision making, explores how strategic interactions can affect an outcome and has applications ranging from psychology to economics. Selten was notably lauded for his analyses of economic behaviour in a market of few players.

Selten died on August 23 in the western Polish city of Poznan, according to the University of Bonn in western Germany, where he spent decades as a lecturer in economics.

“We are deeply moved by his death,” it said in a statement, describing Selten as “a scientist through and through”, adding that he had continued his research into experimental economics even in retirement.

Born in 1930 in what is now Wroclaw in Poland but was then the German city of Breslau, Selten said his family suffered discrimination because of his father’s Jewish origins, forcing the shutdown of the family business.

The family left the city after the Second World War. Selten went on to study mathematics at the University of Frankfurt and later became an economics professor, lecturing at the University of Berkeley, California and at several German universities.

He was famously out grocery shopping when the Nobel prize was announced, coming home to throngs of journalists who broke the news to him.