Herb Scarf
Herbert Eli Scarf

(1930-07-25)July 25, 1930
DiedNovember 15, 2015(2015-11-15) (aged 85)
InstitutionYale University
FieldEconomics, Mathematics
Alma materTemple University (BA)
Princeton University (MA, PhD)
Salomon Bochner
AwardsJohn von Neumann Theory Prize (1983)
Information at IDEAS / RePEc

Herbert Eli "Herb" Scarf (July 25, 1930 – November 15, 2015) was an American mathematical economist and Sterling Professor of Economics at Yale University.

Education and career

Scarf was born in Philadelphia, the son of Jewish emigrants from Ukraine and Russia, Lene (Elkman) and Louis Scarf.[1] During his undergraduate work he finished in the top 10 of the 1950 William Lowell Putnam Mathematical Competition, the major mathematics competition between universities across the United States and Canada. He received his PhD from Princeton in 1954, supervised by Salomon Bochner.[2]


Among his notable works is a seminal paper in cooperative game in which he showed sufficiency for a core (economics) in general balanced games. Sufficiency and necessity had been previously shown by Lloyd Shapley for games where players were allowed to transfer utility between themselves freely. Necessity is shown to be lost in the generalization.


Scarf received the 1973 Frederick W. Lanchester Award for his contribution The Computation of Economic Equilibria with the collaboration of Terje Hansen, which pioneered the use of numeric algorithms to solve general equilibrium systems using Applied general equilibrium models. He was a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the National Academy of Sciences, and the American Philosophical Society, and was elected to the 2002 class of Fellows of the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences.[3][4][5][6]


  1. ^ Roberts, Sam (November 21, 2015). "Herbert Scarf, an Economist's Mathematician, Dies at 85 (Published 2015)" – via NYTimes.com.
  2. ^ Herbert Scarf at the Mathematics Genealogy Project
  3. ^ Fellows: Alphabetical List, Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences, archived from the original on 2019-05-10, retrieved 2019-10-09
  4. ^ "Herbert Eli Scarf". American Academy of Arts & Sciences. Retrieved 2022-03-21.
  5. ^ "Herbert E. Scarf". www.nasonline.org. Retrieved 2022-03-21.
  6. ^ "APS Member History". search.amphilsoc.org. Retrieved 2022-03-21.