June 1996 € Volume 23 € Number 3


Fishburn Awarded von Neumann



The von Neumann Theory Prize for contributions to the theory of operations research and management science has been awarded by INFORMS to Peter C. Fishburn for his contributions to the foundations of choice under certainty, including axiomizations of utilities, subjective probabilities and ordered sets, and to related theories of voting and social choice.

Fishburn has published several books, including "The Foundations of Expected Utility" (1982), and "Nonlinear Preference and Utility Theory" (1988). Through numerous articles he has made contributions to: axiomatic foundations of linear preference and utility theory, including choice under risk and uncertainty, plus axiomatic investigations on subjective probability; the theory of measurements; multiattribute preference/utility theory; stochastic dominance and risk analysis; and axiomatic development of far-reaching, nonlinear preference/utility theories under risk and uncertainty, including multiattribute and stochastic-dominance studies of the same.

He has also developed basic axiomizations for general probability measures for partially ordered preferences and for conditional expectations, as well as finite-dimensional lexicographic utility. Fishburn's early work on multiattribute utility theory is particularly noteworthy in that his first axiomization for additive expected utility theory opened up the entire area of multiattribute expected utility and led to extensive development by others.

Fishburn's earliest work on partially ordered probabilities in decision analysis have significantly influenced later work in this area. Although stochastic dominance has old roots in mathematics and statistics, Fishburn's interest helped to make the topic move widely known in operations research and economics. And, his theoretical papers greatly extend the notion of stochastic dominance and revealed close ties between dominance and moments of probability distributions.

He has played a leading role over the last decade in developing generalized theories of choice under uncertainty. For example, he has shown that weighted-linear utility is an intermediate (transitive but nonlinear) stage on the road from von Neumann-Morgenstern (transitive, linear) to SSB (non-T and non-L) utility and has established multiattribute decomposition, its properties in dominance analysis and that states-additive, or expected, SSB preferences can yield concrete solutions to actual decision problems modeled in customary ways.

Fishburn has also made significant contributions to group decision making, including decisions based on voting processes. These contributions are most evident in his books "The Theory of Social Choice" (1973) and "Interprofile Conditions and Impossibility" (1987), as well as the numerous articles on social choice functions, majority choice, representative majorities, Condorcet's phenomenon of cyclical majorities, and Arrow impossibility theorems.

In his extensive research and writings, Fishburn has worked with many other leaders in operations research and management sciences, and has helped many young scholars and students.


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