Robert Dorfman

TIMS President, 1965

Robert Dorfman was the 12th President of TIMS. He was an economist who taught first at UC Berkeley (1950-55) and then at Harvard (1955-87) where he was the Davis A. Wells Professor of Political Economy. He was a statistician for the federal government from 1939 to 1943 and an operations analyst for the U.S. Air Force during World War II.

Dr. Dorfman turned to mathematics after deciding that he did not have a future as a poet. He did early research in liner programming and environmental economics and on the theory of capital and its antecedents. His work on the detection of defective members of large populations is a benchmark in economics. His environmental work dealt with water resources in the Middle East and Pakistan, which lead to an understanding of the conservation and distribution of scarce resources.

He is the author of many papers and several books, including Applications of Linear Programming to the Theory of the Firm (1951 ) and Linear Programming and Economic Analysis (1958), the latter with Nobel Prize winners Robert Solow and Paul Samuelson

Dorfman received many honors, including a Guggenheim Fellowship and two Ford Faculty Research Fellowships; He was a Distinguished Fellow of the American Economic Association and a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. From 1976 to 1984, he served as editor of the Quarterly Journal of Economics. During his long career, Dorfman was vice president of the American Economic Association, vice president of the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, and member of several committees focused on environmental concerns. He chaired the National Research Council's Committee on Prototype Analysis of Pesticides in 1978

Robert Dorfman died in 2002 at age 87.

BA (Mathematical Statistics), 1936, Columbia; MS (economics), 1937, Columbia; PhD (Economics) 1950, UC Berkeley