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Sectioning the Nobel Prize


By Daniel Swanson

How many Nobel Prizewinners teach sections for introductory courses in their fields. In an academic world increasingly oriented toward arcane research probably not many. But Kenneth J Arrow professor of Economics who won a share of the prize in his field this week, taught Economics 10 sections until he went on leave this year.

Arrow, however, did not receive the Economics Nobel for his lucid explanations of the ins and outs of demand and supply curves. The Swedish Academy of Science jointly awarded the $98,000 prize to Arrow and his theoretical mentor. Sir John Hicks of Oxford University, for their "pioneering contribution to equilibrium theory and welfare theory."

Arrow developed the "Impossibility Theorem," which demonstrates in principle that no political system can perfectly reflect the wishes of the electorate. Using elementary mathematical techniques. Arrow first developed the theorem when he was a fledging assistant professor at Chicago two decades ago.

Arrow, 51, is presently on leave with a Guggenheim Fellowship. He said last week after receiving the award he was "honored by the feeling that my work has been of some use to the economics profession and to the world."

Arrow's award came as somewhat of a surprise. He is the youngest American and the second consecutive Harvard faculty member to receive the honor. Simon S. Kuznets. Baker Professor of Economics Emeritus received the award last year for his pioneering work in national incomes analysis.

Arrow will split the prize with Hicks. Always the team player, he said last week he would consult with his Economics Department collegues before deciding how to dispose of the money.

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