1. The “Center for Rationality”
“Founded in 1991, the Hebrew University’s Center for the Study of Rationality [at first it was simply called “Center for Rationality”] is a unique venture in which faculty, students, and guests join forces to explore the rational basis of decision-making. Coming from a broad sweep of departments — mathematics, economics, psychology, biology, education, computer science, philosophy, business, statistics, and law — its members apply game- theoretic tools to examine the processes by which individuals seeking the path of maximum benefit respond to real-world situations where individuals with different goals interact.”
Game theory was always strong at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and a nice aspect of it is the combination of mathematics and debating. As an undergraduate I was quite interested in game theory along with combinatorics and convexity, and my first published paper was on game theory, with Michael Maschler and Guillermo Owen. Later I moved in other directions, but more recently, in part because of my membership in the Center for the last ten years and in part because of my collaboration with economists Ariel Rubinstein (who was my classmate in my undergraduate years) and Rani Spiegler, I am trying to do research and write papers in theoretical economics. Not having the basic instincts of an economist, and lacking some basic background, makes it especially difficult.
Let me also mention that there are very interesting connections between computer science and economics and a very large emerging research community.
2. Many many controversies
Among the many issues discussed and debated in seminars at the Center (the regular ones are the “Game Theory Seminar” on Sundays and the “Rationality on Friday” seminars on… Fridays,) roundtables, the annual retreat, Sunday’s sandwich gatherings, and ample debates over e-mail were:
The controversy over expected utility theory (we will come back to it below); (Little updates: May, 21)
The role of psychology in economics;
The relevance of “neuroeconomy”;