Roy Radner, who died on Oct. 6 at Pennswood Village in Newtown, Pennsylvania, aged 95, enjoyed a long and distinguished career as a teacher and researcher.
Roy taught for many years at UC Berkeley, and is best known for his contributions to microeconomics. Most recently he worked as Stern Professor at New York University until 2017. As a researcher, he brought his curiosity and intellect to a range of areas, including higher education, climate change, bounded rationality, game-theoretic models of corruption, pricing of information goods and statistical theory of data mining. He published prolifically and typically worked collaboratively, often seeking out younger colleagues. He also received many honors, both at home and abroad. He was twice the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, as well as Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Distinguished Fellow of the American Economic Association and Member of the National Academy of Sciences. He gave the 1989-90 Marshall Lectures at the University of Cambridge. His work on the economic theory of teams and centralized information processing has been highly influential, and his recent work on climate change treaties was groundbreaking.
Roy’s beginnings were modest. Born in Chicago on June 29, 1927, to Samuel and Ella Radner, both from Eastern European immigrant families, he attended public high school and completed a bachelor’s degree in liberal arts at the University of Chicago in 1945 on a scholarship. His education was interrupted by his service in the US Armed Forces. Upon his return to Chicago, he again took up his studies, receiving a B.S. in 1950, a M.S. in mathematics in 1951 and a Ph.D. in mathematical statistics in 1956, all from the University of Chicago. Subsequent to appointments as assistant professor at the University of Chicago and Yale University, he joined UC Berkeley as an Associate Professor in 1957, where he was promoted to Professor in 1961 at the age of 34. He left Berkeley in 1979 to join the technical staff at Bell Labs where he could devote himself exclusively to research. In 1995 he retired from Bell Labs to join NYU and in 1996 was appointed Leonard N. Stern School Professor of Business, and in 2007 received the additional title of Professor of Environmental Studies. Indeed, he was an ardent and early whistle blower when it came to the issues surrounding climate change.
In an assessment that is commonly shared, one reviewer, Aditya Goenka, noted: “Radner’s contribution to economics has been truly remarkable. His seminal work has changed the way in which we view uncertainty and information, dynamic general equilibrium models, dynamic strategic interaction, economic organizations and teams, and issues of rationality.”
Throughout the course of his life, Roy was a loving father, devoted spouse, and generous to colleagues, students, and friends. The encouragement he provided to those seeking higher education extended to his own family, with all of his four children gaining advanced degrees. He leaves behind his wife, Charlotte Kuh, three children (Hilary Radner, Ami Radunskaya, and Ephraim Radner), two step-children (Siobhan Stiglitz Florek and Michael Stiglitz), and three grandchildren (Ezra, Hannah and Isaac). Ezra and Roy’s great-grandson Callahan still live in Berkeley. Roy was predeceased by his first wife, Virginia, and his daughter Erica.
Donations in his memory can be made to EDGE (Enhancing Diversity in Graduate Education), an organization whose ideals and aspirations marked Roy’s educational ethos and worldview. A travel grant in his name has been set up for young researchers as a fitting tribute to his life and work.