Prof. Ivar Ekeland (Université Paris Dauphine)
Are people rational?

June 9, 2015


Abstract: Economic theory assumes that people make consumption choices by maximizing a concave utility function under linear constraints. Is that correct? More precisely, is that a testable assumption? We will show that it is, and we will provide a test. Proving that the test is necessary and sufficient requires exterior differential calculus, in the line of Elie Cartan, and carrying it out is an experiment in econometrics. This is joint work with P.-A. Chiappori.

Short bio

Ivar Ekeland was born in Paris in 1944. He is Professor Emeritus of Mathematics at the University of Paris-Dauphine. He has been Canada Research Chair in Mathematical Economics at the University of British Columbia, and director of the Pacific Institute of Mathematical Sciences. He has been invited speaker at the International Congress of Mathematicians and has received several prizes from Scientific Academies, including the Langevin Prize of the Paris Academy of Sciences and the Grand Prize of the Belgian Academy of Sciences. He is member of numerous scientific Academies, including the Norwegian and Austrian Academy of Sciences, the Royal Society of Canada, and the Palestinian Academy of Sciences and Technology. He has also received several honorary degrees and has been awarded the Sara Lee Chair in Economics at the University of Chicago. He was the founder of Annales de l'Institut Henri Poincaré, Analyse Nonlinéaire, and is Editor-in-Chief of Mathematics and Financial Economics. He has been supervisor of 37 PhD theses and of 13 habilitations and has served the academic community as a head of several committees. He has written several influential books, on convex and nonlinear analysis, on dynamical systems and on mathematical economics, and has authored more than 150 papers. His research interests range from Nonlinear Analysis (where he has obtained, for example, several results on Critical Points and Hamiltonian Systems, on Convex Analysis and Optimization and has pointed out the famous Variational Principle which is named after him) to Mathematical Economics and Finance. He has authored also some books for a broader audience (on probability and dynamical systems, as well as on economics models) which were translated into several languages and for which was awarded several prizes.