Duncan Luce

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Robert Duncan Luce (born May 16, 1925 in Scranton , Pennsylvania , † August 11, 2012 in Irvine , California ) was an American mathematician , economist and psychologist . He is best known for Luce's axiom of choice, named after him, from the field of decision theory.

Career, research and teaching

Luce studied at the Boston Massachusetts Institute of Technology , where he first made his Bachelor of Science degree in aerospace engineering in 1945 . He then stayed at the university, where he received a Ph.D. graduated in mathematics .

Initially, Luce stayed at MIT, where he worked in the electronics research laboratory. In 1953 he moved to Columbia University . First he headed the behavior modeling program there, and from 1954 he was also assistant professor for mathematical statistics and sociology . In 1957 he went as a lecturer at Harvard University before he was appointed full professor in psychology at the University of Pennsylvania in 1959 . From 1968 he occupied the Benjamin Franklin chair for psychology at the university . In 1972 he followed a call from the University of California, Irvine , and in 1976 he returned to Harvard as Alfred North Whitehead Professor . Between 1981 and 1984 he was head of the Department of Psychology and Social Relations , then he took over the Victor S. Thomas Chair , which he retained after his retirement in 1988. In the same year he went back to the University of California in Irvine, where he took on various tasks in the field of behavioral description and was Professor of Cognitive Science until 1994 . He then retired here as well.

Luce's field of activity was between psychology, its application to human behavior, especially in the economic area, and its mathematical description. He particularly dealt with decision theory. In the late 1950s, he developed a probabilistic decision-making model for choosing an option. Accordingly, the probability of choosing between two options is independent of the total amount available. However, he later restricted his result, as context effects in particular can affect the choice. Nevertheless, his axiom is mainly used in consumer research. In particular with David Krantz , he further developed his approach, the so-called Luce Krantz models explicitly include situational knowledge in the modeling.

Luce had been a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences since 1966, and six years later he was accepted into the National Academy of Sciences . In 1994 he was admitted to the American Philosophical Society . Since 2010 he was a member of the Econometric Society . The American Biographical Institute named him Man of the Year in 1996 and the National Medal of Science in 2003 . He was an honorary doctorate from the University of Waterloo . In addition, he received numerous awards for his work, and he was represented in several other scientific organizations.


The following is a list of books published by Luce, and he has also written numerous magazine articles and working papers.

  • with Howard Raiffa : Games and Decisions: Introduction and Critical Survey. 1957
  • Individual Choice Behavior: A Theoretical Analysis. 1959
  • with David Krantz , Patrick Suppes and Amos Tversky : Foundations of Measurement. 3 volumes, 1971, 1989 and 1990
  • Response Times. 1986
  • Sound & hearing. 1993
  • Utility of Gains and Losses: Measurement-Theoretical and Experimental Approaches. 2000


Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Renowned UCI scholar R. Duncan Luce dies at 87 ( Memento of the original from January 9, 2013 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. at uci.edu; Retrieved September 8, 2012  @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / today.uci.edu
  2. ^ Member History: R. Duncan Luce. American Philosophical Society, accessed December 15, 2018 .