American Experience
A Brilliant Madness: American Nobel Economists
John C. Harsanyi

Harsanyi served in a forced labor unit of the Hungarian army from May to November 1944, then was sent to a grim Austrian concentration camp, where many perished. He escaped, with the aid of a Jesuit priest, and went to Budapest to study and teach sociology. In 1950 he fled the Communists, slipping across the heavily guarded Hungarian border, and headed for Australia.

Working in a factory by day, Harsanyi took night classes at the University of Sydney, and ultimately came to the U.S. for his doctoral work. He shared the 1994 Nobel with John Nash and Reinhard Selten. Harsanyi's principal contributions to the field of game theory concerned predicting outcomes with only limited information. While his work was mostly theoretical, throughout his career Harsanyi was asked to apply his ideas to problems as diverse as nuclear arms control and the environment.

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