DEFINITION of 'Gerard Debreu'

Gerard Debreu was a mathematician and economist who was born in France but spent most of his academic career in the United States and most particularly at University of California at Berkeley. As the primary focus of his research was general equilibrium theory, his seminal works yielded his interests towards a possible balance between supply and demand that would trounce conventional economic theory about the nature of the marketplace.

BREAKING DOWN 'Gerard Debreu'

Born in 1921, Gerard Debreu was quickly orphaned as a youngster when his father committed suicide and his mother died of natural causes. Born into a mercantile family who made lace, Debreu showed early promise in mathematics and was granted his high school with an eye towards prepping for the national exams to a grande ecole, an ambition achieved when he was admitted to École Normale Supérieure in Paris in 1941.

Debreu studied there for three years, but as he was preparing to take the final examinations, the landings in Normandy began and Debreu promptly enlisted in the French army. He was sent to Algeria for training and then released from service in 1945 after serving in French-occupied Germany. Towards the end of that year and extending into early 1946, Debreu took his examination Agregation de Mathematiques but began to make a transition from mathematics to economics, influenced in no small part by the general equilibrium theory of Leon Walrus and the Bourbaki brothers also. By 1948, his scholarship and interest in the issues of economists led him to be awarded a Rockefeller scholarship to visit and teach in the United States.

'Gerard Debreu' and Seminal Theories

Having joined the faculty at the University of Chicago in 1950 with intermittent travel back and forth to Paris, Debreu began working on the seminal theories that would earn him a career, the respect of other economists, and eventually attract the attention of the Nobel Committee. In 1954, along with Kenneth Arrow as co-author, he produced a paper titled “Existence of an Equilibrium for a Competitive Economy,” wherein the pair was able to prove the mathematical potential of a stable economy where supply and demand are on similar curves. The paper attracted attention for other noted economists and Debreu was offered a position at Yale University.

In 1958, Debreu would offer forth an elaboration of this theory within the pages of his most famous book, “Theory of Value: An Axiomatic Analysis of Economic Equilibrium,” a work that would prove itself over time as a seminal classic of modern economics. Later, between the years of 1960-1961, Debreu would work at Stanford’s Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences towards the development of a general theory within the economics of the existence of an economic equilibrium.

In 1962, Debreu was given a position at UC Berkeley where he would find a permanent placement along with the titles of University professor and Class of 1958 Professor of Economics and Mathematics Emeritus. In 1976, he received the French Legion of Honor award and in 1983, he received the Nobel Prize in Economics. He died in December 2004.

RELATED TERMS
  1. Riskless Society

    A fictional society in which the world markets become complete ...
  2. General Equilibrium Theory

    General equilibrium theory studies supply and demand fundamentals ...
  3. Competitive Equilibrium

    A competitive equilibrium is when profit-maximizing producers ...
  4. Equilibrium

    Equilibrium state in which market supply and demand balance each ...
  5. Douglass C. North

    An American economist and winner of the 1993 Nobel Memorial Prize ...
  6. Reinhard Selten

    An economist and mathematician who won the 1994 Nobel Memorial ...
Related Articles
  1. Insights

    Where Does the Nobel Prize Money Come From?

    The cash award associated with the Nobel Prize has changed in value considerably since the first awards in 1901. But where does it come from?
  2. Investing

    Seven Controversial Investing Theories

    Find out information about seven controversial investing theories that attempt to explain and influence the market as well as the actions of investors.
  3. Investing

    How influential economists changed our history

    Find out how these five groundbreaking thinkers made contributions to financial theory that crossed over into many aspects of social history as well.
  4. Insights

    American Economist Richard Thaler Wins Nobel Memorial Prize

    The University of Chicago's Richard Thaler has been recognized for his contributions to behavioral economics.
  5. Investing

    What is Deadweight Loss?

    Deadweight loss can be applied to any deficiency caused by an inefficient allocation of resources.
  6. Personal Finance

    Top Paying Math-Related Careers

    These jobs require specialized math skills that intimidate most laymen. But, for those with the wit and work ethic to attain this knowledge, there are many high-paying employment options.
  7. Insights

    Introduction to Supply and Demand

    Learn about one of the most fundamental concepts of economics - supply and demand - and how it relates to your daily purchases.
  8. Investing

    Interest Rate Predictions With Expectations Theory

    The expectations theory uses long-term interest rates to predict future short-term interest rates.
  9. Investing

    The difference between finance and economics

    Learn the differences between these closely related disciplines and how they inform and influence each other.
RELATED FAQS
  1. Why is game theory useful in business?

    The concepts of game theory became a revolutionary interdisciplinary phenomenon, but they are still relevant for business ... Read Answer >>
  2. Why are there no profits in a perfectly competitive market?

    See why economic profits are theoretically impossible in a perfectly competitive market and why some economists use perfect ... Read Answer >>
  3. Is demand or supply more important to the economy?

    Learn more about the impact of supply and demand in an economy. Find out why companies study supply and demand as part of ... Read Answer >>
  4. How do I differentiate between micro and macro economics?

    Differentiating between microeconomics and macroeconomics is primarily concerned with the difference of the scales of the ... Read Answer >>
Hot Definitions
  1. Inflation

    Inflation is the rate at which prices for goods and services is rising and the worth of currency is dropping.
  2. Discount Rate

    Discount rate is the interest rate charged to commercial banks and other depository institutions for loans received from ...
  3. Economies of Scale

    Economies of scale refer to reduced costs per unit that arise from increased total output of a product. For example, a larger ...
  4. Quick Ratio

    The quick ratio measures a company’s ability to meet its short-term obligations with its most liquid assets.
  5. Leverage

    Leverage results from using borrowed capital as a source of funding when investing to expand the firm's asset base and generate ...
  6. Financial Risk

    Financial risk is the possibility that shareholders will lose money when investing in a company if its cash flow fails to ...
Trading Center