Risky Decisions: Choice, Chance and Classroom Calculations

  • 4/22/2013 | 7:30 PM – 8:30 PM
  • Location: Searles Science Building, Room 315
  • Event Type: Lecture

Risky Decisions: Choice, Chance and Classroom Calculations"Why didn't nature make brains better at estimating probabilities?" Daniel Goroff--Vice President of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and former professor, dean, and government official--examines what probability, decision theory, and behavioral economics can teach us about mathematics education and life. 

BIO: Daniel L. Goroff is Vice President and Program Director at the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, a philanthropy that makes grants supporting breakthrough science, technology, and economics. He is Professor Emeritus of Mathematics and Economics at Claremont's Harvey Mudd College, where he previously served as Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the Faculty.

Goroff earned his B.A.-M.A. degree in mathematics summa cum laude at Harvard as a Borden Scholar, an M.Phil. in economics at Cambridge University as a Churchill Scholar, a Masters in mathematical finance at Boston University, and a Ph.D. in mathematics at Princeton University as a Danforth Fellow.

Daniel Goroff's first faculty appointment was at Harvard University in 1983. During over two decades there, he rose to the rank of Professor of the Practice of Mathematics while also serving as Associate Director of the Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning, and as a Resident Tutor at Leverett House.

A 1988 Phi Beta Kappa Teaching Prize winner, Goroff taught courses for the mathematics, physics, history of science, economics, and continuing education programs at Harvard. He was also the founding director of a Masters Degree Program in "Mathematics for Teaching" offered through the Harvard Extension School. Beginning with the international distance education courses he developed using audiographics conferencing over twenty years ago, and continuing through his most recent online course called "Decisions, Games, and Negotiations," Goroff has been an educational innovator throughout his teaching career.

In pursuing his work on nonlinear systems, chaos, and decision theory, Daniel Goroff has held visiting positions at the Institut des Hautes Etudes Scientifiques in Paris, the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute in Berkeley, Bell Laboratories in New Jersey, and the Dibner Institute at MIT.

In 1994, Goroff was elected to a three-year term on the Board of Directors of the American Association for Higher Education (AAHE). During 1996-97, he was a Division Director at the National Research Council (NRC) in Washington, and during 1997-98, Goroff worked for the President's Science Advisor at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). That year he was named a "Young Leader of the Decade in Academia" by Change: The Magazine of Higher Education.

As Director of the Joint Policy Board for Mathematics (JPBM) from 1998 to 2001, Daniel Goroff was called to testify about educational and research priorities both by the House and again by the Senate during the 106th Congress. He also testified before the 109th Congress. A former Chair of the U.S. National Commission on Mathematics Instruction at the National Research Council (NRC), he was co-director of the Scientific and Engineering Workforce Project based at the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER). Goroff was a founding board member of the nonpartisan group "Scientists and Engineers for America" and is a member of the NRC's Board on International Scientific Organizations.

With his vacation and consulting time, Daniel Goroff works on nonprofit strategies and projects through the firm Anthony Knerr & Associates. Beginning in 2009, he has taught courses as Distinguished Visiting Professor of Mathematics at Columbia University's Teachers College. During 2010, Goroff served part time as Assistant Director for Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

This talk is the Cecil T. & Marion C. Holmes Mathematics Lecture sponsored by the Mathematics Department and the Computation in the Liberal Arts Colloquium (CLAC).