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March 01, 2005

Duncan Luce


Duncan Luce 02.jpg

R. Duncan Luce is a Distinguished Research Professor of Cognitive Science and Economics at UC Irvine. At the age of 79 Luce, in recognition of his work in the behavioral and social sciences, has been named one of eight U.S. scientists and engineers to receive the 2003 National Medal of Science; the highest scientific honor in the United States. On March 14, 2005 President George W. Bush will present them with the honor at the Whitehouse. Why it is awarded two years after 2003 is a mystery to us.

The National Medal of Science honors individuals both for pioneering and innovating scientific research that has led to a better understanding of the world, and for contributing to innovations and technologies that give the United States a global economic edge. The award was established in 1959 and is administered by the National Science Foundation.

Luce received his PhD in mathematics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1950. He feels there is an inherent link between math and psychology. "Given the fact that people manage to live together in a fairly reasonable way most of the time, there have to be behavioral regularities," he says. "Mathematical behavioral science attempts to formulate such regularities."

Professor Luce's contributions to mathematical psychology have had a great influence on how the field examines decision making and sensory psychology. Luce combines mathematical theory and experiments, in efforts to understand features of individual behavior and orientation to the world. His method includes the development of formal mathematical models that consequently contribute to the shaping of contemporary economics.

As a child, Duncan Luce liked painting pictures and was fascinated with airplanes. His parents swayed him against an artistic career and an astigmatism kept him from becoming a military pilot. But Luce has been flying high for years and continues to create new ideas in his field.- from Luce's homepage at UC Irvine.

Luce served as advisor to many successful graduate students, including Columbia University Center for the Decision Sciences Director, and past President of the Society for Judgment and Decision Making Elke Weber.


"The representational theory of measurement concerns the types of data that can be summarized in some numerical way. Much general theory has been developed (Foundations of Measurement, vols. 1,2,3, 1971, 1989, 1990, with D.M. Krantz, P Suppes, & A. Tversky) and still is being actively explored. Although some of my efforts lie in this general area, over the last seven years I have mostly been applying some of these ideas to individual decision making, where the numerical measures are called utility and subjective probability or weights. Recently I have been examining the kinds of behavioral laws that link riskless utility and risky utility. Accompanying the theoretical work is an empirical program in which these plausible behavioral properties are tested in computer-based, laboratory experiments. There are many tricky and interesting questions of how best to evaluate these properties. The results to date exhibit highly regular patterns that are nicely summarized by numerical models." -from Professor Luce's Homepage


(2000) Utility of Gains and Losses: Measurement-Theoretical and Experimental Approaches. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Association.

(1997) Choice, Decision, and Measurement: Essays in Honor of R. Duncan Luce

(1993) Sound & Hearing: A Conceptual Introduction. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.

(1991) Response Times: Their Role in Inferring Elementary Mental Organization: Oxford.

(1990) With D.H. Krantz, P. Suppes & A. Tversky. Foundations of Measurement, Vol. III, Academic Press.

Posted by DSN at March 1, 2005 10:04 PM