About Tapan Mitra
Tapan Mitra, Goldwin Smith Professor of Economics at Cornell University, passed away in Ithaca on February 3, 2019. Born in 1948 in Calcutta (now Kolkata), India, he studied at Presidency College and the Delhi School of Economics before entering the University of Rochester as a Ph.D. student. Prior to joining Cornell in 1981, he taught at the University of Illinois at Chicago Circle and the State University of New York at Stony Brook. Tapan Mitra was on the Editorial Board of Economic Theory and of the International Journal of Economic Theory at their inception and was a Fellow of the Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET). He was also a Fellow of the Econometric Society, and had held a Sloan Fellowship.
A prolific researcher, Mitra was duly acknowledged as a leading economic theorist of his generation. His definitive and pioneering contributions to the efficiency and equity of inter-temporal allocation of resources gave a shape and cast to capital theory and to economic dynamics that will surely stand the test of time. Committed to the highest standards of scholarship, of precision and rigour, and blessed with rare analytical power, his touch enriched many subjects: chaotic dynamics, renewable and exhaustible resources, their sustainability and extinction, choice of technique in development planning, forestry economics, and undoubtedly others. He investigated convex and non-convex environments, with or without discounting, and whereas he did not neglect continuous-time dynamics, the setting of discrete-time was his favourite and formidable forte. Acutely sensitive to the role of prices on allocation and decentralization, he showed no hesitance in working on challenging problems that he regarded as fundamental, irrespective of their current professional popularity. A craftsman of the highest degree, a mathematical economist’s economist, his striking and decisive examples had as much an impact on serious economic scholarship as did his theorems and his proofs. To repeat, his pen unified the literature, opened up new directions and invariably redefined the state of the art.
In all of his pursuits, Tapan Mitra displayed an uncommon level of grace, kindness, and sincerity, with a never-failing emphasis on the positive. His sixtieth birthday was celebrated in a conference at Cornell, the proceedings of which were published in the International Journal of Economic Theory in 2010. His loss is a loss not only to his students and his co-authors, the line between the two not always clear in this case, but surely also to substantive and advanced economic theory. The authors of this obituary mourn, undoubtedly with many others, the passing of a friend and an example. As one poet said of another,
Thou in our wonder and astonishment
Hast built thyself a live-long monument
— M. Ali Khan, Abram Hutzler Professor of Political Economy, Johns Hopkins University
Mukul Majumdar, H.T. Warshow and Robert Irving Warshow Professor of Economics Emeritus, Cornell Unversity
Leading economic theorist Tapan Mitra dies at age 70 | Cornell Chronicle
Tapan Mitra, the Goldwin Smith Professor of Economics and a leading economic theorist of his generation, died of cancer Feb. 3 in Ithaca, New York. He was 70.
Mitra wrote or edited more than 150 publications in economic theory and applied mathematics. A prolific researcher, Mitra made definitive, pioneering contributions to the efficiency and equity of intertemporal allocation of resources, capital theory and economic dynamics.
He joined Cornell’s faculty in 1981 and was appointed Goldwin Smith Professor of Economics in 2007.
Mitra worked in several other areas, including: chaotic dynamics; renewable and exhaustible resources, their sustainability and extinction; choice of technique in development planning; and forestry economics.
In an obituary prepared for The Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory, Mukul Majumdar, the H.T. Warshow and Robert Irving Warshow Professor of Economics and Mitra’s cousin, and M. Ali Khan, the Abram Hutzler Professor of Political Economy at Johns Hopkins University, wrote that Mitra was “a craftsman of the highest degree, a mathematical economist’s economist, his striking and decisive examples had as much an impact on serious economic scholarship as did his theorems and his proofs. To repeat, his pen unified the literature, opened up new directions and invariably redefined the state of the art.”
To celebrate Mitra’s 60th birthday, colleagues participated in an economic theory conference at Cornell in July 2008. The proceedings were published in March 2010 as a special issue of the International Journal of Economic Theory, dedicated to Mitra and focusing on growth, sustainability and equilibria.
“Tapan was one of the world’s finest mathematical economists,” said Kaushik Basu, professor of economics and Carl Marks Professor of International Studies. “What many do not know, and what I discovered during my several years of research collaboration with him, was his mind of total clarity. This enabled him to do economics from scratch, in a way that even school kids could follow, all the way to plumb the intricacies of our economic world.”
In addition to his academic work, Mitra chaired the Department of Economics twice – 1993-98 and 1999-2002 – and directed graduate studies in the field of economics 2005-10.
“This is an extraordinary service record, especially given the large volume of important research he published over this time period,” said Michael Lovenheim, the Donald C. Opatrny ’74 Chair of the Department of Economics.
As chair, Mitra was instrumental in recruiting many of the most prominent economists in the department.
“He was a true institution-builder and was one of the main architects of the current Cornell economics community. His imprint is still highly present in the shape and character of the economics department,” Lovenheim said, noting Mitra’s graduate students rank among the most prominent economists to have received their doctorates from Cornell.
Mitra’s honors included the award of an Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship 1981-83. In 2017, he was elected a fellow of the Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory. He was also a fellow of the Econometric Society.
He was on the inaugural editorial boards of the journal Economic Theory and of the International Journal of Economic Theory. He also served on the editorial boards of Zeitschrift für Nationalökonomie (Journal of Economics), Contemporary Issues and Ideas in Social Sciences, and Environmental Economics and Policy Studies.
While battling cancer for the last decade, Mitra continued his research and published in his field’s leading journals. In 2018, his colleagues and collaborators from around the world gathered in Ithaca to celebrate his 70th birthday.
Mitra was born in 1948 in Kolkata, India. He earned a bachelor’s in economics with honors from Calcutta University in 1968 and a master’s in economics from Delhi University in 1970. At the University of Rochester, he earned a master’s in economics in 1973 and a Ph.D., also in economics, in 1975. Before coming to Cornell, he taught at the University of Rochester, the University of Illinois, Chicago, and the State University of New York, Stony Brook.
Toward the end of his career, he established the Tapan Mitra prizes for graduate and undergraduate research, he said, as a “concrete expression of my continuing attachment to this great institution of learning.”
“His loss is a loss not only to his students and his co-authors – the line between the two not always clear in this case – but surely also to substantive and advanced economic theory,” Majumdar and Khan wrote.
A memorial service will be held at Cornell in the spring.
Read on Cornell Chronicle
Tapan Mitra Obituary (1948 - 2019) - Ithaca Journal
Ithaca - Cornell University Economics Professor Tapan Mitra passed away peacefully in Ithaca on February 3, 2019, at the age of 70. Mukul, Malabika, Aveek and Jenni Majumdar, his family in Ithaca, were with him at the time. Born in 1948 in India to Ashok and Santi Mitra, he was educated at St. Xavier's High School, Bombay and Rajkumar College, Raipur. He studied at Presidency College, Calcutta University and Delhi University in India, and completed his Ph.D. at the University of Rochester. Early in his career, he taught at the University of Illinois at Chicago and the State University of New York at Stony Brook. He joined Cornell's faculty in 1981. In recognition of his academic achievements and his services to the university, he was appointed Goldwin Smith Professor of Economics in 2007.
A leading mathematical economist of his generation, he co-authored and edited over 150 publications in economic theory and applied mathematics. He taught and mentored numerous students. He was awarded a Sloan Fellowship and was elected a Fellow of the Econometric Society. Distinguished economists participated in a conference at Cornell to celebrate his 60th birthday; the proceedings were published as a Special Issue of the International Journal of Economic Theory dedicated to him.
In addition to his substantial scholarly accomplishments, Professor Mitra loved the outdoors and the beautiful surroundings of Ithaca. He liked gardening and fishing, and he cared deeply for animals, birds, and nature. He was a film buff, a voracious reader, and he pursued deep interests driven by his curiosity of the world and people around him. He generously supported many of his interests through his philanthropy.
During the last decade of his life, he courageously battled cancer. Despite his illness, he continued his research and published in his field's leading journals. Two years ago, he was elected a Fellow of the Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory. Last year, his colleagues and collaborators from around the world gathered in Ithaca to celebrate his 70th birthday. He was grateful to the staff at Cayuga Medical Center, Memorial Sloan Kettering, and Hospicare for providing him with care and support throughout this time.
He is survived by his brothers, Gautam (Judy Massare) of Rochester, NY, Shankar (Aparna) of Plano, TX, and Udayan of Delhi, India, and many cousins, nieces, and nephews.
In all of his pursuits, he displayed an uncommon level of grace, kindness, and sincerity. He leaves behind an international network of friends, family, colleagues, and students whom he loved, and who loved him in return. He will be dearly missed.
His family will host a gathering in Ithaca on February 16, and a memorial service will be held at Cornell in the spring with more details to follow. Donations in his memory can be made to the SPCA of Tompkins County.
Read on Ithaca Journal