A leading global expert in mechanism design—an innovative area of game theory that brings together economics, engineering, and computer science—has been named the University’s 15th Penn Integrates Knowledge Professor.
Rakesh Vohra will be the George A. Weiss and Lydia Bravo Weiss University Professor, and his appointment will be shared between the Department of Economics in the School of Arts & Sciences and the Department of Electrical and Systems Engineering in the School of Engineering and Applied Science.
“Rakesh Vohra is the ideal candidate for a Penn Integrates Knowledge professorship,” Gutmann says. “He is a world-renowned scholar at the intersection of economics and engineering. His cutting-edge research in mechanism design, game theory, auction theory, and combinatorial optimization bridges not only two intellectually distant disciplines but theory and practice.”
Vohra’s economics research in mechanism design focuses on the best ways to allocate scarce resources when the information required to make the allocation is dispersed and privately held, an increasingly common condition in present-day environments. His work has been critical to the development of game, auction, and pricing theory—for example, the keyword auctions central to online search engines—and spans such areas as operations research, market systems, and optimal pricing mechanisms.
In addition to more than 70 articles and working papers, he is co-author of “Principles of Pricing,” and author of “Mechanism Design” and “Advanced Mathematical Economics.”
“Rakesh Vohra is doing pathbreaking research across distinct yet integrally related fields,” Price says. “The impact of his work exemplifies the power of integrating knowledge to address the most vital contemporary issues. We are especially excited about his potential to advance our Singh Program in Networked and Social Systems Engineering, which is building a strong foundation at Penn for interdisciplinary work in economics and engineering.”
Gutmann launched the Penn Integrates Knowledge program in 2005 as a University-wide initiative to recruit exceptional faculty members whose research and teaching exemplify the integration of knowledge across disciplines. Each professor is jointly appointed between two schools at Penn.
Vohra has taught since 1998 at Northwestern University, where he is the John L. and Helen Kellogg Professor of Managerial Economics and Decision Sciences in the Kellogg School of Management, with additional appointments in the Department of Economics and the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. He taught from 1985 to 1998 in the Fisher College of Business at Ohio State University. He earned a Ph.D. in mathematics in 1985 from the University of Maryland, an M.Sc. in operational research in 1981 from the London School of Economics, and a B.Sc. (Hon.) in mathematics in 1980 from University College London.
The George A. Weiss and Lydia Bravo Weiss University Professorship is a gift of George A. Weiss, a 1965 graduate of the Wharton School. Weiss is an emeritus trustee of the University, former chair of Making History: The Campaign for Penn, a member-elect of the Executive Committee of Penn Medicine and a member of the Athletics Board of Overseers. He is president of George Weiss Associates Inc., the money management firm he founded in 1978, and CEO of Weiss Multi-Strategy Advisors LLC.