University at Kingston

Gerard Debreu

Gerard Debreu was born in Calais, France in 1921 and studied mathematics in his youth, graduating from the University of Paris in 1946. He was a member of the irreverent 'Bourbaki' group in France in the early postwar period, a set of young French mathematicians who set about reconstructing the logical foundations of mathematics, publishing all their works jointly under the name of a non-existing genius called 'Henri Bourbaki'. In 1948, he came to the USA on a Rockefeller Foundation Fellowship and in 1950 he joined the Cowles Commission at the University of Chicago [see Marschak, J.]. He began to collaborate with Kenneth Arrow and together they published an epoch-making paper, 'Existence of an Equilibrium for a Competitive Economy' ( 1954), in which they provided a definitive mathematical proof of the existence of general equilibrium, using topological methods hitherto unknown in economics. .39


© Mark Blaug, Great Economists Before Keynes: An Introduction to the Lives and Works of One Hundread Great Economists of the Past , Brighton: Wheatsheaf, 1986. In Stauffer Library: HB76 .B62 1986t