Herbert Alexander Simon (June 15, 1916 – February 9, 2001) was an American political scientist, economist, sociologist, psychologist, and professor—most notably at Carnegie Mellon University—whose research ranged across the fields of cognitive psychology, cognitive science, computer science, public administration, economics, management, philosophy of science, sociology, and political science. With almost a thousand very highly-cited publications, he was one of the most influential social scientists of the twentieth century.
Simon was among the founding fathers of several of today’s important scientific domains, including artificial intelligence, information processing, decision-making, problem-solving, attention economics, organization theory, complex systems, and computer simulation of scientific discovery.
He coined the terms bounded rationality and satisficing, and was the first to analyze the architecture of complexity and to propose apreferential attachment mechanism to explain power law distributions.
He also received many top-level honors later in life. These include: becoming a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciencesin 1959; election to the National Academy of Sciences in 1967; the ACM‘s Turing Award for making “basic contributions to artificial intelligence, the psychology of human cognition, and list processing” (1975); the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics “for his pioneering research into the decision-making process within economic organizations” (1978); the National Medal of Science (1986); and the APA‘s Award for Outstanding Lifetime Contributions to Psychology (1993).
As a testament to his interdisciplinary approach, Simon was affiliated with such varied Carnegie Mellon departments as the School of Computer Science, Tepper School of Business, departments of Philosophy, Social and Decision Sciences, and Psychology. Simon received an honorary Doctor of Political science degree from University of Pavia in 1988 and an honorary Doctor of Laws (LL.D.) degree from Harvard University in 1990.