Maurice F. C. Allais

May 31, 1911 – October 9, 2010

Brief Biography

Born to the owners of a small, Parisian cheese shop, Maurice Felix Charles Allais was a Nobel Prize-winning economist. Allais, whose father had died in a German prison camp during World War I, attended secondary school south of Paris in Sceaux. Though fascinated by history, he was pressured by his mathematics instructor to study engineering at the prestigious Ecole Polytechnique, receiving a masters degree in 1933. Like the other top students in his graduating class, Allais joined the Corps National des Mines after a mandatory year of military training and service.

At age twenty six, Allais was in charge of the Nantes Mines and Quarries Service. In 1939, he was called to the Alpine Army on the French-Italian board and was assigned command of a heavy artillery battery. His military career was short live, however, given his release from service after the armistice of June 10, 1940. Allais returned to his job in Nantes, working his way up to Director of le Bureau of Mines Documentation and Statistics in Paris. In 1944, he joined Ecole National Superieure des Mines as Professor of Economics, where he remained until his death. In the late 1940s, he also began his long tenure as Director of the Economic Analysis Centre at the National Centre for Scientific Research (NCSR).

Following the Second World War until the official formation of the European Economic Community in 1958, Allais played an active role in many international conferences that aimed to establish a single European economic zone. He was also a proponent for the growth and continuation of cross-Atlantic cohesion, serving as rapporteur at an international NATO conference held in Washington, DC.

In 1957, Allais was jointly awarded the Frederick W. Lanchester Prize for best publication in operations research. His Management Science article, “Method of appraising economic prospects of mining exploration over large territories: Algerian Sahara case study,” was heralded as an outstanding example of quantitative analysis used as a reasonable basis for an actual management decision. The prize committee lauded the broadness of its scope and the imaginative use of standard techniques.

Among his many other professional and academic appointments, Allais was Professor of Theoretical Economics at the University of Paris, Member of the National Committee of NCSR, Professor of Economics and the Graduate Institute of International Studies in Geneva, and Chairman of the European Economic Community’s Commission of Experts for the Study of Options in Transport Tariff Policy. In 1978, he received the most distinguished honor in French Science, the Gold Medal of the NCSR. 

For a sizable portion of his life, much of Allais’s research received little recognition outside of France. It was therefore a delightful surprise when he became the first Frenchman to receive the 1988 Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel.  Allais was internationally celebrated “for his pioneering contributions to the theory of markets and efficient utilization of resources.” Never losing his passion for history, Allais published a number of works on the rise and fall of civilizations from an economic perspective. He passed away at ninety-nine years old.

Other Biographies

Wikipedia Entry for Maurice Allais

(2008) Maurice Allais. Henderson D., ed. in The Concise Encyclopedia of Economics. Library of Economics and Liberty. (link)

The Famous People. Profiles: Maurice Allais. Accessed May 30, 2015. (link)


Ecole Polytechnique, MEng 1933

University of Paris, DEng 1949


Academic Affiliations
  • Ecole Polytechnique
  • Ecole Nationale Superieure des Mines 
  • Graduate Institute of International Studies, Geneva
  • University of Paris
Non-Academic Affiliations
  • French Alpine Army
  • Bureau of Mines Documentation and Statistics
  • National Centre for Scientific Research

Key Interests in OR/MS

Application Areas

Memoirs and Autobiographies


Nobel Prize. Nobel Prizes and Laureates: Maurice Allais - Curriculum Vitae. Accessed May 30, 2015. (link)


Nobel Prize. Nobel Prizes and Laureates: Maurice Allais - Biographical. Accessed May 30, 2015. (link)


International Statistical Institute. Member Obituaries: Maurice Allais. Accessed May 30, 2015. (link

New York Times (2010) Maurice Allais, Nobel Winner, Dies at 99. October 11. A29. (link)

Awards and Honors

International Econometric Society Fellow 1949

International Statistical Institute Member 1951

Frederick W. Lanchester Prize 1957

French National Centre for Scientific Research Gold Medal 1978

The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel 1988 

Selected Publications

Allais M. F. C. (1957) Method of appraising economic prospects of mining exploration over large territories: Algerian Sahara case study. Management Science, 3(4): 285-347.

Allais M. (1962) The influence of the capital-output ratio on real national income. Econometrica: Journal of the Econometric Society, 30(4): 700-728.

Allais M. F. C. (1966) A restatement of the quantity theory of money. The American Economic Review, 56(5): 1123-1157.

Allais M. F. C. & Hagen O. (1979) Expected Utility Hypotheses and the Allais Paradox. Springer Netherlands: Amsterdam.

Allais M. F. C. (1983) Frequency, probability, and chance. Stigum B. P. & Wenstop F., eds. in Foundations of Utility and Risk Theory with Applications, 35-86. Springer: New York.

Allais M. F. C. (1988) The general theory of random choices in relations to the invariant cardinal utility function and the specific probability function. The (U,θ) Model a general overview. Munier B. R., ed. in Risk, Decision and Rationality, 231-289. Springer: New York.

Allais M. F. C. (1990) Allais paradox. Eatwell K., Iewman P., & Milgate M., eds. in The New Palgrave: Utility and Probability, 3-9. Macmillan Press: New York.

Allais M. F. C. (1997) An outline of my main contributions to economic science. The American Economic Review, 87(1): 1-12.

Additional Resources

Ramrattan L. & Szenberg M. (2011) Maurice Allais: a review of his major works: a memoriam, 1911-2010. The American Economist, 57(1): 104.