David Gale

December 13, 1912 – March 7, 2008

Brief Biography

Born in Manhattan, David Gale grew up in and around New York City. He earned degrees from Swarthmore College and the University of Michigan prior to pursuing a doctorate at Princeton University. Gale complete his dissertation, Solutions of Finite Two-Person Games, under the supervision of Albert W. Tucker and received his PhD in 1949. Gale spent another year at Princeton before moving first to Brown University and, finally, the University of California at Berkeley. At Cal Berkeley and Brown, Gale graduated fourteen PhD students, including Bernard Koopman-prize winner Katta G. Murty.

Gale’s contributions to game theory and mathematical economics were consistent over a career spanning nearly six decades. He, along with Tucker and fellow Princeton mathematician Harold Kuhn, first proved the duality theorem of linear programming that relates the solution to primal and dual problems in 1951. The trio used Hungarian mathematician Julius Farkas’ 1902 theorem for their proof. In 1953, Gale and F. M. Stewart initiated the study of infinite games with perfect logic, significantly enhancing the study of mathematical logic.

In 1960, Gale published The Theory of Linear Economic Models, bringing together his fundamental developments of linear programming and linear inequalities. The book was lauded for its collections of problems at the end of each chapter that were more than simple exercises but rather substantial theorems that greatly enhanced the text’s content. Fifty-five years after its original publication, Gale’s piece continues to be a standard reference and guide in the field.

Gale received a number of prizes and honors in his lifetime. In 1980, he was awarded both the Lester R. Ford Prize by the Mathematical Association of America and the John von Neumann Theory Prize. Gale was honored for his seminal role in laying the foundations of game theory, linear, and non-linear programming with Tucker and Kuhn. His research was celebrated for its mathematical elegance and the wide range it covered. In addition to those awards, Gale was an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences and a Fellow of the Econometric Society, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences.

An avid lover of puzzles, skiing, tennis, and jazz, Gale was described by Kenneth J. Arrow as an individual who brought “intellectual depth, originality of insight, and thoroughly liveliness” to his work. After his death at age eighty-six, the journal Games and Economic Behavior published a special issue in Gale’s honor. The publication included memories of his influence on leading game theorists and operations researchers such as John Nash of Princeton, Richard Karp of Cal Berkeley, and Herbert Scarf of Yale. 

Other Biographies

Wikipedia Entry for David Gale

University of St. Andrews School of Mathematical and Computer Sciences. Gale Biography. Accessed June 1, 2015. (link)


Swarthmore College, BA 1943

University of Michigan, MA 1947

Princeton University, PhD 1949 (Mathematics Genealogy)


Academic Affiliations
Non-Academic Affiliations

Key Interests in OR/MS



San Francisco Chronicle (2008) UC mathematician David Gale dies at 86. March 25. (link)

UC Berkeley News. Mathematical, puzzle love David Gale has died. Published March 18, 2008. Accessed June 1, 2015. (link)

University of California Senate. In Memoriam: David Gale. Accessed June 29, 2018. (link)

Awards and Honors

Econometric Society Fellow 1965

American Academy of Arts and Sciences Fellow 1978

Lester R. Ford Prize 1980

John von Neumann Theory Prize 1980

National Academy of Sciences 1983

Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences Fellow 2002

Selected Publications

Gale D., Kuhn H. W., & Tucker A. W. (1951) Linear programming and the theory of games. Koopmans T. C., ed. in Activity Analysis of Production and Allocation, 317-335. Wiley & Sons: New York.

Gale D. & Stewart F. M. (1953) Infinite games with perfect information. Arrow K. J., ed. in Contributions to the Theory of Games, Volume 2, 245-266. Princeton University Press: Princeton, NJ.

Gale D. (1957) A theorem on flows in networks. Pacific Journal of Mathematics, 7(2): 1073-1082.

Gale D. (1960) The Theory of Linear Economic Models. University of Chicago Press: Chicago.

Gale D. & Shapley L. S. (1962) College admissions and the stability of marriage. American Mathematical Monthly, 69(1): 9-15.

Gale D. & Nikaido H. (1965) The Jacobian matrix and global univalence of mappings. Mathematische Analen, 159(2): 81-93.

Gale D. (1967) On optimal development in a multi-sector economics. The Review of Economic Studies, 34(1): 1-18.

Gale D. (1973) Pure exchange equilibrium of dynamic economic models. Journal of Economic Theory, 6(1): 12-36.

Demange G., Gale D., & Sotomayor M. (1986) Multi-item auctions. The Journal of Political Economy, 96(4): 863-872.

Additional Resources

(2009) Special Section in Honor of David Gale. Games and Economic Behavior, 66(2): 581-1004. (link)

Gilbert S. M. (2009) Four poems from When She was Kissed by the Mathematician. The Mathematical Intelligencer, 31(1): 18-20. (link)