Universität Bielefeld

Center for
Mathematical Economics

The History of the Center for Mathematical Economics

The Center for Mathematical Economics (Institut für Mathematische Wirtschaftsforschung, (IMW)) was founded on November 10th, 1970 through the constitution of its Kuratorium. It was the third scientific institution of the new Bielefeld University following only the Departments of Sociology and of Mathematics founded in 1969.


After a first Germany wide initiative to establish an international center for research in Mathematical Economics, the Kuratorium of the Volkswagenstiftung decided on June 6th, 1969 to establish such a center in Bielefeld. A Founding Board had its first constituting meeting on November 11th, 1969 and worked out a plan for the structure of the future center. In particular, the board selected the first Kuratorium. Among the members of the Kuratorium were famous economists, as for instance Martin Beckmann, Janos Kornai, Wilhelm Krelle, Edmond Malinvaud, James Mirrlees, René Roy and Reinhard Selten.


Already during its first meeting the Kuratorium decided on the two first professorships for the IMW, as it was called, namely Carl-Christian von Weizsäcker and Reinhard Selten. At the same time the Kuratorium declared Professor von Weizsäcker the first Managing Director of the new institution. After foundation of the Faculty of Economics of Bielefeld University on November 28th, 1974, a discussion began about the future of the IMW that led to the decision to create two new positions (one for a full professor, one for an associate professor) and to inject these professorships into the IMW. These positions were offered to Professor Joachim Rosenmüller and Wulf Albers, respectively, who joined the IMW in 1978.

selten_2On October 24th, 1979 the Academic Senate of Bielefeld University decided to bestow upon the IMW the status of a scientific institution of supraregional and international character under the responsibility of the Faculty of Economics and the participation of the Faculty of Mathematics with its own budgetary responsibility. Reinhard Selten remained the Managing Director of the newly institutionalized IMW that received its own constitution (Satzung) published on November 30th, 1979.


In October 1984 Reinhard Selten accepted an offer from the University of Bonn and left Bielefeld and the IMW.  Joachim Rosenmüller took over as director. Walter Trockel, after visiting IMW from Bonn for one academic year, followed Reinhard Selten on his chair in September 1985. Under the initiative and lead of the  Center for Mathematical Economics the Departments of Mathematics and of Economics started the new Diplom curriculum "Mathematics of Economics" (Wirtschaftsmathematik)  in the winter term 1988/89. In 1989, the Center for Mathematical Economics and the Faculty of Economics awarded Reinhard Selten an honorary doctorate, anticipating his future Nobel Prize by 5 years. The welcome address by Walter Trockel and the laudatio by Joachim Rosenmüller are documented here.

In 1990, the Center for Mathematical Economics became a so-called central scientific institution, controlled only by the Academic Senate and independent of departments. This central institution was established for a period of seven years with the option of confirmation in case of support by two thirds of the members of the Academic Senate.

In October 1991 the IMW established a Research Training Group "Mathematical Economics" funded by the German Research Foundation in cooperation with economic theorists from the Economics Department that lasted for the maximal possible time period of nine years. Its spokesman was Professor Joachim Rosenmüller.


In 2002, Walter Trockel became Managing Director of the Center. In 2004, Herbert Dawid became in addition a full member.

On April 1st, 2005 the International Research Training Group "Economic Behavior and Interaction Models" in cooperation with the Doctoral School of University Paris 1 Panthéon–Sorbonne financed by the German Research Association (DFG) and the German–French University (DFH) became the second Research Training group organized by the IMW with Walter Trockel and Herbert Dawid as spokesman and vice-spokesman. Through the participation of Herbert Dawid and Walter Trockel the IMW played also a significant role in the International Graduate School "Stochastics and Real World Models" at the Department of Mathematics jointly with the Academy of Science of China in Bejing that started in January 2006. Since the winter term 2006/2007, the Center runs a joint Erasmus Mundus Master program on "Models and Methods of Quantitative Economics" (QEM) of the universities Bielefeld, Autònoma de Barcelona, Ca’ Foscari di Venezia and Paris 1 Panthéon–Sorbonne.


In 2007, Frank Riedel, Professor at the University of Bonn, followed Joachim Rosenmüller, who had retired in 2006 on his chair at the IMW as a full professor. Via a new joint project of Frank Riedel with Gerhard Jäger from the department of linguistics the IMW will participate in the DFG-Sonderforschungsbereich "Alignment in Communication" (SFB 673) that started at Bielefeld University in July 2006.

In addition to this collaborative research center, Frank Riedel initiated several interdisciplinary projects with the biology, sociology and sports department. From these departments, two professors are associated to the IMW: Prof. Jäger (Linguistics) and Prof. Mühlheußer (Sport Economics). Furthermore, from the math department, Prof. Kaßmann.

The main goal by 2007 was to ensure the prolongation of the IMW and hence several measures had to be taken. In 2011 Christoph Kuzmics, professor at Northwestern University, followed Prof. Trockel, the former director of the IMW. Since 2012, the IMW is staffed by three full professors. Furthermore there are currently four Assistant Professors, complemented by a number of researchers and several postdocs.


A new doctoral program was established at the IMW: European Doctorate in Economics Erasmus Mundus (EDE-EM), which is composed of seven European institutions and coordinated by the University of Paris 1, France. 22 doctoral students currently complete the scientific staff at the IMW.

On the undergraduate level, in 2011 the Erasmus Mundus Master (QEM) was prolonged and in 2012, the IMW started a new Research Master of Science in Quantitative Economics (QE). In addition to the Master of Science Wirtschaftsmathematik, the IMW is now strongly involved in two master programs.

Furthermore, the IMW has not only increased its staff but also its reputation in the scientific society. It is currently featured on several Editorial Boards, among others the top-field journals “Games and Economic Behavior”, “Finance and Stochastics”, and "Economic Theory". Two scientific journals are edited at the Center: Herbert Dawid is one of the editors of the “Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control”, and Frank Riedel edits “Mathematics and Financial Economics”.