Tag Archives: research

Young Researcher Prefers Game Theory to Video Games

Post contributed by Elizabeth Dunn, Research Services Librarian

The Rubenstein Library’s Economists’ Papers Archive attracts numerous scholars from around the globe. This summer, it has also attracted one very special scholar: rising eighth grader Benjamin Knight. Nearly every day, he has been a quiet presence in our reading room, working his way diligently through boxes of our Oskar Morgenstern Papers.

Although we often welcome even very small children whose families make a pilgrimage to see our first edition Book of Mormon, Benjamin is the youngest serious researcher anyone can remember. Those of us on the Research Services staff found his interest in this important Austrian American economist intriguing. He was kind enough to take time out of his work to grant me an interview.

Photo of Benjamin Knight working with a box from the Oscar Morgenstern papers in the Rubenstein Library reading room.
Benjamin Knight in the Rubenstein Library reading room.
Photo by Elizabeth Dunn.

Asked how he became interested in Morgenstern, Benjamin replied that he had read an article about Von Neumann and Morgenstern. (The two economists overlapped at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton from 1938 until 1954. Morgenstern, an economist trained at the University of Vienna and influenced by Carl Menger, was grappling with the challenges of economic prediction. He knew John Von Neumann’s 1928 paper on the theory of games and the two collaborated on their influential 1944 book, Theory of Games and Economic Behavior.1) Benjamin was pleased to discover that we hold the Morgenstern Papers, and is using them to tease out the sources of Morgenstern’s key ideas: the University of Vienna or Princeton. More generally, he is interested in the application of game theory to the analysis of social interactions and political decision-making. Some of the Morgenstern documents are hand-written in German. Asked whether those were challenging, Benjamin replied that the handwriting is a little problematic, but translating the German, which he has never studied, is more difficult.

Benjamin has many other interests besides game theory. He represented Brazil (and, with partner Claire Thananopavarn, won Best Delegation) in the Eighth Annual Chapel Hill-Carrboro Middle School Model United Nations Conference in April. He was part of the Smith team at this year’s Middle School National Academic Quiz Championship Tournament and placed among the top twenty-five competitors in the 2017 Wake Technical Community College Regional State Math Contest. When not competing, Benjamin enjoys reading fiction, history, and politics.

Benjamin comes by his interest in social and political analysis naturally. His mother, cultural anthropologist Margaret “Lou” Brown, is Senior Research Scholar and Director of Programs at Duke University’s Forum for Scholars and Publics. His father Jack Knight is Frederic Cleaveland Professor of Law and Political Science and holds a joint appointment in Duke’s School of Law and Trinity College of Arts and Sciences. Benjamin has not yet decided on a particular career path, but all of us in the Rubenstein are happy that he found us and look forward to following his continued successes.

Notes:

  1. New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics

Congratulations to our 2015 Middlesworth Award Winner!

We are pleased to announce this year’s winner of the Middlesworth Award!

rbmscl-researchThe Middlesworth Award is given annually in recognition of students whose research makes use of the primary sources and rare materials held in the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library. Funding for the awards has been provided by Chester P. Middlesworth (A.B., 1949) of Statesville, North Carolina.

This year’s winner is Michael Sotsky (’15) for “The Fight to End ‘Legalized Lynching’: The Civil Rights Congress’s Rise and Fall in the Southern United States in the Post World War II Era.” He wrote this paper as an independent study under Dr. Nancy MacLean. Sotsky’s primary sources included material on the Civil Rights Congress in the J.B. Matthews Papers and The Daily Worker from the American Newspaper Repository Collection.

We will be celebrating Sotsky and the winners of the library’s other writing and research prizes at an awards reception on Friday, October 30 from 3:30-4:30 in the Holsti-Anderson Family Assembly Room. All are invited for refreshments and the opportunity to honor the recipients.

Milwaukee, Hawaii, Italy: Our Global Users

The unique collections held in special collections libraries attract researchers from all over the map, no matter if the map is local, national, or global. Those of us who work in special collections have always known this, and we frequently jabber about it to anyone who will listen. But we can’t often show it.

Recently, library staff at Duke’s Rubenstein Library, UNC Chapel Hill’s Wilson Library, and NCSU’s Special Collections Research Center combined the data we’ve collected in order to create some maps showing the home cities, states, and countries of our users from calendar year 2013. Special collections staff gathered this data, but it was Duke’s terrific data visualization coordinator Angela Zoss who used Tableau to create these excellent maps for us. Thanks Angela!

The data we gathered shows onsite users of the Duke and UNC Chapel Hill special collections libraries. That is, the blue and green shown on the maps represent researchers who visited our reading rooms to use our collections in-house. The red shown on the maps shows something slightly different – both onsite users and users who made use of NCSU collections remotely (through email reference, etc.).

Among other interesting points, the North Carolina map shows that – outside of the Triangle – the majority of North Carolina researchers are using UNC Chapel Hill’s Wilson Library. This makes sense, since they have the North Carolina Collection! [Note: the pie charts sit over zipcodes.]

 

NC_map
Click to enlarge

The US map makes clear what we all probably suspected – that most of our researchers come from east of the Mississippi and are clustered in the Northeast. Only Duke shows researchers from Utah, and this doesn’t surprise us. Duke holds two copies of the first edition of the Book of Mormon, and many visitors come to Duke each year to see them (the two copies were used a total of 33 times this past year).

 

US_map
Click to enlarge

The global map shows that each of us – NCSU, UNC Chapel Hill, and Duke – had researchers from Canada, the UK, and Japan. UNC Chapel Hill welcomed visitors from China and Japan. Many international researchers came to Duke to use collections such as our economists’ papers. But only NCSU had a user from Bosnia-Herzegovinia!

 

Internation_map
Click to enlarge

While we’ve only just begun to share our data with each other, this mapping project demonstrates that, taken together, the special collections libraries at NCSU, UNC Chapel Hill, and Duke have truly global reach and impact. Our collections are diverse and exciting, and the world knows it!

Post contributed by David Pavelich, Head of Research Services