Press Release

Austin Hoggatt, professor emeritus at the Haas School, dies at age 79

| 07 May 2009

Austin "Auggie" Hoggatt, professor emeritus at the University of California, Berkeley's Haas School of Business, died of congestive heart failure at his home on Wednesday, April 29. He was 79.

Hoggatt's research and consulting spanned a wide range of fields, including computer simulations, experimental economics, management science, and savings and loans.

Hoggatt was born on Aug. 31,1929, in Snyder, New York. The only child of Violet Soppe and Gilbert A. Hoggatt, he spent his childhood years in Winnetka, Ill.. Stricken by polio at age 14, Hoggatt spent his life challenging himself physically and intellectually, according to his family.

Before joining the business school at UC Berkeley in 1957, Hoggatt earned his Ph.D. at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, writing what his family said was the first thesis in the United States that used simulations with a human-to-computer interface.

Hoggatt served as the director of UC Berkeley's Computer Center from 1961-62. At the business school, he co-founded the Management Science Laboratory with Professor Fred Balderston in 1968 and served as its chairman. Haas School Professor Thomas Marschak said the lab, which was funded by the National Science Foundation, was the first to run computer simulations in game theory and experimental economics with human-to-computer interface.

In 1968, Hoggatt was elected to be a fellow at the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He was also a member of the Institute of Management Sciences and of the TIMS College on Simulation and Gaming.

"He was a pioneer in computing even before the field of computer science had emerged," said Marschak, who remembered Hoggatt collaborating with German Nobel Laureate Reinhard Selten on experimental economics and with faculty colleagues Julian Feldman and Edward Albert Feigenbaum, who went on to do groundbreaking research in artificial intelligence.

Hoggatt and Balderston co-authored an influential book, "Simulation of Market Processes," that was based on computer simulations they had conducted on the lumber industry. "The book was a breakthrough because this kind of analysis of an entire industry was not possible before the advent of computers," said Marschak.

In 1972, Hoggatt was invited by former UC Berkeley Professor John Holdren, currently President Obama's adviser on science and technology, to help launch the campus's Energy & Resources Group, an interdisciplinary program, to foster research and leadership in environmental resources and sustainability at UC Berkeley.

Hoggatt taught mathematics, statistics and quantitive methods to students at all levels, from undergraduates to those pursuing Ph.Ds. "He was good at fostering talent," said his daughter, Tina Hoggatt, who recalled her father hosting wine and cheese parties for his graduate students. "He really believed in his students."

"He was very good at questioning our understanding and making sure we had a thorough knowledge of each lecture," said Tom McCullough, one of Hoggatt's former students. McCullough said Hoggatt was instrumental in attracting him to the Ph.D. program at the business school and that, after becoming a teacher himself at the Haas School, he often looked up his old notes from Hoggatt's class to pick out many of the questions he should ask his students.

Before retiring from the Haas School in 1991, Hoggatt held appointments as a visiting professor at the Universidad de Chile, Stanford University and the University of Bielefeld, Germany, and as an exchange scholar at Krakow University in Poland.

His Poland experience sparked an idea for an affordable flow meter to improve energy efficiency in steam-heated buildings. He continued to work on the idea until his death.

"He also was a fantastic sailor, beautiful woodworker and cabinetmaker, and he was musical, playing flamenco guitar and piano," said Tina Hoggatt. "He was very creative." Austin Hoggatt also participated in the Seminar on the Redistribution of Wealth, a group of UC Berkeley faculty who met regularly for poker games.

Hoggatt is survived by his wife of 57 years, Patricia Jane Lynn, with whom he raised five daughters - Lynn, Tina, Karen (deceased), Dawn and Wendy.

A celebration of Hoggatt's life will be held on Saturday, May 9, at 2:00 p.m. at Montclair Presbyterian Church, 5701 Thornhill Drive in Oakland.

Donations may be made to The Bear Fellowship at the Energy & Resources Group, University of California, Berkeley,, (510) 642-1640.