17 year old Magnus Carlsen won a chess game today and is probably now, unofficially, ranked #1 in the world. (World champion Anand lost and fell behind in rating points.) Here is an illuminating recent profile of Magnus. I believe Paul Samuelson is the closest to an economics prodigy we have had. He was thirty-two when his Foundations of Economic Analysis was published but I have heard that he wrote the book at a much earlier age (does anyone know the exact age?). He was probably one of the best economists in the world when he received his undergraduate degree at Chicago at the age of 20. Frank Ramsey is another example of an economics prodigy although he didn’t even think of himself as an economist per se. Can you think of other prodigies in mathematical economics? I attribute their scarcity to the relative aesthetic poverty of mathematical economics (for most people it’s not that fun or beautiful) rather than the need for complementary experience-acquired wisdom. Do you agree?
Addendum: Andrew Gelman considers statistics.