Courtesy of Cornell University, MIchael Wenye Li / Sun Photography Editor

Mitra Tapan passed away peacefully at age 70.

February 19, 2019

Cornell Professor, Pioneering Theorist Tapan Mitra Dies at Age 70

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Renowned economics professor and pioneering economic theorist Tapan Mitra, who had been a faculty member in the Cornell economics department since 1981 and was named a Goldwin Smith Professor of Economics in 2007, passed away Feb. 3..

Mitra died peacefully in his sleep at his Ithaca home after a decade-long battle with cancer, according to his obituary.

“Tapan was one of the world’s finest mathematical economists,” Prof. Kaushik Basu, economics, said in a University press release. “What many do not know, and what I discovered during my several years of research collaboration with him, was his mind of total clarity. This enabled him to do economics from scratch, in a way that even school kids could follow, all the way to plumb the intricacies of our economic world.”

Mitra was a leading scholar in the field of economic theory and applied mathematics, co-authoring and editing over 150 publications, the Ithaca Journal reported. His primary research interests included economic dynamics and the efficiency and equity of intertemporal allocation of resources, as well as capital theory.

In 2016, the celebrated professor established annual prizes in the Department of Economics with an endowment of $100,000, hoping to encourage “Cornell students to pursue academic influence” and “have a positive influence in … the experience of both current and future generations of students,” Mitra told the Cornell Chronicle — which is run by the University — at the time.

Mitra, who taught students for over 40 years, previously instructed ECON 3030: Intermediate Microeconomic Theory and ECON 6170: Intermediate Mathematical Economics.

Originally from India, Mitra studied at Presidency College, Calcutta University and Delhi University in India before receiving his Ph.D. at the University of Rochester. Prior to teaching at Cornell, Mitra also taught at the University of Illinois at Chicago and the State University of New York at Stonybrook, according to his C.V.

Mitra is survived by his brothers, Guatam, Shankar and Udayan, as well as many extended family members.