Biography:Louis Guttman

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Louis (Eliyahu) Guttman
DiedOctober 25, 1987(1987-10-25) (aged 71)
Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States

Louis (Eliyahu) Guttman (February 10, 1916 – October 25, 1987; Hebrew: לואיס (אליהו) גוטמן‎) was an American mathematician and sociologist and Professor of Social and Psychological Assessment at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, known primarily for his work in social statistics[1]. He founded and was the scientific director of the Israel Institute of Applied Social Research, later renamed the Guttman Institute before finally becoming the Guttman Center (part of the Israel Democracy Institute).


Guttman was born in New York City on February 10, 1916 and grew up in the Jewish community of Minneapolis, Minnesota. Guttman received both his BA in 1936 and MA in 1939 at the University of Minnesota, and his PhD in Social and Psychological Measurement in 1942.

From 1941 to 1947 Guttman was professor of sociology at Cornell University, while as part of the World War II effort, he also served as an Expert Consultant to the US Army's Research Branch. In 1947 Guttman and his wife Ruth emigrated to Palestine.

He was member of the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities, and foreign Honorary member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and President of the Psychometric Society. In 1956 he was elected Stanford University: Fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences. In 1962 he received the Rothschild Prize. The development of scaling theory by Louis Guttman and Clyde Coombs has been recognized by Science as one of 62 major advances in the social sciences in the period 1900-1965.[2] Other awards were:

Guttman died on October 25, 1987, while on sabbatical in Minneapolis.


Guttman research interests were in the fields of scale analysis, facet theory. His work left a legacy of major developments in the theory and practice of scale and factor analysis, multidimensional scaling and facet theory[4]. His mathematical and philosophical treatments of Factor analysis are among the important parts of his scientific legacy.

His earlier work in scaling analysis produced what has become to be known as the Guttman scale.[5] Later, searching for a more flexible scaling scheme, Guttman explored Partial Order Scalogram Analysis (POSA) and applied it in empirical studies. Notably, Guttman first proved several fundamental theorems in matrix algebra, as discussed in papers by Hubert, Meulman and Heiser (2000)[6] and Takane and Yanai (2005). Several of Guttman's contributions, such as Smallest Space Analysis (SSA), have been incorporated into computer packages.

Guttman was described as a brilliant innovator who "saw theory in method and method in theory", was "informed by high sophistication in mathematics, statistics, sociology and psychology", and one who "made a major contribution to democratic policy-making in the new state" and "was concerned with the 'well-being' of individuals, groups and society" [7]


Guttman published in numerous journals and books, including over 300 pages in Psychometrika. Many of his papers are still quoted in the scientific literature as being relevant and important to current statistical and mathematical advances.

His innovative methodological work on attitudes was published in the 4th volume of Studies in Social Psychology in World War II (more popularly called The American Soldier series, after the title of the first two volumes).


  1. Shye, S. (1997). "Guttman, Louis". Leading Personalities in Statistical Sciences. New York: Wiley. pp. 112–117. ISBN 0-471-16381-3. 
  2. Deutsch, K.W., Platt, J. & Sengham, D. (1971). Conditions favoring major advances in social sciences. Science 05 Feb 1971: Vol. 171, Issue 3970, pp. 450-459. DOI: 10.1126/science.171.3970.450
  3. "Israel Prize Official Site - Recipients in 1978 (in Hebrew)". Archived from the original on 2011-07-16. 
  4. Shye, S. (1999). "Facet Theory". in Kotz, S.. Encyclopedia of Statistical Sciences Update Vol. 3. New Yok: Wiley. pp. 231-239. ISBN 0-471-23883-X. 
  5. Stouffer, S.A., Guttman, L., Suchman, E.A., Lazarsfeld, P.F., Star, S.A., Clausen, J.A. (1950) Measurement and Prediction Princeton University Press
  6. Lawrence J. Hubert, Phipps Arabie, Jacqueline Meulman (2001). Combinatorial Data Analysis: Optimization by Dynamic Programming. SIAM. ISBN 978-0898714784. 
  7. (from a posthumous award ceremony by the World Association of Public Opinion Research, 1988).

Further Reading

Shye, S. (1988). Louis Guttman 1916-1987. Applied Psychological Measurement, 12(1) 1-4.

Lingoes, J.C., Tucker, L.R., & Shye, S. (1988). Louis E. Guttman (1916-1987). Psychometrika, 53(2): 153-159.

External links