As has been widely noted, Paul A. Samuelson died on Sunday at the age of 94. Samuelson was a longtime member of the MIT economics faculty and author of several important books. But in discussing his influence on the discipline, it's nearly impossible to avoid generalizations. Samuelson was simply one of the most important economic thinkers ever, and his impact on the last several decades of work in the field has been so broad as to elude precise description. As MIT's Robert Solow put it:
That quote comes from the obituary published by MIT's new office, which is here. Other worthwhile tributes and retrospectives are available from the New York Times, the Boston Globe, and Samuelson's former colleague Paul Krugman.
All of them mention the phenomenal success of Samuelson's introductory economics textbook, now in its 19th edition. Sure, that's mind-boggling, but many economists will tell you that the heart of economics is the published research paper. On that score, we're pleased to recall the five large volumes of collected scientific papers that he published between 1966 and 1986. One of the most astonishing things about those volumes is that, as of this writing, not one of them is out of print. That alone must say something very meaningful about Paul Samuelson.