One of the main originators of conflict theory, game theory, and peace research
Rapoport studied piano, composition and conducting in Vienna, but came to USA in the mid 1930s where he became a mathematician of biology and behavioral science. He received degrees from the University of Chicago ending with a PhD in Mathematics in 1941.
Following a distinguished academic career at the U of Chicago and U of Michigan, Rapoport came to the University of Toronto in 1970 as Professor of Mathematics and Psychology and, since 1984, Professor of Peace Studies. His interest in peace studies led to his election as President of the Canadian Peace Research and Education Association, and President of Science for Peace.
Rapoport's research has focused on game and conflict theory — the mathematics of decision making. He has worked on varieties of a mathematical problem called "The Prisoner's Dilemma", where players gain the most by wily cooperation than by working on a strict principle of "winner take all." Rapoport has applied principles of human behaviour demonstrated by these problems to situations of international conflict.
Rapoport has served on many boards and committees involved in mathematics and peace research. He is the author of over 300 articles and of Two-Person Game Theory (1999) and N-Person Game Theory (2001), among many other well-known books on fights, games, violence and peace. His autobiography, Certainties and Doubts: A Philosophy of Life, was released in 2001.