Rakesh Sarin

Profile photo of Rakesh Sarin
“The ultimate judge of the quality of our decision is the impact on personal and social well-being.”

Professor of Decisions, Operations, and Technology Management; Paine Chair in Management

(310) 825-3930

Areas of Expertise

  • Behavioral Decision Making
  • Decision Analysis
  • Risk Analysis




Rakesh Sarin has been a member of the UCLA Anderson faculty since 1979. He was promoted to associate professor in 1981, to full professor in 1985, and he was awarded the Paine Chair in Management in 1990. He has also held appointments on the faculties of the Indian Institute of Management, Purdue University and Duke University.

His theoretical interests include preference theory, decisions under uncertainty and equity and fairness in decision-making. He has developed models that have found applications in project evaluation, new product development decisions, and analyzing risks to human health and the environment. His recent research has focused on identifying laws that govern happiness.

Sarin is currently serving as the editor-in-chief of Decision Analysis, a peer-reviewed journal of INFORMS that bridges the gap between theory and practice and facilitates active communication and exchange of knowledge among decision analysts in academia, business, industry and government. He has also served as a consultant to several private and public organizations.

He enjoys teaching the MBA and Executive MBA program students, the latter of which he says bring new challenges. “EMBA students are more engaged on conceptual issues, even though they have to balance work and study,” says Sarin. “Their primary goal is learning to enhance their careers, which really changes the nature of discussions in class.”

Apart from his focus on decision sciences, risk analysis and decision-making, Sarin has been conducting research with Manel Baucells at Universitat Pompeu Fabra to determine whether the “key to happiness” can be identified through a mathematical formula. Based on 10 years of research examining worldwide data from surveys, ancient literature and pearls of wisdom from various religions and spiritual practices, Sarin and Baucells have determined that the laws of happiness rest with one fundamental equation: Happiness = Reality – Shifting Expectations. Their findings have been published in their book Engineering Happiness. In it they integrate their research with the latest thinking in the behavioral and social sciences — including management science, psychology and economics — and offer a new approach to the puzzle of happiness.



Ph.D. Operations Management, 1975, UCLA

MBA 1971, Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad

B.E. Mechanical Engineering, 1969, M.R. Engineering College, Jaipur


Representative Published Papers

Manel Baucells, and Rakesh K. Sarin. (February 2010). “Predicting Utility under Satiation and Habit Formation”, Management Science, 56(2): 286-301. [ PDF ]

Manel Baucells, and Rakesh K. Sarin. (January-February 2007). “Satiation in Discounted Utility,” Operations Research, [ PDF ]

Dyer, J.S. and Sarin, R.K., “Measurable Multiattribute Value Functions,” Operations Research, 27, 4, 810-822, July-August, 1979.

Sarin, R.K., “Strength of Preference and Risky Choice,” Operations Research, 30, 5, 982-997, September-October 1982.

Dyer, J.S. and Sarin, R.K., “Relative Risk Aversion,” Management Science, 28, 8, 875-886, August 1982.

Keeney, R.L., Sarin, R.K. and Winkler, R.L., “Analysis of Alternative National Ambient Carbon Monoxide Standards,” Management Science, 30, 4, 518-528, April 1984.

Sarin, R.K., “Measuring Equity in Public Risk,” Operations Research, 33, 1, 210-217, January-February 1985. [ PDF ]

Kahn, B.E. and Sarin, R.K., “Modeling Ambiguity in Decisions Under Uncertainty,” Journal of Consumer Research, 15, 265-272, September 1988. [ PDF ]

Hum, S.H. and Sarin, R.K., “Simultaneous Product-Mix Planning, Lot Sizing and Scheduling at Bottleneck Facilities,” Operations Research, 39, 2, 296-307, March-April 1991. [ PDF ]

Fishburn, P.C. and Sarin, R.K., “Fairness and Social Risk I: Unaggregated Analyses,” Management Science, 40, 9, 1174-1188, September 1994.

Kahneman, D., Wakker, P.P. and Sarin, R.K., “Back to Bentham? Explorations of Experienced Utility,” The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 375-405, May 1997. [ PDF ]



Craig Fox, UCLA Anderson
Rakesh Sarin on KTLA Channel 5
Craig Fox, UCLA Anderson
UCLA Anderson TED Week: Engineering Happiness
Craig Fox, UCLA Anderson
Rakesh Sarin describes his book, Engineering Happiness, at Stanford