Roth at Harvard & Shapley at UCLA won 2012 Nobel Prize in Economics

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences announced earlier today that the 2012 Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel will divided equally between Alvin E. Roth (Harvard University) and Lloyd S. Shapley (UCLA) “for the theory of stable allocations and the practice of market design“.

Roth was interviewed over the phone immediately by the Nobel foundation following the announcement. The audio interview, hearing the answers in the words and tone of the Nobel Laureate  is always interesting fascinating. Here is a brief insightful exchange excerpt from the interview transcript that explains what the this year’s winners won for,

AG [Allegra Grevelius, from Nobelprize.org, the Nobel Prize website]: I understand. Many of Nobelprize.org’s visitors are high school students. How would you explain your prize awarded work in layman’s terms?

AR [Alvin E. Roth]: Well, my prize is about matching and matching is the work that the economy does when deciding for instance which students go to which schools. If they have a choice so high school students in some cities get matched through a choice system where they submit preferences and the schools have requirements perhaps preferences also. And some decisions are made who goes where. And that’s what matching is about. It’s about who gets what. And um, we try to, in the school choice, we try to make it happen in a way that is sufficient but doesn’t, but doesn’t send people to schools they would rather swap with other people if the schools would allow them. Um, and if your students are in high school, they are going to go through many matching markets in their lives. They’re going to get married, they’re going to get jobs, and so, they can think about us then.

AG: Yes, it is very interesting. So your work has a lot of practical applications in our lives, school applications, maybe matching kidney donors and receivers. Are you driven as an economist by these questions by applying your theories to real life?AR: Yes, economics is about real life, so I’m very interested in that.

[…]

AG: Yeah, indeed. As a young person, what inspired you to be an economist?

AR: Well, I didn’t become an economist until rather late in life. My PhD is operational research. I was interested in making things work better and using mathematics to help do that. So operational research is what I studied as an undergraduate and graduate student. The kinds of things that I found myself interested in, trying to understand and trying to make things work better were things that involved people and that meant economics.

Cross posted by me at examiner.com

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