Saturday 22 November 2014

Match-making wins Nobel for US economists

Published 16/10/2012 | 05:00

US economists Alvin Roth and Lloyd Shapley have won the 2012 Nobel prize for economics

US economists Alvin Roth and Lloyd Shapley won the 2012 economics Nobel prize for research on how to match different economic agents such as students for schools or even organ donors with patients.

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, which made the award, said the 8m crown (€950,000) prize recognised "the theory of stable allocations and the practice of market design".

Although it is common practice for Nobel prizes to be awarded to pairs of academics, on this occasion it was particularly apt as the two American economists both made their names by developing theories of match-making.

It is a common problem in market places: how do students find university places, tenants find flats, workers find employers or, indeed, husbands find wives?

In each case, you have a large group of people on either side of the market, who need to be married up with one another one-for-one. The problem is that people's preferences do not necessarily marry up quite so neatly. Lloyd Shapley was born in 1923 in Cambridge, Massachussetts -- home town of Harvard University, where he studied mathematics.

Mr Shapley taught at Princeton briefly before working at the RAND Corporation as a research mathematician and then moving to the University of California in 1981.

Born in 1951, Alvin Roth dropped out of high school in New York because, he said years later, he felt "under-stimulated".

Despite this setback, he went on to study economics at Columbia University, before completing his doctorate in the subject at Stanford, and eventually landing a post at Harvard.

Irish Independent

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