Matchmakers win Nobel economics prize
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Once again, judges of the Nobel Prize in economics have eschewed high profile economists and opted for two Americans who are unknown outside their profession.
Professors Alvin Roth (Harvard), 60, and Lloyd Shapley (University of California Los Angeles), 89, have both focused their research on improving the way people are matched with limited resources, such as kidney donations and urban high-school admissions.
The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, which awards the eight million Swedish krona prize ($1.5 million) says they have been honoured "for the theory of stable allocations and the practice of market design."
Their research has been applied by public and private institutions in various areas. New York City and other urban districts have used it when assigning students to high schools, ensuring that more students are matched with their top preferences.
The research also has been used to match medical residents with hospitals, and donated kidneys with patients. The work is designed to help determine the fairest and most efficient way to match people and things when the traditional market force – prices – isn't involved.
Though they never worked together and are aged a generation apart, the academy says the pair's combined work "has generated a flourishing field of research and improved the performance of many markets."
While Professor Shapley was more the theorist of match-making, giving his name to the Gale-Shapley rules, Professor Roth was the practitioner. One of his most successful projects was applying the rules to the annual allocation of some 25,000 medical students to US hospitals.