Monday, October 15, 2012

A Mathematician Who Never Had an Economics Course Shares the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences

Being in Sweden is always special and never more so than when the Nobel prizes get announced.

Today, the Nobel prize in Economic Sciences was announced and the recipients are Alvin Roth of Harvard University, who is visiting at Stanford University (although the LA Times says that he actually has accepted a position at Stanford, his alma mater) , and Lloyd Shapley, who is a professor emeritus at UCLA.

We were waiting with bated breath for the announcement at 1PM today and it is great to have game theorists (again) be awarded the Nobel prize.

One of my favorite previous recipients is John Nash, whose work I cite in many of my papers on  oligopoly theory and competitive supply chains.

I found the following quote from Shapley, who learned that he and Roth had won the $1.2 million award from an Associated Press photographer and another journalist who went to his home in Los Angeles early Monday.,  interesting and it was published in the Boston Herald (which has Roth still at Harvard):

"I consider myself a mathematician and the award is for economics," Shapley told AP by telephone. "I never, never in my life took a course in economics."

Shapley did much of the theoretical work behind matching algorithms (from couples to kidneys and humans to other applications), whereas Roth is know for his empirical applications.

The late Elinor Ostrom, was the only female recipient of the Nobel prize in Economic Sciences.

She was a regular visitor to the University of Gothenburg, and according to my colleagues here, was working with one of them in the hospital before her death.