Lloyd S. Shapley: UCLA Gets A Sixth Nobel Prize, This One In Economics

Good news for UCLA this fall. Not only is its football team 5-2 (not bad), while its academic programs make it a top-13 school in the world, but it's now home to yet another Nobel Prize winner.

He's the sixth Nobel laureate from the Westwood school, according to UCLA. [Added at 3:25 p.m.]: USC has had three, apparently.

The Nobel Prize folks announced Shapley's win for economics today. The 89-year-old shares the prize with Alvin E. Roth of Harvard. Here's why:

Both the winners' research focused on how to best match "agents" -- buyer and seller, say -- in financial and other markets, according to the Nobel folks. Shapley is a noted game theorist and UCLA professor emeritus of economics whose work dates back to the 1950s and '60s.

The New York Times put it this way:

Mr. Shapley explained how individuals can be paired together in a stable match even when they disagree about what qualities make the right match. The paper focused on designing an ideal, perfectly stable marriage market: that is, how mates find one another in a fair way, so that no one who is already married would want (and be able) to break off and pair up with someone else who is already married.

It was an elegant and simple mathematical model that explained the optimal way to match up men and women, and it was all written in basic English rather than complicated mathematical jargon.

Roger Farmer, chair of the UCLA Department of Economics, said in a statement that co-winner Roth built on Shapley's work with mathematician and economist David Gale:

Professor Roth took the theoretical contribution of Gale and Shapley and recognized its relevance to a large number of real-world situations.

The UCLA prof retired more than 10 years ago, according to the school. Shapley's sons issued a statement through UCLA indicating that, as a result of his age, interviews will not be granted.

[@dennisjromero / djromero@laweekly.com / @LAWeeklyNews]


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