Two American economists won the Nobel Prize on Monday for their research on matching methods, a theory that, while not completely relevant to the macroeconomic crisis facing the U.S. today, has real world applications that could potentially boost the performance of several markets.
Lloyd Shapley, a professor emeritus at the University of California at Los Angeles, and Harvard University’s Alvin Roth will share $1.2 million for their work in the “theory of stable allocations and the practice of market design,” the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said.
Shapley won the coveted award for his role in developing the matching theory in question, which focused on how to best match people up in large groups to ensure those matches are as stable as possible -- for instance, men and women considering marriage. Years later Roth, developed ways to actually apply Shapley’s work to practical endeavors, ultimately applying the algorithm to create better matchups between New York Public Schools and students, as well as a kidney exchange matching program that pairs compatible donors and recipients.
The pair may not have won the prize for, say, pinpointing the best ways to ensure long-term national economic growth. Still, one can’t help but wonder which side of the political arena these two Nobel laureates subscribe to, particularly in an election season rampant with ideologically charged prescriptions for improving the economy.
Although both men are modest political donors, they have exclusively favored Democrats in their campaign contributions, The Sunlight Foundation reports.
Roth is only on record for three political donations, all to the same candidate. The Harvard professor appears to have made his first contribution four years ago, when he donated a total of $1,250 to help Barack Obama win the presidency.
Shapley has not made a political donation since contributing $100 to former California Gov. Gray Davis’ reelection campaign in 2001. However, all his recorded contributions have gone toward decidedly Democratic causes, including to former senator and onetime presidential candidate Bill Bradley, the Democratic National Committee and the National Committee for an Effective Congress, which was founded by former first lady Eleanor Roosevelt.