Thursday, September 27, 2012

My Favorite Podcasts

I'm addicted to podcasts. Here I list the gems I've found that I think would be interesting to a broad audience. All can be found on iTunes. Post your favorites please. I'm always looking for something interesting to listen to on a long run or during the commute.

In no particular order...

Saturday, September 8, 2012

To Market, To Market.....Market Design and Matching Mechanisms

***Update 15 Oct 2012***
Lloyd Shapley and Al Roth are co-winners of this year's Nobel Prize in Economics for their work on matching mechanisms!!! Well deserved award.

Washington Post writeup here.
Marginal Revolution writeup here.
Nobel Prize writeup here.

What the are market design and matching mechanisms fields? I guarantee that most economists have no idea. Read below to find out. Lots of links and examples to impress your friends and colleagues at the water cooler.
8 Sept 2012
Nearly two years ago, while studying in Chile, I began research for my thesis and came to know and love a niche field within economics known as matching mechanisms, itself a sub-field of market design. There exists a very small group of academics working on these special problems and by the good fortune of a random conversation with a professor I was let in on a small secret.

(Throughout I have linked several articles from author's websites and suggest skimming the introduction and conclusions to get an understanding of the dilemma. Only after reading and comprehending Gale-Shapley (1962) would I recommend delving into the theory and analysis of these works.)

To give this some context there are probably several thousand serious economists working on macroeconomic issues such as monetary policy, international trade, growth, etc. At last year's National Bureau of Economic Research Market Design Working Group meeting there were probably 30-40 economists and computer scientists working on market design problems, maybe 10 of whom were dedicated to the investigation of matching mechanisms. My best guess is that these researchers represented about half of the entire field. Niche indeed. Some of the titans I had the pleasure to meet: Tayfun Sonmez, Susan AtheyAl Roth, and Parag Pathak.

I have put off blogging about this for a while because matching mechanisms can be difficult to explain. Market design research gets heavy into math proofs. The notation in the journal papers is especially difficult to follow. Regardless, the purpose of the writer is to make the complex a little less convoluted and marginally more accessible. If I am worth anything at all as a blogger then nearly anyone ought to be able to read this post and walk away with an appreciation of and at least a little knowledge about matching mechanisms. Matching mechanisms are especially interesting because of their use everywhere around us.