Congratulations! You've just won the Nobel Prize

Two "match-makers" whose work has found practical applications in pairing pupils with schools and organs with transplant patients, yesterday won the Nobel Prize for economics.

US economists Al Roth and Lloyd Shapley claimed the Skr8m (£747,000) award from the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences for the "theory of stable allocations and the practice of market design".

Mr Shapley – one of the oldest winners of the prize at 89 – is among the leading lights in a field of economics including John Nash, the schizophrenic genius who himself won the Nobel Prize in 1994 and was portrayed by Russell Crowe in the film A Beautiful Mind.

He first published his work on the topic 50 years ago in a ground-breaking article with fellow economist David Gale, who died in 2008.

The pair used game theory – the science of strategic decision making – to study and compare various matching methods, working out how to make sure the matches were acceptable to all counterparts.

In the 1962 article, entitled "College Admissions and the Stability of Marriage" Messrs Shapley and Gale presented a simple model where men and women – or students and colleges – expressed preferences for individuals in the other set to whom they might be matched. The authors proposed a formula for "stable" matching, meaning that no man or woman would be matched to an unacceptable mate.

The work was followed up by Mr Roth and helped redesign existing institutions so that new doctors could be matched with hospitals, students with schools or patients with organ donors. The awarding committee called it "an outstanding example of economic engineering".

He described his work as studying "courtship", saying: "Matching ... is about how you get all the things that you can't just choose but you also have to be chosen – so getting into university, getting married, getting jobs. You can't just have what you want; you also have to do some courtship and there is courtship on both sides."

The economics prize, officially called the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel, was established in 1968. It was not part of the original group of awards set out in dynamite tycoon Mr Nobel's 1895 will.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager - B2B, Corporate - City, London

£45000 - £50000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Neil Pavier: Commercial Analyst

£50,000 - £55,000: Neil Pavier: Are you a professionally qualified commercial ...

Loren Hughes: Financial Accountant

£45,000 - £55,000: Loren Hughes: Are you looking for a new opportunity that wi...

Sheridan Maine: Finance Analyst

Circa £45,000-£50,000 + benefits: Sheridan Maine: Are you a newly qualified ac...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
How Tansy Davies turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

How a composer turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

Tansy Davies makes her operatic debut with a work about the attack on the Twin Towers. Despite the topic, she says it is a life-affirming piece
11 best bedside tables

11 best bedside tables

It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
Italy vs England player ratings: Did Andros Townsend's goal see him beat Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney to top marks?

Italy vs England player ratings

Did Townsend's goal see him beat Kane and Rooney to top marks?
Danny Higginbotham: An underdog's tale of making the most of it

An underdog's tale of making the most of it

Danny Higginbotham on being let go by Manchester United, annoying Gordon Strachan, utilising his talents to the full at Stoke and plunging into the world of analysis
Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police

Steve Bunce: Inside Boxing

Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat