Americans Alvin Roth and Lloyd Shapley have won the Nobel economics prize for research that helps explain the market processes when doctors are assigned to hospitals, students to schools and human organs for transplant to recipients.
The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences cited the two economists for "the theory of stable allocations and the practice of market design."
Roth, 60, is a professor at Harvard University in Boston. Shapley, 89, is a professor emeritus at University of California Los Angeles.
"This year's prize concerns a central economic problem: how to match different agents as well as possible," the academy said.
Prof. Shapley made early theoretical contributions to the field of study, and Prof. Roth took it further by applying it to the market for US doctors.
"Even though these two researchers worked independently of one another, the combination of Shapley's basic theory and Roth's empirical investigations, experiments and practical design has generated a flourishing field of research and improved the performance of many markets," the academy said.
The Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences was the last of the 2012 Nobel awards to be announced.
It is not technically a Nobel Prize, because unlike the five other awards it was not established in the will of Alfred Nobel, the Swedish industrialist also known for inventing dynamite.
The economics prize was created by the Swedish central bank in Nobel's memory in 1968, and has been handed out with the other prizes ever since.