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Nobel prize for economics awarded to a mathematician

There may be no Nobel in mathematics, but that needn’t stop mathematicians winning one: Lloyd Shapley has just won the Nobel prize for economics, for the theory of stable allocations and the practice of market design. ((Though technically it’s not a Nobel prize, and actually the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel. Perhaps Alfred Nobel’s made-up wife also had an affair with a fantastical economist.))

Lloyd Shapley described himself in an Associated Press interview:

“I consider myself a mathematician and the award is for economics. I never, never in my life took a course in economics.”

But if you don’t take his word for it, look on over at his entry on the Mathematics Genealogy Project, and you’ll find his thesis is on “Additive and Non-Additive Set Functions”.

The Nobel prize website has some details on the theory of stable allocations and market design, but an old AMS feature column gives a gentler mathematical introduction, via the elegant graph theory of Hall’s Marriage theorem.