Sunday, January 31, 2016

The FCC's upcoming 2016 Incentive Auction: SIEPR policy brief by Greg Rosston and Addrzej Skrzpacz

Moving from Broadcast Television to Mobile Broadband: The FCC’s 2016 Incentive Auction

Gregory Rosston, Andrzej Skrzypacz

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Refugee resettlement as a matching problem in the NY Times

A lot of thought will be needed about how to customize matching tech to refugee resettlement, but a discussion may be beginning.

Here's the NY Times article: Ending the Refugee Deadlock By DALIBOR ROHACJAN. 29, 2016.

It seems motivated in part by this article in the Forced Migration Review:
Choices, preferences and priorities in a matching system for refugees
Will Jones and Alexander Teytelboym

Here's an earlier post of mine:
Thursday, September 3, 2015 Migrants aren't widgets: refugee resettlement is a matching problem, and here is my set of posts on refugees to date: 

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Paul Terasaki 1929-2016, transplant immunology pioneer

Here's his UCLA obit: Paul Terasaki, 86, transplant medicine pioneer, philanthropist, UCLA faculty member and alumnus.

Here is what I wrote about him in Who Gets What and Why:

"The test that determines how sensitized a patient is involves a nice story: it was invented by UCLA medical scientist Paul Terasaki, who also built a prosperous business to make those tests available. His is a remarkable American life and career: Born in California in 1929, he and his family were interned with other Japanese-Americans during WWII. In 2010 he donated $50 million to UCLA."
An earlier post touched on his work:

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Who Gets What and Why in Chinese, and in paperback (in Britain)--the magic of subtitles

 This picture is of Ivy Li's copy of Who Gets What--and Why in Chinese. I gather that the Chinese subtitle is about 'the shared economy.'

The subtitle on the British paperback version also changed from the hardback--publishers have their own magic...

As it happens, there's a Stanford seminar on subtitles today at 4pm:

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

The evolution of kidney exchange--the operational side of market design

 Market design doesn't stop when the market opens, and it isn't all analytical--a lot of it is operational, with changes being called for as experience is accumulated. One of the big problems faced by all of the multi-hospital kidney exchange networks is that many proposed transplants don't go through.  For example, if a three way cycle is proposed and one of the proposed transplants isn't accepted, none of the three proposed transplants go through. Counted this way, initially only 15% of proposed transplants were realized, but changes in the way surgeons' preferences are elicited has now brought this nearer to 50%. ( It turns out it's not easy to elicit surgeons' preferences in advance, but we're making progress:)

Here's an account of some of the ongoing market design in kidney exchange, at the Alliance for Paired Donation.  The American Journal of Transportation has now made it open access, after naming it among the 10 "best of AJT 2015" articles.

Fumo, D.E., V. Kapoor, L.J. Reece, S.M. Stepkowski,J.E. Kopke, S.E. Rees, C. Smith, A.E. Roth, A.B. Leichtman, M.A. Rees, “Improving matching strategies in kidney paired donation: the 7-year evolution of a web based virtual matching system,” American Journal of Transplantation, forthcoming, Article first published online: 26 MAY 2015 | DOI: 10.1111/ajt.13337,

Abstract: Failure to convert computer-identified possible kidney paired donation (KPD) exchanges into transplants has prohibited KPD from reaching its full potential. This study analyzes the progress of exchanges in moving from ‘‘offers’’ to completed transplants. Offers were divided into individual segments called 1-way transplants in order to calculate success rates. From 2007 to 2014, the Alliance for Paired Donation performed 243 transplants, 31 in collaboration with other KPD registries and 194 independently. Sixty-one of 194 independent transplants (31.4%) occurred via cycles, while the remaining 133 (68.6%) resulted from nonsimultaneous extended altruistic donor (NEAD) chains. Thirteen of 35 (37.1%) NEAD chains with at least three NEAD segments accounted for 68% of chain transplants (8.6 tx/chain). The ‘‘offer’’ and 1-way success rates were 21.9 and 15.5%, respectively. Three reasons for failure were found that could be prospectively prevented by changes in protocol or software: positive laboratory crossmatch (28%), transplant center declined donor (17%) and pair transplanted outside APD (14%). Performing a root cause analysis on failures in moving from offer to transplant has allowed the APD to improve protocols and software. These changes have improved the success rate and the number of transplants performed per year.

Here are the other "10 best" articles .

It turns out that several of my papers in the past year were about kidneys, with a focus on operational issues:

      Anderson, Ross, Itai Ashlagi, David Gamarnik and Alvin E. Roth, “Finding long chains in kidney exchange using the traveling salesmen problem,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS), January 20, 2015 | vol. 112 | no. 3 | 663–668, 

      Anderson, Ross, Itai Ashlagi, David Gamarnik, Michael Rees, Alvin E. Roth, Tayfun Sönmez and M. Utku Ünver, " Kidney Exchange and the Alliance for Paired Donation: Operations Research Changes the Way Kidneys are Transplanted," Edelman Award Competition, Interfaces, 2015, 45(1), pp. 26–42.
Roth, Alvin E., “Transplantation: One Economist’s Perspective,” Transplantation, February 2015,  Volume 99 - Issue 2 - p 261–264.
Fumo, D.E., V. Kapoor, L.J. Reece, S.M. Stepkowski,J.E. Kopke, S.E. Rees, C. Smith, A.E. Roth, A.B. Leichtman, M.A. Rees, “Improving matching strategies in kidney paired donation: the 7-year evolution of a web based virtual matching system,” American Journal of Transplantation, October 2015, 15(10), 2646-2654 (designated one of 10 “best of AJT 2015”)

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Boston Globe looks at school choice in Denver and New Orleans

In the Boston Globe, there's a nice story by Jeremy C. Fox that focuses on school choice in Denver and New Orleans and the work that IIPSC has done there: Denver’s unified school enrollments may offer Boston a lesson

"A few years ago, parents here faced a bewildering array of options when selecting their children’s schools. There were more than 60 enrollment systems within Denver Public Schools alone, and another set for the city’s charter schools, each with distinct timelines and applications.

The confusion discouraged many low-income families from choosing at all, while parents with greater resources took advantage of the complexity to “game the system” in their favor, residents said.

“It did not promote equity with families,” said Karen Mortimer, a Denver public education advocate. “If you were in the know, you got the better schools.”

But four years after the Mile-High City adopted a common enrollment system that provides one-stop shopping for traditional, charter, magnet, and innovation schools, parents praise the ease and convenience of finding the right match.

Interviews with Denver parents, educators, and community groups suggest that the city’s largely controversy-free adoption of unified enrollment offers lessons for Boston, where a similar proposal by Mayor Martin J. Walsh and school leaders has met with vehement opposition from some parents.
"Since Denver and New Orleans became the first US cities to unify enrollment in 2012, several other urban communities have followed.

Of about a dozen US cities that have attempted to adopt the system, half have stalled amid political conflicts, according to Neil Dorosin, executive director of the Institute for Innovation in Public School Choice, a nonprofit group that builds and implements school assignment systems."

Monday, January 25, 2016

At Davos: a conversation with Martin Wolf about market design (video)

Here's a  half hour video of a conversation I enjoyed with Martin Wolf of the Financial Times, at Davos on Friday: A Journey of Discovery with Al Roth

You can also find the video on Youtube, here.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Bob Shiller on the need for economists to study the system for saving refugees

Economists on the Refugee Path

He concludes: "Under today’s haphazard and archaic asylum rules, refugees must take enormous risks to reach safety, and the costs and benefits of helping them are distributed capriciously. It does not have to be this way. Economists can help by testing which international rules and institutions are needed to reform an inefficient and often inhumane system." 

Economics as gossip

That's the headline of an interview that appeared yesterday in a Swiss newspaper, BZ the Berner Zeitung, by Stefan Schnyder:

«Meine Forschung ist in einem gewissen Sinne Klatsch»
Wirtschaftsnobelpreis­träger Alvin E. Roth forscht, wie der Arbeitsmarkt oder der Heiratsmarkt funktioniert. Am Weltwirtschaftsforum in Davos gab er Tipps für Stellensuchende und Verliebte.

Google Translate renders it as

"My research is in a certain sense Gossip»
Nobel laureate economist Alvin E. Roth researches how the labor market or the marriage market works. At the World Economic Forum in Davos, he gave advice to job seekers and lovers.

A Dutch exchange for rental housing leases

A Dutch site that calls itself the largest home exchange site in the Netherlands (De grootste woningruilsite van Nederland) seems to offer exchanges of leases, i.e. mutual sublets. with three way exchanges also a possibility.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Chess playing as a repugnant transaction in Saudi Arabia

The NY Times has the story: Saudi Arabia’s Top Cleric Forbids Chess, but Players Maneuver

"Saudi Arabia’s top cleric has declared the playing of chess “forbidden,” calling it a waste of time and money that creates hatred between players.

"In a fatwa, or religious decree, issued in response to a question from a caller to a Saudi television show, Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdulaziz Al-Sheikh said that the game was “the work of Satan,” like alcohol and gambling, despite its long history in the Middle East. Chess is played across the Arab world.
"It was unclear when the fatwa by the grand mufti was issued, but it appeared to garner attention online in the run-up to a chess tournament scheduled for Friday in Mecca. The chess association said it planned to go ahead with the tournament regardless of the fatwa."

Friday, January 22, 2016

Davos snapshots

Climate change

3 Davos economists on Europe’s refugee crisis:

And here's a site at which you can see some funny looking pictures of me taken while I was speaking (and the url seems to have promoted me to be a macro-economist):

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Family consent for (and sometimes veto of) organ donation in England, and presumed consent in Wales

Here's a BBC report:
Organ donations vetoed by hundreds of bereaved families, By Jane Dreaper, 15 January 2016

"Bereaved families have blocked the donation of organs from 547 UK registered donors since 2010 - about one in seven cases, figures show.

"NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) says it will no longer seek the consent of families formally, to make such "overrides" more exceptional.

"Instead, they will be given a leaflet explaining consent - or authorisation in Scotland - rests with the deceased.

"Families can still veto that consent but must provide reasons in writing.

"NHSBT expects the change to lead to a 9% rise in donors.
It said the 547 blocked donors would have provided organs for 1,200 patients."
"Last month, the system in Wales changed to "presumed consent", under which people are deemed to be potential donors unless they have specifically opted out."

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Challenges for the coming year?

 Four Nobel economists on the biggest challenges for 2016
I responded with refugee resettlement, but see also Bob Shiller, Ned Phelps, and Mike Spence.

This is in connection with the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting, 20-23 January 2016 Davos-Klosters, Switzerland, which I'm attending this year (and to which I'm travelling today).

Monday, January 18, 2016

Equilibrium, mediation, and differential privacy

Here's a paper that caught my eye...

Robust Mediators in Large Games
Michael Kearns, Mallesh M. Pai, Ryan Rogers,  Aaron Roth, and Jonathan Ullman
December 14, 2015
A mediator is a mechanism that can only suggest actions to players, as a function of all agents’ reported types, in a given game of incomplete information. We study what is achievable by two kinds of mediators, “strong” and “weak.” Players can choose to opt-out of using a strong mediator but cannot misrepresent their type if they opt-in. Such a mediator is “strong” because we can view it as having the ability to verify player types. Weak mediators lack this ability— players are free to misrepresent their type to a weak mediator. We show a striking result—in a prior-free setting, assuming only that the game is large and players have private types, strong mediators can implement approximate equilibria of the complete-information game. If the game is a congestion game, then the same result holds using only weak mediators. Our result follows from a novel application of  differential privacy, in particular, a variant we propose called joint differential privacy.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Reducing the cruelty in food--WSJ on trends in veal production

As we get more prosperous, we are becoming more concerned about what we eat. Here's a story from the WSJ about veal--meat from calves.

Why You Might Consider Ordering the Veal--More-palatable production methods are helping restore veal to restaurant menus  By MATTHEW KRONSBERG

"LIKE MANY WHO came of age in the 1980s, I spent years not ordering veal. News stories about the mistreatment of the calves made veal synonymous with cruelty. Images of young animals confined to constrictive crates to prevent muscle development and promote ultra-tender meat left me, and many others, with little appetite for it.

"So it has come as a surprise, recently, to see veal on the menu in restaurants known for the conscientious sourcing of their meat.
"Could veal be making a comeback? In mass-market terms, it’s unlikely. Annual U.S. consumption has fallen from 2.3 pounds per capita in 1986 to 0.3 pounds in 2014. Supply-side issues are a factor—gender-selection methods now used in dairy-cow breeding have reduced the number of superfluous male calves, the main source of the veal industry’s livestock, and a high demand for beef has also diverted more dairy calves to beef production. Yet it’s worth noting that in the U.K. and EU, where crating veal calves was banned in 1990 and 2007 respectively, consumption has increased. While there’s still no ban stateside, the American Veal Association has set a goal for members to voluntarily eliminate crates by 2017, said association president, Dale Bakke.

"Many small producers have already adopted more humane practices. The veal served at Upland and Cypress Tavern hews closely to the European style of husbandry, with calves raised in group pens or even open pasture. "

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Learning opportunities at Canadian universities

Two universities I visited recently in Canada offered the following learning opportunities

Friday, January 15, 2016

The photo gallery of retired Harvard economics professors on the Littauer stairway

Among the many reasons that the Harvard Economics department needs a new or renovated building is that their photo gallery of retired faculty is nearing the top of the stairwell. I haven't seen my photo there in person yet, but several correspondents have sent me a picture of my picture, and this photo captures, in reflection, how little room is left on the stairs...

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Top 25: What corporate America is reading, December 2015

Here's a best-seller list, published today, that surprised me:
Top 25: What corporate America is reading, December 2015

1. "Who Gets What -- And Why: The New Economics of Matchmaking and Market Design" by Alvin E. Roth, Eamon Dolan/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Who Gets What and Why: The Economics of Life Choices from School Admissions to Kidney Exchange: SFUEconomics (video)

A video of the Bank of Montreal Lecture I gave at Simon Fraser University in November is now available:

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

77 Kidney Exchange transplants in 2015 at one transplant center in India

I received the following cheerful news from Dr. Vivek Kute at the Institute of Kidney Diseases and Research Center and Dr. H L Trivedi Institute of Transplantation Sciences ,
(IKDRC-ITS) Ahmedabad , India

 Kidney Paired Donation (KPD) Transplantation Activity At Single Center In Institute Of Kidney Diseases And Research Center And Dr. H L Trivedi Institute Of Transplantation Sciences , (IKDRC-ITS) Ahmedabad , India
Kute VB , Patel HV, Shah PR, Vanikar AV, Modi PR, Shah VR , Varyani UT, Wakhare PS ,  Shinde  SG,  Godhela VA, Shah PS , MK Shah , Gattani VS ,Shah JH, Wadhai KG , Trivedi VB, Patel MH, Trivedi HL.
1) We have performed the largest number of KPD Transplantations (77 patients from 1 Jan 2015 to 1 Jan 2016) in our single center and to the best of our knowledge this is largest number for KPD transplants in single center in one year in the World. KPD constitutes 25% of living donor kidney transplant (LDKT) in 2015.
2) We have performed 274 KPD Transplantations in Our Single Center from Year 2000- 2015 and total 231 KPD Transplantations from Year 2011-2015
3) We Have Performed First Non-Simultaneous Domino Chain Transplant of 6 ESRD Patients and 6 Donors in Single Center in August 2015.
4) We Have Performed First International KPD Transplant on 17 Feb 2015.
5) In The Year 2013, we have performed 56 Kidney Paired Donation Transplantations in our single center. KPD constitutes 15.8% of LDKT in 2013.
6) In The Year 2014, we have performed 56 Kidney Paired Donation Transplantations in our single center. KPD constitutes 18.1% of LDKT in 2014.
7) We Have Performed Ten KPD Transplantations on World Kidney Day 2013 in Single Day in Our Single Center on 14 March 2013.
8) We Have Performed Successful Three-Way KPD Transplantation: First Time in India on 13 February 2013.
9) We Have Performed Successful Three-Way KPD Transplantation in Combination with Desensitization Protocol: First Time in India on 6 May 2014.
Under Mentorship of Prof. HL Trivedi, Vivek Kute is mainly focused on expanding donor pool and kidney-paired donation (KPD) transplantation. 
Correspondence Address
Dr.Vivek Kute. 
MBBS, MD, FCPS, DM Nephrology (Gold Medalist), FASN
Associate Professor , Nephrology and Transplantation, Institute of Kidney Diseases and Research Center and Dr. H L Trivedi Institute of Transplantation Sciences , (IKDRC-ITS) Ahmedabad , India
(M) : +919099927543  
Website :

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Centennial lecture at U of Illinois College of Business (video of lecture and of an interview)

Here (and below) is the video of the public lecture I gave in October, and an accompanying interview, as part of the Centennial celebration at the University of Illinois College of Business, where I had my first academic job in 1974.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Matching: Theory and Applications, special issue dedicated to Marilda Sotomayor in honor of her 70th birthday

Here's the set of papers in honor of Marilda Sotomayor in the Journal of Dynamics and Games (JDG)
Volume 2,Number 3/4,     July/October 2015
Alberto Adrego Pinto and Michel Benaïm
 Abstract       Full Text      Related Articles
Danilo Coelho and David Pérez-Castrillo
 Abstract       References       Full Text      Related Articles
David Cantala and Juan Sebastián Pereyra
 Abstract       References       Full Text      Related Articles
A survey on assignment markets    Pages : 227 - 256
Marina Núñez and Carles Rafels
 Abstract       References       Full Text      Related Articles
Bettina Klaus and Frédéric Payot
 Abstract       References       Full Text      Related Articles
Eliana Pepa Risma
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Renato Soeiro,  Abdelrahim Mousa and Alberto A. Pinto
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Fuhito Kojima
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Alvin E. Roth
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Tone Arnold and Myrna Wooders
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William Thomson
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