Thursday, May 28, 2015

The auction of Lederman's Nobel medal goes into extended bidding

The auction has a soft close, and as of 6:30 Pacific time, The auction has entered into extended bidding. Please refresh your screen to see the accurate time left for this lot at the bottom of the page.

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Judd Kessler interviewed about organ donor registration on NPR

Shankar Vedantam interviews Judd Kessler about how to ask for registration as a deceased organ donor, on NPR's Morning Edition:

Attempt To Get More People On Board With Organ Donation Backfires
MAY 27, 2015 8:56 AM ET

 The transcript is below, or you may be able to listen to the audio at the link above.

To increase the number of organ donors in the U.S., psychologists have advocated for changes to how we ask people to donate. In California, officials tried something new — but it may have backfired.

Many patients in the United States die because there are not enough organs available for transplantation. This is because compared to many other Western nations, fewer people in this country sign up to be organ donors. Policymakers and researchers try experimenting with different ways to boost the rate at which people sign up to be donors, but there's disturbing evidence that one widely used technique is actually backfiring. NPR social science correspondent Shankar Vedantam joined our colleague Steve Inskeep to talk about this.
SHANKAR VEDANTAM, BYLINE: When you go to the DMV to apply for a driver's license, there's a question about whether you want to be an organ donor.
VEDANTAM: And for many years, Steve, the question was you either could check the box that said yes or you could leave the question blank. There was no option to say no. And researchers, a few years ago, suggested it might be better to give people both the yes and the no choices. And the thinking was that people were not saying yes because they were at the DMV and they were thinking about other things. But if you force them to answer yes or no and not leave the question blank, more people would say yes because they'd actually think about it.
INSKEEP: Oh, the notion is you've got to check one box otherwise your application is not complete.
VEDANTAM: That's exactly right. Now, most states have moved to this approach. It's called an active choice approach. And there's new data now from the state of California. Judd Kessler at the Wharton School and Alvin Roth at Stanford analyzed 6 million choices people made before and after this California change, and they compared it with outcomes to 60 million other people in 25 other states. Here's Kessler.
JUDD KESSLER: We found that switching to a yes-no frame actually did not increase the rate at which people registered as organ donors. In fact, we find that fewer people sign up to be organ donors when you put them on the spot and force them to say yes or no.
INSKEEP: Whoa. So when people are told, you must make a choice or your application is not complete, they say, oh, I'm out of here - no.
VEDANTAM: That's exactly right. Now, Kessler and Roth were worried that they were measuring something idiosyncratic to California. So in addition to sort of analyzing the California data, they ran a control lab experiment linked to the Massachusetts Organ Donor Registry. So people came into the experiment, and they could choose to either join or to leave the registry. And again, the researchers found is that when you force people to make a choice - say yes or say no - fewer people signed up to be organ donors.
VEDANTAM: Well, it's not quite clear exactly what's happening and why they're making that choice. It could be that actually people were thinking about their decision about whether to be organ donors in the initial case and they were choosing not to be organ donors. Some countries are also experimenting with the idea that you get to be first in line to receive an organ if you've previously signed up to be an organ donor, and that links self-interest to being an organ donor. Kessler thinks his experiment might have actually discovered something else. During the Massachusetts lab experiment, he found that although everyone in the study had previously been asked whether they wanted to be a donor, just the act of asking them again prompted many people to say yes.
KESSLER: Subjects who came into the laboratory had the option of changing their organ donor status. So that meant people who were currently registered could remove themselves from the registry or stay on, and people who were not registered could choose to add themselves to the registry. And what we found in our study was that subjects were 22 times more likely to add themselves to the registry than remove themselves from the registry.
INSKEEP: When they're asked more than one time, which makes a kind of basic human sense. If I'm in the DMV and I'm confronted with this question, I haven't thought about it maybe in advance - I mean, I just say no. I get out of there. But when I'm asked a second time, maybe I've had a chance to think it over.
VEDANTAM: Yeah. And the other thing that might actually work is to not just ask people at the DMV. It might not be the best timing to ask people when they've just spent 45 minutes waiting in line to get a driver's license. In Alaska, people get asked whether they want to be organ donors at the same time that the state sends them their annual dividend check. This is the check that Alaskans receive as part of the state's oil revenue. And it turns out that Alaska has the highest rate of organ donors in the whole country.
INSKEEP: So give people money - they're feeling good - then ask them for their liver.
VEDANTAM: Precisely.
INSKEEP: Shankar, thanks very much.
VEDANTAM: Thank you, Steve.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Leon Lederman's 1988 Nobel Physics medal up for auction--closing May 28

Another Nobel medal up for auction--this could be the start of a trend...
Nobel Prize Awarded to Physicist Leon Lederman in 1988 -- Won for His Groundbreaking Discovery of a New Atomic Particle -- One of Only 10 Nobel Prizes Ever to Be Auctioned

The 1988 Nobel Prize in Physics, awarded to particle physicist Leon Lederman for his discovery of the muon neutrino, a particle 200 times the size of an electron. Lederman, along with colleagues Melvin Schwartz and Jack Steinberger, found the muon neutrino in 1962 while using a high energy particle accelerator. They discovered that in some cases a muon (rather than an electron) was produced, illuminating the existence of a new atomic particle. Lederman was also instrumental in the discovery of the bottom quark in 1977, and was the champion of the Superconducting Super Collider. His popular 1993 book ''The God Particle: If the Universe is The Answer, What is The Question'' was released to critical acclaim. This Nobel Prize is made of 18kt gold, plated in 24k gold, as were all Nobel Prize medals awarded after 1980. Medal features the relief portrait of Alfred Nobel to front, with his name and the years of his birth and death. Verso features a relief of the Goddess Isis, whose veil is held up by a woman who represents the genius of science. Encircling the medal are the words ''Inventas vitam juvat excoluisse per artes'', translating to ''And they who bettered life on earth by their newly found mastery''. Lederman's name and 1988 in Roman numerals are engraved on a plaque below the relief of the two women, with ''Reg. Acad. Scient. Suec.'' also written, an abbreviation for The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. Etched upon the medal is the name of Erik Lindberg, designer of the Nobel medal. Housed in the original red leather case with Leon Lederman's name gilt stamped. Medal weighs 173 grams or just over 6 oz. and measures 2.5'' in diameter, consistent with the original Nobel Prize awarded in 1988. Case measures 5.5'' x 5.5'' x 1''. Presented in near fine condition, and with an LOA from Leon Lederman.
Nobel Prize Awarded to Physicist Leon Lederman in 1988 -- Won for His Groundbreaking Discovery of a New Atomic Particle -- One of Only 10 Nobel Prizes Ever to Be AuctionedNobel Prize Awarded to Physicist Leon Lederman in 1988 -- Won for His Groundbreaking Discovery of a New Atomic Particle -- One of Only 10 Nobel Prizes Ever to Be AuctionedNobel Prize Awarded to Physicist Leon Lederman in 1988 -- Won for His Groundbreaking Discovery of a New Atomic Particle -- One of Only 10 Nobel Prizes Ever to Be AuctionedNobel Prize Awarded to Physicist Leon Lederman in 1988 -- Won for His Groundbreaking Discovery of a New Atomic Particle -- One of Only 10 Nobel Prizes Ever to Be Auctioned
Nobel Prize Awarded to Physicist Leon Lederman in 1988 -- Won for His Groundbreaking Discovery of a New Atomic Particle -- One of Only 10 Nobel Prizes Ever to Be AuctionedNobel Prize Awarded to Physicist Leon Lederman in 1988 -- Won for His Groundbreaking Discovery of a New Atomic Particle -- One of Only 10 Nobel Prizes Ever to Be Auctioned
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Fuhito Kojima and Parag Pathak receive the 2016 Social Choice and Welfare Prize

 Congrats to Fuhito and Parag:)


A jury composed of Claude d'Aspremont (chair, President-elect of the Society for Social Choice and Welfare), Vincent Conitzer, Bhaskar Dutta (President of the Society for Social Choice and Welfare), Marc Fleurbaey and Tim Roughgarden has chosen to award the height Social Choice and Welfare Prize jointly to Fuhito Kojima (Stanford  University) and Parag Pathak(MIT).

The purpose of the Social Choice and Welfare Prize is to honour young scholars of excellent accomplishment in the area of social choice theory and welfare economics. The laureate should be 40 years or less as of January of the year when the International Meeting of the Society for Social Choice and Welfare is scheduled to take place. During this meeting, the prize winner(s) will give a one-hour lecture.

The SCW prize medal "La Pensée" ("The Thought") is due to Raymond Delamarre (1890-1986), a rather well-known French sculptor associated with what has been called "Art Deco" (Chrysler Building and Empire State Building in New York, the architects Mallet-Stevens or Le Corbusier in France). He is in particular famous for his work at the entrance of the Suez Canal. A web site:









Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Bob Aumann remembers John Nash

From Ynet..

John Nash, a teacher and a mentor
Nash was definitely one of the giants of game theory, writes Israeli Nobel laureate Yisrael Aumann, and the science world will miss him.
Prof. Yisrael Aumann
Published: 05.25.15, 19:15 / Israel Opinion
"I am so sorry to hear of John Nash's death. I have known John for more than 60 years.

I met him in 1953, when he was a young lecturer who had just started teaching at the university and I was coming to the end of my doctorate. He was the one who first introduced me to game theory. He is my first mentor and teacher on the subject.

John Nash. A giant in his field.  (Photo: Peter Badge / Typos 1)
John Nash. A giant in his field. (Photo: Peter Badge / Typos 1)

The truth is that I didn't give the field much thought at the time because I was busy with pure mathematics. Later, however, when I moved to a performance studies consulting firm, I encountered a difficult problem and then I realized the importance of game theory – and I recalled my conversations with Nash.

John Nash is definitely one of the giants of game theory, which is an important tool in economics and numerous other areas. He invented it, the key concept known as "equilibrium strategy;" and not only did he found the field, but he was also a game-theory giant. And he was also one of the first to receive a Nobel Prize for game theory. It was in 1994, and he shared it with two others. I am shocked to hear of his death.

In recent years, we met at least once a year at international conferences. He knew a lot – not only about mathematics but about everything, and you could talk to him about what is happening in the world.

Nash came to Israel in 1995, on my 65th birthday, which took place at the Tower of David in the form of a celebration and conference. It was a year after he received the Nobel Prize in Economics. The science world and I will certainly miss him."

Monday, May 25, 2015

Claudia Goldin interview on the history of labor force participation by women, among other things

The interview is in Econ Focus, published by the Richmond Fed: Claudia Goldin

Here's one paragraph:
"EF: What changed in society that allowed this revolution to occur?
Goldin: One of the most important changes was the appearance of reliable, female-controlled birth control. The pill lowered the cost to women of making long-term career investments. Before reliable birth control, a woman faced a nontrivial probability of having her career derailed by an unplanned pregnancy — or she had to pay the penalty of abstinence. The lack of highly reliable birth control also meant a set of institutions developed around dating and sex to create commitment: Couples would "go steady," then they would get "pinned," then they would get engaged. If you're pinned or engaged when you're 19 or 20 years old, you're not going to wait until you're 28 to get married. So a lot of women got married within a year or two of graduating college. That meant women who pursued a career also paid a penalty in the marriage market. But the pill made it possible for women who were "on the pill" to delay marriage, and that, in turn, created a "thicker" marriage market for all women to marry later and further lowered the cost to women of investing in a career."

Sunday, May 24, 2015

John Nash: 1928-2015. RIP

John and Alicia Nash have died in a car accident.

Here's the news story: Famed Princeton mathematician John Nash, wife killed in taxi crash

Here's the NY Times obituary: John F. Nash Jr., Mathematician Whose Life Story Inspired ‘A Beautiful Mind,’ Dies at 86

Same sex marriage becomes legal in Ireland, by popular vote

Ancient repugnances can be swept away in a matter of decades, and now it's Ireland's turn. The NY Times has the story: Ireland Votes to Approve Gay Marriage, Putting Country in Vanguard

 "Ireland has become the first nation to approve same-sex marriage by a popular vote, sweeping aside the opposition of the Roman Catholic Church in a resounding victory Saturday for the gay rights movement and placing the country at the vanguard of social change.

"With ballots from 34 out of the 43 voting areas counted, the vote was almost two to one in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage. All but one of the districts that were counted voted yes, and it appeared to be statistically impossible for opposition votes to overcome the ayes.

"Turnout was large — more than 60 percent of the 3.2 million people eligible to vote cast ballots. Government officials, advocates and even those who had argued against the measure said that the outcome was a resounding endorsement of the constitutional amendment.

"Not long ago, the vote would have been unthinkable. Ireland decriminalized homosexuality only in 1993, the church dominates the education system and abortion remains illegal except when a mother’s life is at risk. But the influence of the church has waned amid scandals in recent years, while attitudes, particularly among the young, have shifted.
Continue reading the main story

When Same-Sex Marriages Became Legal

About 20 countries have already legalized same-sex marriages. Here is a list of when each did.
The vote is also the latest chapter in a sharpening global cultural clash. Same-sex marriage is surging in the West, legal in 19 nations before the Irish vote and 37 American states, but almost always because of legislative or legal action. At the same time, gay rights are under renewed attack in Russia, in parts of Africa and from Islamic extremists, most notably the Islamic State.
The results in Ireland, announced on Saturday, showed wide and deep support for a measure that had dominated public discourse and dinner-table conversation, particularly in the months before the lead-up to the vote on Friday. Supporters celebrated in gatherings and on the streets, with the rainbow colors of the gay rights movement and Yes vote buttons conspicuously on display.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Ali Hortaçsu talks to the Turkish American Scientists & Scholars Association about market design

A Conversation with Ali Hortaçsu

"Our guest on this issue of The Bridge is Ali Hortacsu, Ralph and Mary Otis Isham Professor of Economics, University of Chicago.

The Bridge : Could you please give us a brief summary of your background?

Ali Hortaçsu : I was born in Istanbul in 1974 and grew up near Boğaziçi University where my parents are (emeritus) professors of chemical engineering. I went to Robert College for secondary school, and attended Stanford University, where I got my B.S. and M.S. in Electrical Engineering and my Ph.D. in Economics. I joined the University of Chicago Department of Economics as an assistant professor in 2001. I am currently the Ralph and Mary Otis Isham Professor of Economics there.

T.B. :  Could you also summarize your studies/research?  

A. H. : Most of my research falls under the rubric of "market design." Most economists believe markets are a wonderful method of allocating scarce resources and facilitating exchange. However, we know of many conditions under which markets can fail miserably; especially when market participants have incentives to strategize around the stated rules of the marketplace. What is needed, then, is a well-thought out re-writing of the "rules of the game" that takes into account the fact that many market participants are highly rational, strategic actors who will understand and game the system. How should we go about designing such rules? There is now an elegant and extremely well established body of theoretical knowledge on this topic, starting e.g. with the work of my Nobel winning colleague Roger Myerson. What we have learned over time, however, is that theory does not always give sharp answers as to what to do; the specific parameters of the particular system we are analyzing matters a lot. What I have tried to advance in my research is a "data driven" approach to market design, in which we utilize very detailed data from existing markets, estimate the relevant parameters using econometric/statistical methods, and simulate the parametrized behavior under a slew of alternative market rules to arrive at improved market designs. My collaborators and I have utilized this framework to help guide the design of many real world markets, including electricity markets, financial markets, online auctions, and even Internet matchmaking sites. I am also happy to see the econometric and simulation methods I have developed being used in many exciting applications in this domain.

T.B. :   Where do you see studies of your area of specialty in Turkey? What are your suggestions to improve the research in Turkey in this area?

A. H. :  "Market design" has a long and distinguished history in Turkey, especially with the theoretical work of Murat Sertel, Ahmet Alkan, and Semih Koray. Tayfun Sönmez and Utku Ünver, who are also pioneers in this area, did much of their trailblazing research while they were colleagues at Koç University. Although the tradition of market design research is very strong in Turkey, I think improving collaborations between theoretical researchers and market operators would be very beneficial from both the applied and scientific point of views."

Friday, May 22, 2015

Mohammad Akbarpour defends his dissertation

We welcomed a new market designer into the profession today:
Dave Kreps, Paul Milgrom, MOHAMMAD AKBARPOUR, Al Roth, Matt Jackson, Amin Saberi
I can't help noticing that most of the facial hair in this picture is gray and belongs to faculty members, while most of the head hair belongs to Mohammad:)

Welcome to the club, Mohammad!

The market for early book reviews: commercial, crowd sourced, and bootleg

My book, Who Gets What — and Why: The New Economics of Matchmaking and Market Design isn't due to be published until June 2.  But there are already some reviews, from commercial reviewers (Kirkus Reviews), from crowd sourced  reviews from Amazon, and at least one of what looks like a bootleg review from someone writing for Newsweek Europe, who may have ignored the label on the boxes of books warning folks to respect the June 2 "publication date" (the books will be in stores by then, so they are floating around).

The Amazon reviewing process is through what they call Vine Customer Review of Free Product, which they describe as follows:

"Amazon Vine invites the most trusted reviewers on Amazon to post opinions about new and pre-release items to help their fellow customers make informed purchase decisions. Amazon invites customers to become Vine Voices based on their reviewer rank, which is a reflection of the quality and helpfulness of their reviews as judged by other Amazon customers. Amazon provides Vine members with free products that have been submitted to the program by participating vendors. Vine reviews are the independent opinions of the Vine Voices. The vendor cannot influence, modify or edit the reviews. Amazon does not modify or edit Vine reviews, as long as they comply with our posting guidelines. A Vine review is identified with the green stripe Customer review from the Amazon Vine Program."

They classify the reviews as positive or critical, so far there are 15 positive and 1 critical, here's the critical one:
Showing 1-1 of 1 reviews (critical)show all reviews
1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free ProductWhat's this? )
Note: Advance Reading Copy

Alvin E. Roth, Nobel Prize laureate in economics has written a comfortable and conversational book explaining complex concepts of market design for the lay person. A more apt title, I think would be Problems, Challenges and Solutions in Market Design or Marketing Design for Dummies. “Who Gets What and Why” makes this book sound simple. It is not. It is also not for every casual reader with a mild curiosity.

Dr. Roth defines and explains the new economics of market design which he says brings science to matchmaking. He shows how market design helps solve problems that existing market places haven’t been able to solve naturally.

The author discusses his design of clearing houses for markets that are not commodity markets like: the kidney exchange; the medical labor market; new labor markets for Ph.D.s in economics and school choice systems in New York and Boston.

He defines the challenges and solutions and explains that to achieve efficient outcomes, market places need to make markets:

Thick: Those with enough potential transitions available at one time.
Congested: Enough time for offers to be made and/or accepted or rejected.
(and) Safe to participate in.

He defines matching markets where one can’t just choose, but must also be chosen.
He gives concrete examples to explain his concepts like attributes of three different kinds of restaurants. He discusses design inventions to make markets smarter, thicker and faster.

This book is detailed. It reads like Dr. Roth has taken pains to be clear about those details.

For more in dept discussion of market design you can watch Dr. Roth’s lecture at Stanford University on the web.

Thos book is not for everyone, but is worth the effort to gain new insight and understanding of markets and “Who Gets What.”