Saturday, April 30, 2016

April was National Donate Life Month

I received a variety of emails this past month related to National Donate Life Month, and I liked this image (from the Alliance for Paired Donation) the best:

Friday, April 29, 2016

Eric Maskin and Amartya Sen channel Condorcet on American and Indian politics, in the NY Times

How Majority Rule Might Have Stopped Donald Trump

Zurich celebrates Tuomas Sandholm: Symposium on Electronic Market Design

A symposium and more in honor of Tuomas Sandholm:


The symposium will take place at the Department of Education of the University of Zurich (building KAB), at Kantonsschulstrasse 3, 8001 Zurich in room G-01 (interactive map).
A map is available below.


14:00 - 15:00Prof. Tuomas Sandholm
Carnegie Mellon University, USA
Keynote: Journey and new results in combinatorial auctions, automated mechanism design for revenue maximization, and kidney exchanges
15:00 - 15:45Prof. Martin Bichler
TU Munich, Germany
All models are wrong, but some are useful: About spectrum auction design and challenges in market design
15:45 - 16:15Coffee Break
16:15 - 17:00Prof. Sven Seuken
University of Zurich, Switzerland
Designing better combinatorial auctions: Algorithms, incentives, and bidding languages
17:00 - 17:45Prof. Axel Ockenfels
University of Cologne, Germany
Engineering trust on eBay

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Stanford celebrates Paul Milgrom and the Incentive Auction "Dream Team"

New on the SIEPR webpage, by Krysten Crawford: To secure a mobile future, Stanford expert creates an auction like no other (the url is more informative than the headline:

"More than two decades ago, Stanford economist Paul Milgrom played a key role in the design of the first wireless spectrum auction. Since then, the framework he helped create has been used in more than 80 auctions in the United States, generated billions of dollars in government licensing fees — and been replicated around the world.

"So it made sense for the Federal Communications Commission to tap Milgrom in 2011 when the agency needed a new way to free up more broadband for mobile devices. It took him and a small band of fellow economists and computer scientists 18 months to design the auction, which finally opened last month after years of regulatory procedures, software development and presentations to potential bidders.

"When the auction ends later this year, the country’s wireless landscape will never look the same.
"For help, Milgrom pulled together an interdisciplinary “dream team” of top experts in economics and computer science: Jonathan Levin, also a SIEPR senior fellow and faculty member in economics; Ilya Segal, a professor of economics at Stanford; and Kevin Leyton-Brown, a computer scientist at the University of British Columbia who earned his PhD from Stanford."

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Hank Greely on future possibilities for human reproduction

One of the 2012 Nobel Laureates in Medicine was Shinya Yamanaka whose work allows stem cells to be generated from skin cells. My Stanford colleague Hank Greely has now written a book, The End of Sex and the Future of Human Reproduction, contemplating some of the possibilities--some of them possibly repugnant transactions--for human reproduction. Here's a Stanford news article: Changes in human reproduction raise legal, ethical issues, Stanford scholar says

"Yet, by the same token, the ability to make gametes from skin cells might have some undesirable consequences. For example, Greely pointed out that someone could take a paper coffee cup that you casually tossed in the trash and turn you into a parent without your knowledge or consent.
“We probably need some laws to deal with that; unconsenting parenthood seems like a bad idea,” Greely said. 

Complicated questions

One possibility he proposes would be to require documentation of the provenance of any cells used to derive eggs or sperm.
“I think there are a lot of complicated questions, and for some of them, there is no particular law book to turn to,” Greely said.
Fairness is a central issue, Greely said. What if some people have access to the technology and others don’t? He predicts that in rich countries this child-making process will be subsidized, making it effectively free for prospective parents.
“In part,” he said, that will happen “because it will save the health care system a lot of money. You don’t need to prevent the births of very many really sick babies to pay for hundreds or thousands of attempts at making babies through easy PGD.”
But even so, there will certainly be international disparities, and possibly national ones as well. 

People with disabilities

Greely also raises challenging issues with respect to people with disabilities.
“If you’ve got a genetic disease and this means far fewer people are going to be born with your disease, well, in one sense that’s a good thing, but in another sense that lowers the research interest in your disease, the social support for your disease, and it kind of says your society thinks you shouldn’t have been born,” he said.
Citing the examples of heritable deafness and dwarfism, he noted that it’s plausible that parents would want a child like them.
“If a parent deafened a living baby, we’d certainly take the baby away and we’d prosecute the parent. If parents choose an embryo because it’s deaf, like themselves, in order to preserve deaf culture from genocide, what do we do then?”
Greely seeks to spark broad discussions about policies regarding these issues.
“I think something that changes the way we conceive babies affects everyone in such basic ways that it’s not a topic that should be left solely to the law professors or to the bioethicists or to the ob-gyns or to the fertility clinics,” he said.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Theory and application, and age...

An op-ed yesterday by Manil Suri in the NY Times, celebrating the 90th birthday of the mathematician Ivo Babuska, was in part a meditation on "pure" versus applied math, that should ring a bell for economists and game theorists too: The Mathematician’s 90th-Birthday Party.

Suri contrasts Babuska's career with the famous views of G.H. Hardy (he of "A Mathematician's Apology")

"Hardy believed that the only important questions in the field arose internally from this game, that the sole purpose of a mathematician was to create beautiful and “almost wholly useless” theorems.

"But ever since its inception, mathematics has also been driven by another powerful force: applications. From the early commerce and measurement needs that motivated the Sumerians to the subject’s symbiotic co-development with physics, mathematical inquiry has been spurred by questions from external fields. Although Hardy disparaged any math that could be applied to real life as “ugly,” “dull” and “trivial,” surely usefulness should be an additional measure for a mathematician’s worth?
"Hardy dismissed exposition as “work for second-rate minds,” but such activity is critical for a field notoriously inept at communicating its results to outsiders.

"It’s of course unfair to criticize Hardy, given how much the world has changed since his day. The division he created between “beautiful but useless” and “useful but ugly” mathematics has long been breached; even his own “useless” research area of number theory has become essential in cryptography and cybersecurity. Conversely, many elegant and aesthetically pleasing mathematical theories have emerged from the most utilitarian applications — even from the analysis of machine parts, as I can personally attest.

"Let’s cherish Hardy’s theorems, not his opinions, and recognize mathematics as a field with diverse goals and needs, where people can expect to make useful contributions regardless of gender or age."

Monday, April 25, 2016

The first successful heart-lung transplantation

"On March 9, 1981, just minutes past midnight, Mary Gohlke, a 45-year-old Arizona woman dying of primary pulmonary hypertension, was wheeled into a Stanford Hospital operating room for a heart-lung transplant surgery that would become a medical milestone.
"Lung transplants were technically feasible, but no human lung transplant patient had survived more than 23 days. The only antirejection drugs then approved for use interfered with the healing of the surgical wounds where new lungs connected to the patient’s airway. After Gohlke read a newspaper story about the successful heart-lung transplants Stanford cardiothoracic surgeon Bruce Reitz, MD, had done on rhesus monkeys, she telephoned him. Reitz took the call. She asked him how many heart-lung transplants he planned to do that year on humans. He said 10. She told him she’d like to be the tenth so she “could see how the rest of them turn out,” and Reitz responded with a chuckle.

"The holdup, however, was the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. It had approved a better antirejection drug, cyclosporin A, for heart-transplant patients, but not for other transplant patients.  Stanford had asked the FDA to approve cyclosporin A for heart-lung transplant patients, too — and then waited and waited. Gohlke, increasingly desperate, asked her former boss, the executive editor of the Mesa Tribune, to help. He made calls to then-U.S. Sen. Dennis DeConcini, D-Arizona, and about an hour later the FDA approved the drug for use in heart-lung transplantation at all qualified hospitals. Gohlke received her new heart and lungs — becoming the first patient in the world to undergo a successful heart-lung transplant — and lived for five years with her new organs."

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Discriminatory pricing for discriminatory services

I remember initially being surprised that security lines at airlines would be shorter for higher fare travelers, but Americans are getting used to class distinctions. The NY Times has this story, focused on cruise ships: In an Age of Privilege, Not Everyone Is in the Same Boat: "Companies are becoming adept at identifying wealthy customers and marketing to them, creating a money-based caste system."

"In theory, according to Steve Tadelis, a professor of economics at the Haas School of Business at Berkeley, “when an industry is able to create a richer line of products for people looking to spend their money, that makes everybody happier. But getting it right in reality is very, very hard.”

"As companies separate their clientele, a debate has developed over just how obvious the distinctions should be. Some experts, like David Clarke, who works with leisure industry giants as a principal at PricewaterhouseCoopers, say that it is best to be open about what amounts to a money-based caste system.

“It’s about transparency,” he said. “What customers hate is when you’re trying to hide stuff and are not being honest with them.”

"Many companies, though, have discovered that offering ordinary customers just a whiff of the rarefied air can actually enhance the bottom line, even if it stirs a certain amount of envy and resentment.
"Even though this kind of pampering might be good for business, and delight those on the right side of the velvet rope, the gap between the privileged and the rest may ultimately leave everyone feeling uneasy, said Barry J. Nalebuff, a professor of management at Yale.

“If I’m in the back of the plane, I want to hiss at the people in first class,” said Mr. Nalebuff, who has advised many Fortune 100 companies. “If I’m up front, I cringe as people walk by.”

Saturday, April 23, 2016

The Engineer as Economist (in Danish)

Here's a Danish article on market design, motivated by the design of electricity markets among others:
Ingeniøren som markedsdesigner   (The Engineer as market designer)
Af Rasmus Jenle

Google Translate renders the final paragraph as follows:

"Now the engineer then stepped into the role of market designer. This raises a number of important questions. How and to what extent will the involvement of market design affect the engineering profession? What will it do for the use, understanding and the effects of markets that now they are designed by engineers and implemented as control systems? How could go on. One thing is certain: the Polytechnic is not what it has been."

Friday, April 22, 2016

Refugees and Passover

And you shall not mistreat a stranger, nor shall you oppress him, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.כוְגֵר לֹא תוֹנֶה וְלֹא תִלְחָצֶנּוּ כִּי גֵרִים הֱיִיתֶם בְּאֶרֶץ מִצְרָיִם:

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Jim Friedman, 1936-2016

Andrej Svorencik conveys the sad news in a post to the ESA mailing list:

"it has come to my attention that Jim Friedman passed away earlier this year after a short illness.

Although he is best known in the wider economics community for his contributions to game theory, he was an early adopter of the experimental method. He graduated from Yale in 1963 where he wrote one of the earliest economics dissertations that used experiments. His research on oligopoly experiments continued throughout the 1960s and culminated in joint work with Austin Hoggatt. Their research was conducted in a computerized lab at Berkeley and eventually appeared under the title 'An Experiment in Noncooperative Oligopoly' as a supplement to the first volume of the series Research in Experimental Economics a decade later in 1980.

He was a Fellow of the Econometric Society and served as associate editor of Econometrica from 1975–81.

Further information: "

College admissions, multiple applications, and signaling via "demonstrated interest"

The NY Times has two related stories, let's start with this one:Greater Competition for College Places Means Higher Anxiety, Too

"Though this year’s data is still largely anecdotal, applications at more than 70 percent of colleges have increased for 10 of the past 15 years.

"The number of students using the Common Application — an online application that can be submitted to multiple schools at the flick of a credit card — rose to 920,000 through mid-April, compared with 847,000 at the same time last year, said Aba Blankson, a spokeswoman for the Common Application.

"Students continue to apply to multiple colleges; the overall average is 4.4 applications, though many students apply to many more, Ms. Blankson said. As of 2013, 32 percent of students applied to seven or more schools, according to the National Association for College Admission Counseling.

"Charter school students in New England submitted the most applications, at nearly seven per student, followed closely by private school students in New England and the Middle States (a category including Washington, D.C., Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands), with more than six applications each, Ms. Blankson said. Home schoolers and public school students in the South and Southwest submitted the fewest, about three each.

"While colleges celebrate their record-setting applicant pools, high school guidance counselors take a dimmer view. Bruce Poch, the dean of admission and executive director of college counseling at Chadwick School, in Palos Verdes Peninsula, Calif., said admissions had turned into more of a lottery, as students express their fears of rejection by applying to more institutions.

“It is seen by them as more and more something they can’t control, a crapshoot, so they pile them up,” Mr. Poch said. “The multiples are at the, quote, most selective places.”
"At the most elite institutions, the rate of acceptance grew even more restricted. Harvard reported more than 39,041 applicants this year, compared with more than 37,307 last year. It admitted a record low 5.2 percent, compared with 5.3 percent last year, accepting 2,037 students. Yale said it had its largest-ever applicant pool, 31,455, and offered admission to 1,972 students, or 6.3 percent.

"Stanford University offered admission to 2,063 students out of 43,997 candidates, a selectivity rate of 4.7 percent.

The competition is also hard on colleges trying to predict who will ultimately attend. So as insurance, waiting lists have grown. For example, Yale put 1,095 students on its waiting list, more than half the number it admitted."

Here's a related story:  Common Application Saturates the College Admissions Market, Critics Say

"Admissions experts point to a trend called application inflation. Students are sending off more applications than ever. In 1990, just 9 percent of students applied to seven or more schools, according to the National Association for College Admission Counseling. By 2013, that group had grown to 32 percent.
"To ensure that freshmen classes are filled, “somehow, those institutions have to compensate,” said David Hawkins, the association’s director of public policy.

"They do that, he said, in part by accepting more students. They are also marketing their campuses more aggressively to widen the applicant pool while, when making admissions decisions, putting greater weight on how serious students are about attending.

"In the latest association survey, colleges attributed more importance to applicants’ so-called demonstrated interest than in class rank or teacher recommendations.

"At the same time, more and more universities are waiving application fees or buying the names of desirable students from testing agencies and sending them “fast track” applications that require little more than a signature."

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Efficiency of thin and thick markets, by Li Gan and Qi Li

Here's the published version of a paper by Li Gan and Qi Li on why it's good to be in a thick market...

Volume 192, Issue 1, May 2016, Pages 40–54

Efficiency of thin and thick markets 


In this paper, we propose a matching model to study the efficiency of thin and thick markets. Our model shows that the probabilities of matches in a thin market are significantly lower than those in a thick market. When applying our results to a job search model, it implies that, if the ratio of job candidates to job openings remains (roughly) a constant, the probability that a person can find a job is higher in a thick market than in a thin market. We apply our matching model to the U.S. academic market for new PhD economists. Consistent with the prediction of our model, a field of specialization with more job openings and more candidates has a higher probability of matching.

1. Introduction

In this paper, we are interested in the following question: Compare two markets, one of which has five candidates and five openings in five firms (each firm has one opening), and the other of which has fifty candidates and fifty openings. Which market has a lower average unemployment rate or a higher probability of successful match? The market with a lower unemployment rate is said to be more efficient than the one with a higher unemployment rate.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Informal poll of transplant professionals on contemplating compensation for kidney donors

When I spoke in February at the American Society of Transplantation Cutting Edge of Transplantation Conference,  they used a technology that allowed audience members to be polled at their seats and have the answers immediately tabulated.  The conference recently sent out a mailing of those polls, and here are the two questions I asked, and the replies they received from the approximately 200 transplant professionals in the audience (a self-selected group who had elected to attend a session entitled "Removing Disincentives and Exploring Controversies of Incentives").

The point I try to make when I ask this pair of questions is that many people answer the two questions differently. Part of what we all need to do in understanding and negotiating different understandings of which transactions are and should be repugnant is to note that many people find some transactions repugnant, and it's important to try understand not only your own answers to these questions but other people's as well...

Monday, April 18, 2016

The California marijuana market: the hippies now have to compete with the agribusinesses

The NY Times has the story: In California, Marijuana Is Smelling More Like Big Business

"After decades of thriving in legally hazy backyards and basements, California’s most notorious crop, marijuana, is emerging from the underground into a decidedly capitalist era.

Under a new state law, marijuana businesses will be allowed to turn a profit — which has been forbidden since 1996, when California became the first state to legalize medical cannabis — and limits on the number of plants farmers can grow will be eliminated.

The opening of the marijuana industry here to corporate dollars has caused a mad scramble, with out-of-state investors, cannabis retailers and financially struggling municipalities all racing to grab a piece of what is effectively a new industry in California: legalized, large-scale marijuana farming.

And with voters widely expected to approve recreational marijuana use in November, California, already the world’s largest legal market for marijuana, gleams with the promise of profits far beyond what pot shops and growers have seen in Washington or Colorado, the first states to approve recreational use.
"Amid the frenzy, though, anxiety is growing in some corners of the state that corporate money will squeeze out not only the small-time growers, but also the hippie values that have been an essential part of marijuana’s place in California culture.

"Tommy Chong, of Cheech and Chong fame, has long been synonymous with California’s outlaw stoner culture, growing his own pot and crafting bongs from kombucha bottles at his Los Angeles home. Now he is negotiating with a corporate partner to license his own brand of legal marijuana.
"Twenty-three states* allow some form of legal marijuana, and up to 20 will consider ballot measures this year to further ease restrictions."


Sunday, April 17, 2016

Crowdsourcing City Government, by Glaeser, Hillis, Kominers, and Luca

Crowdsourcing City Government:Using Tournaments to Improve Inspection AccuracyBy Edward L. Glaeser, Andrew Hillis, Scott Duke Kominers, and Michael Luca

The Papers and Proceedings version doesn't have an abstract, but here's one from the NBER working paper:

Can open tournaments improve the quality of city services? The proliferation of big data makes it possible to use predictive analytics to better target services like hygiene inspections, but city governments rarely have the in-house talent needed for developing prediction algorithms. Cities could hire consultants, but a cheaper alternative is to crowdsource competence by making data public and offering a reward for the best algorithm. This paper provides a simple model suggesting that open tournaments dominate consulting contracts when cities have a reasonable tolerance for risk and when there is enough labor with low opportunity costs of time. We also illustrate how tournaments can be successful, by reporting on a Boston-based restaurant hygiene prediction tournament that we helped coordinate. The Boston tournament yielded algorithms—at low cost—that proved reasonably accurate when tested “out-of-sample” on hygiene inspections occurring after the algorithms were submitted. We draw upon our experience in working with Boston to provide practical suggestions for governments and other organizations seeking to run prediction tournaments in the future.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

More press (and radio) from my visit to Germany last month, in German

Here's a recent German review of the German translation of my book which comes with an audio link, also in German, on the program  DeutchlandRadio Kultur:
Alvin E. Roth: "Wer kriegt was und warum?"
Wenn der Mensch sich selbst zu Markte trägt
Von Wolfgang Schneider

Alvin E. Roth: Wer kriegt was und warum? Bildung, Jobs und Partnerwahl
Aus dem amerikanischen Englisch von Thorsten Schmidt. 
Siedler Verlag. München 2016. 304 Seiten, 24,99 Euro

The audio link also is here:

Here's Austrian radio:  Wer kriegt was und warum?
Von Wirtschaftsnobelpreisträger Alvin Roth

There's a link to the audio there, on which you can hear the interview in German (with voiceover for my parts...)

Here's an  account, published nearer the time of my visit, of an interview in Cologne, by the Aueddeutsche Zeitung

18. März 2016, 19:00 Uhr
Matching Point--Mensch und Markt
Der Nobelpreisträger Alvin E. Roth erforscht, wie Märkte funktionieren und wie sie das ganze Leben prägen.
Google Translate renders the headline this way:
[March 18, 2016,
Matching Point--Man and market
The Nobel Prize winner Alvin E. Roth examines how markets work and how they shape the whole life.]

Friday, April 15, 2016

Lloyd Shapley, obituary in Nature

A  one page obit of Lloyd Shapley is here: 
Lloyd Shapley (1923–2016), Alvin E. Roth
Nature 532, 178 (14 April 2016) doi:10.1038/532178a
Published online 13 April 2016

A founding father of game theory.

RAND Corporation
Lloyd Stowell Shapley made profound contributions to almost every area of game theory — a field of mathematics that tries to understand how people's choices influence others'. His findings have been applied to all sorts of settings, from politics to hospitals. His whimsically titled 1962 paper — 'On College Admissions and the Stability of Marriage'— published in The American Mathematical Monthly and co-authored with the late mathematician David Gale, won Shapley the 2012 Nobel prize in economics, which I shared with him.
Shapley, who died on 12 March, was born in 1923 in Cambridge, Massachusetts, to the astronomer Harlow Shapley and his wife Martha. He pursed a mathematics degree at Harvard University in Cambridge. In 1943, during his third year and at the height of the Second World War, he was drafted into the US Army. In his years of service, he worked at an air base in China and won the Bronze Star, a US military decoration, for breaking a code for Soviet weather reports.
After the war, Shapley graduated from Harvard and worked for two years at the RAND Corporation, which at the time provided research and analysis to the US military. There, he began his work on game theory and came to the attention of the field's founder, John von Neumann.
In 1949, Shapley entered the PhD programme in mathematics at Princeton University in New Jersey — then a hotbed for game theory. There, he overlapped with the mathematician John Nash and the economist Martin Shubik (who would become his long-term collaborator), among many others. Shapley rejoined RAND in 1954, and stayed with the organization for 27 years. In 1981, he moved to the University of California, Los Angeles, where he retired in 2001.
Game theory describes any situation in which the pay-offs that participants receive from their actions are at least partly determined by the actions of other people. Shapley was one of the first to formulate and study the 'core of the game' — the set of outcomes (consequences for everyone in the group) with the property that no coalition of players can do better for themselves by coordinating to produce a different outcome.
Not every game has a core outcome. But for those that do, it often indicates how competition will play out. Shapley's paper with Gale explored this concept in the context of two-sided 'matching games' (D. Gale and L. S. Shapley Am. Math. Mon. 69, 6–15; 1962). In these situations, two sets of players (in the paper, boys and girls seeking marriages, and colleges seeking students and students seeking colleges) have preferences about whom they would like to match with.
In a simple model of one-to-one matching — as applies when each player seeks one spouse, for instance — the core outcomes are those that are stable. After everyone in the game has chosen, there are no pairs (of girls and boys, in the 1960s partnering example) who are not matched to each other but would both prefer to be.
In a note written to Shapley in 1960, Gale asked, “For any pattern of preferences, is it possible to find a stable set of marriages?” Shapley gave his answer in a letter to him: “Let each boy propose to his best girl. Let each girl with several proposals reject all but her favorite, but defer acceptance until she is sure no one better will come her way. The rejected boys then propose to their next-best choices, and so on, until there are no girls with more than one suitor. Marry. The result is stable, since the extramarital liaisons that were previously rejected will be disliked by the girl partners, while all others will be disliked by the boy partners.”
Thus was born the 'deferred acceptance algorithm', variants of which are used today to assign US medical graduates to their first jobs, and children to state schools in a growing number of US cities.
Other work from the 1970s by Shapley and the late economist Herbert Scarf on the money-free exchange of indivisible goods ('barter exchange') later helped to organize kidney transplants when donors cannot directly donate to the patient of their choice because of incompatibilities. And starting in the 1990s, Shapley's ideas about two-sided matching and extended barter exchange led to a branch of economic engineering called market design, which seeks to find practical ways to fix broken markets.
In the early 1960s, Shapley and John Milnor (an undergraduate at Princeton when Shapley was a graduate student) initiated the study of 'oceanic games'. In these, there is an 'ocean' of many small players each alone having insignificant influence, so only the actions of people en masse can affect the overall outcome. He later explored these with Robert Aumann, another Nobel economics laureate, in their volume Values of Non-Atomic Games (RAND Corporation, 1968).
Although Lloyd and I shared the Nobel prize, we never worked together. But his work was fundamental to my own — for instance, on the practical design of marketplaces. He was a forbidding presence at meetings; I suspect shyness was to blame for his apparent fierceness.
There is a crater on the Moon named Shapley, in honour of Lloyd's astronomer dad. In game theory, Lloyd will likewise be remembered for the mammoth impact he had on the field.

The details of the letter from Shapley to Gale were lost in copyediting: the letter was  dated 11 October 1960 (and was shared with me by Lloyd’s son Peter)


Thursday, April 14, 2016

Markets for glass, in Israel, in Roman times

YNet has the story:

"A first-of-its-kind accidental discovery of ancient glass kilns at the foot of Mt. Carmel demonstrates that Israel was at the center of the global glass trade during the late Roman period, the Israel Antiquities Authority announced on Monday.

"The extraordinary kilns, which are approximately 1,600 years old, are “the earliest found in Israel and the missing link for the production and export of glass,” Yael Gorin-Rosen, head curator of the Israel Antiquities Authority Glass Department, told Tazpit Press Service (TPS).
“The Valley of Acre was renowned for the excellent quality of sand located there, which was highly suitable for the manufacturing of glass” she explained. This glass traveled the ancient world, Gorin-Rosen said, noting that vessels made in Israel were “discovered at sites in Europe and in shipwrecks in the Mediterranean basin.”

“Now, for the first time, the kilns have been found where the raw material was manufactured,” Gorin-Rosen said.
"An edict issued by the Roman emperor Diocletian in the early fourth century CE, refers to two kinds of glass: Judean and Alexandrian. The Judean glass, originating from Israel, was a light green color and less expensive than its contemporary Egyptian, Alexandrian counterpart."

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Matching for refugee resettlement in the Washington Post

An interview in the Washington Post with Will Jones and Alexander Teytelboym about building a matching market for refugees in Europe:
Europe’s asylum system serves neither the refugees nor the countries. Here’s a new way of thinking about it.

See my coverage of the earlier coverage of their proposal:    Refugee resettlement as a matching problem in the NY Times

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

EU to set out proposals for overhaul of European asylum rules

The Guardian has the story:
EU to set out proposals for overhaul of European asylum rules
European commission will publish paper suggesting changes after migration crisis left current Dublin regulation unworkable

"EU authorities in Brussels will unveil long-awaited proposals to overhaul European asylum rules, following the arrival of more than 1.1 million refugees and migrants last year.
The rules, known as the Dublin regulation and dating back to the 1990s, require refugees to seek asylum in the first country they arrive in. 
This system has been under strain for years, and was finished off last August when the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, said all Syrian refugees would be eligible to claim asylum in Germany.
A policy paper to be published by the European commission on Wednesday and seen by the Guardian states that the current crisis has exposed “significant structural weaknesses and shortcomings in the design and implementation of European asylum and migration policy”.
"The European commission will propose two options, which still have to be agreed by EU member states. The widely trailed option of scrapping the Dublin rules remains: under this proposal the EU would have a mandatory redistribution system for asylum seekers based on a country’s wealth and ability to absorb newcomers.
A second option would preserve the existing Dublin rules, but add a “corrective fairness mechanism” so refugees could be redistributed around the bloc in times of crisis to take the pressure off frontline arrival states.
The “corrective fairness mechanism” would be based on an existing scheme, where member states have agreed to resettle 160,000 Syrian refugees from Greece and Italy to other EU countries. But in the first six months of operation, barely 1,000 refugees have been resettled under the scheme, raising questions about its viability."

Monday, April 11, 2016

Using deceased donor kidneys to start living donor kidney exchange chains

In American kidney exchange, living non-directed kidney donors initiate chains that produce an average of five transplants.Deceased donor kidneys are also non-directed, but produce one transplant each.  Here's the abstract for a forthcoming paper in the American Journal of Transplantation (AJT), suggesting that it would be helpful to use some deceased donor kidneys to initiate nondirected donor chains:

Abstract: We propose that some deceased donor (DD) kidneys be allocated to initiate nonsimultaneous extended altruistic donor chains of living donor (LD) kidney transplants to address, in part, the huge disparity between patients on the DD kidney waitlist and available donors. The use of DD kidneys for this purpose would benefit waitlisted candidates in that most patients enrolled in kidney paired donation (KPD) systems are also waitlisted for a DD kidney transplant, and receiving a kidney through the mechanism of KPD will decrease pressure on the DD pool. In addition, a LD kidney usually provides survival potential equal or superior to that of DD kidneys. If KPD chains that are initiated by a DD can end in a donation of an LD kidney to a candidate on the DD waitlist, the quality of the kidney allocated to a waitlisted patient is likely to be improved. We hypothesize that a pilot program would show a positive impact on patients of all ethnicities and blood types.

Here's the link to the journal page

  1. M. L. Melcher1
  2. J. P. Roberts2,*
  3. A. B. Leichtman3
  4. A. E. Roth4 and
  5. M. A. Rees5,6
Article first published online: 9 MAR 2016
DOI: 10.1111/ajt.13740

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Kidney donors honored among Israeli heroes who saved lives

Here's a story from Israel, in which kidney donors are honored along with others who performed life-saving acts of heroism:

2016 Independence Day ceremony to honor terror victims, rescuers
14 honorees named to light torches, under banner of 'courageous citizens'; many saved lives during war, terror.

"Culture Minister Miri Regev (Likud) approved the fourteen honorees for the annual Yom Ha'atzmaut (Independence Day) torch-lighting ceremony on Wednesday - this year, with the theme of "courageous citizens."

"The uniqueness of courage is that it doesn't distinguish between religion, ethnicity, or gender," Regev stated.
[the honorees include...]

"Nili and Moish Levi, Modi'in residents in their fifties. Dr. Nili Levi is a speech therapist and a lecturer on ethics in academic institutions; and Moish Levy, a lawyer by profession, heads the Gvanim organization, which has spread religious education in Israel. The Levis, who have furthered joint religious-secular education in Israel, educate their three children according to those values. In 2015, the Levis decided to donate a kidney to patients "who need it most," sight unseen; the act brought to light the importance of organ donation in Israel."

HT: Inbal Cohen

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Living heart donation

Living kidney donation is common (healthy people have two kidneys and can remain healthy with one). Living heart donation is rare, but not unheard of: when I look at the OPTN data I see 40 heart transplants from living donors since 1988, 12 of them in 1990.  (By contrast there have been just under 65,000 heart transplants from deceased donors in that time.)

Here's a report on the latest, which explains what's going on.

After rare procedure, woman can hear her heart beat in another

"The first thing Linda Karr asked her doctor after her heart transplant surgery at Stanford Hospital was, “How is my heart donor doing?”

"That question is as exceptionally rare as the surgery that made it possible. On Feb. 1, as part of a “domino” procedure, Karr received the heart of Tammy Griffin, who received a new heart and lungs from a deceased donor.
"Organs available for transplant are in short supply. Heart-lung combinations are even more rare because a set of heart and lungs is usually split up so that the organs can benefit two people instead of just one. Domino transplantation of a heart-lung and heart does, however, benefit two people. A highly unusual procedure, it has only been performed at Stanford eight times before, last in 1994.

For Griffin, who has cystic fibrosis, receiving new lungs was critical. Her lung capacity had diminished so much that she was on oxygen full time, unable to do much at all. She had so little energy that she couldn’t get through a shower without sitting down to rest.

Her heart, however, was still functioning well. “Her heart was an innocent bystander pushed out of its normal position in the middle of the lungs as her right lung shrank and the left one expanded,” said Joseph Woo, MD, a cardiothoracic surgeon at Stanford Health Care who oversaw and coordinated the surgical teams that conducted the domino procedure. That displacement made a heart-lung transplant the only viable option for Griffin, said Woo, who is also professor and chair of cardiothoracic surgery at Stanford School of Medicine."

Friday, April 8, 2016

Who Gets What and Why, in Turkish: Kim Neyi Neden Alır?

The Turkish translation of Who Gets What and Why is now available:

Kim Neyi Neden Alır?

Here's what appears to be a pre-publication review.

And here's what appears to be an early review of the published book:

Eşleştirme Ekonomisi ve kim, neyi, neden alır?

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Lloyd Shapley: an intellectual obituary

Here's the link to  my necessarily brief intellectual obituary of Lloyd Shapley, published in Vox EU yesterday:

Lloyd Shapley: A founding giant of game theory

Here are the first paragraphs...:

"Lloyd Shapley was one of the founding giants of game theory. He shared the 2012 Nobel Prize in Economicsfor his seminal work with the late David Gale on stable matching – situations in which there are no two agents who would prefer one another over their current counterparts. But he could have won a Nobel for any of a number of his papers that initiated whole literatures.
In addition to being one of the very first to formulate and study the core of a game, which was intimately related to his work on matching, he invented the Shapley value for evaluating games with side payments, which he and Martin Shubik showed could also be used in studying voting and political processes. He and John Milnor initiated the study of games with a continuum of players (‘oceanic games’), a subject that he later explored in depth with Robert Aumann; his paper on ‘stochastic games’ initiated the study of Markov decision processes as well as Markov games; and he contributed deep insights about learning in games and the structure of markets.
At a time when game theory was viewed as addressing two fairly distinct kinds of situations – cooperative games (in which models focus on what coalitions could accomplish if they agree) and non-cooperative games (which focus on individual players’ strategic choices) – Shapley made fundamental contributions to both."
and the last paragraph:
"No brief account can summarise Lloyd Shapley’s intellectual life and career, which was among the most fertile of the 20th century. He opened up vast areas to be explored by those who followed. To pick just an area in which I have worked, a few of his foundational ideas – the core, two-sided matching, and exchange in cycles of trade – have led to the study of matching markets, and to a thriving branch of practical market design, which is the engineering part of game theory."

Update: That obituary has been reprinted on the Lindau site, here, with this photo by Peter Badge from his ‘Nobel Portraits’ series.: