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.:

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