Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Milgrom Marshall Lectures at University of Cambridge

Paul Milgrom will be giving the 2019-2020 Marshall Lectures at Cambridge today and tomorrow.  Here's a video abstract by Paul:

2019-20 Marshall Lecture by Professor Paul Milgrom

Paul Milgrom is best known for his contributions to the microeconomic theory, his pioneering innovations in the practical design of multi-item auctions, and the extraordinary successes of his students and academic advisees. According to his BBVA Award citation: “Paul Milgrom has made seminal contributions to an unusually wide range of fields of economics including auctions, market design, contracts and incentives, industrial economics, economics of organizations, finance, and game theory.” According to a count by Google Scholar, Milgrom’s books and articles have received more than 90,000 citations. - Professor Milgrom's Personal Site >>

 Professor Paul Milgrom
(Stanford Department of Economics)
will give two lectures on,
"Market Design When Resource Allocation is NP-Hard"

Venue: Lady Mitchell Hall

Tuesday 19th November 2019
5.00pm to 6.00pm
Wednesday 20th November 2019
5.00pm to 6.30pm
I'll update when Paul's lectures are available.
(In the meantime, here are my 2013-2014 Marshall Lectures on "Matching Markets and Market Design )

Monday, November 18, 2019

Interview with Parag Pathak on schools, and market design

From Business Insider:
Parents choosing high schools for their kids place more value on the students already enrolled than on the school's effectiveness, according to a study by MIT economist Parag Pathak

"A solution to school matching might be attainable, but the bigger challenge remains. "It's a success in terms of matching systems getting out there," Pathak said. "But it shines a spotlight on bigger problem - the scarcity of good schools."
"The rise of "market-design economics" has attracted a new type of person to the profession, he said. "Our folks are much more humble. We really like to get our hands dirty from very real problems," he added. "The mindset is more of an engineer — how would we put those ideas to use in actually building something in society?"

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Liver Paired Exchange: Ready for Prime Time in North America?

An editorial in the November 2019 Liver Transplantation considers, among other things, how liver exchange might be more coercive than live liver donation, because real or imagined incompatibilities might no longer serve to excuse an ambivalent donor from going through with the donation. (I recall discussions like this at the outset of kidney exchange, and my sense is that, in those days, the doctors thought that they could still excuse ambivalent donors by indicating that they weren't healthy enough to donate...)

Liver Paired Exchange: Ready for Prime Time in North America?
Talia B. Baker M.D

"The evolution of kidney paired exchange (KPE) in the United States has expanded transplant options for ABO‐incompatible and human leukocyte antigen–incompatible living donor pairs.1 The success of KPE has prompted consideration of liver paired exchange (LPE). Although the idea seems promising, its application has been limited to a handful of centers in Asia.2-4
"In the United States, approximately 3,000 patients are removed from the liver waiting list each year because they become too ill or die prior to transplant.7 Although living donor liver transplantation (LDLT) is established as the primary source of donor allografts in many parts of Asia, it constitutes approximately only 4% of liver transplants in the United States.7 The potential number of living donor and recipient pairs that might be suitable for LPE in the United States is unknown and largely unexplored.
"The indications for LPE are more complex than in KPE where immunological factors drive the process. In LPE, anatomical factors, such as hepatic mass (ie, graft‐to‐recipient weight ratio and percent of future liver remnant), and anatomical considerations, such as arterial and biliary variants, will also importantly be considered.
"coercion, which remains one of the greatest ethical concerns for the evaluation of any living donor, will have to be considered in a more robust manner. Concerns about coercion may be exacerbated by indirect exchanges, such as in LPE, because a reluctant or hesitant donor may no longer be able to invoke ABO incompatibility, size, or anatomical incompatibility as a reasonable and accepted way to withdraw from consideration as a living donor.9 ...
"Often, transplant centers are able to select the most willing donors based on their commitment to step forward, expressing unwavering interest and determination to donate. This system inherently allows willing, but ambivalent, donors to be excused based on objective medical measures (most commonly ABO incompatibility or anatomical issues) without having to admit their ambivalence. In contrast, LPE may remove or limit this potential by offering alternative options for exchanges, thereby inadvertently exposing or subjugating ambivalent donors. "

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Is repugnance to foie gras contagious?

The Guardian has the story from the UK, focusing on a particular restaurant, and its proprietor, who has withstood protests:

Pressure grows on British chefs after New York bans foie gras
Restaurateurs and MPs are turning against the delicacy after years of intense animal rights protests

"New York’s authorities have decided to ban shops and restaurants from selling it and campaigners want London – indeed, the whole of Britain – to follow suit.

“Banning it is a fad,” he says. “New York is just following a fad, going with the flow. If it is ethically raised, then I don’t see a problem. If they are [forcibly] fed on an industrial scale, I think that’s wrong. But the foie gras we serve comes from a family who look after their geese.”

"His stance is not one that most animal welfare campaigners agree with. Making foie gras generally relies on force-feeding ducks or geese for about two weeks, causing their livers to expand dramatically. Some farmers claim force-feeding – known as gavage – is unnecessary, but in France, where 98% of the foie gras eaten in Britain is made, a pâté can only be called foie gras if gavage is used."

Recent related post:

Friday, November 1, 2019

Friday, November 15, 2019

Controversial markets: Seminar at Pitt

I'll be speaking at Pitt today, in the experimental/behavioral seminar:

Controversial Markets

11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., 4940 Posvar Hall
Sponsor: Experimental/Behavioral Seminar

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Correlation Neglect in Student-to-School Matching, by Rees-Jones, Shorrer, and Tergiman

Suppose it is costly to apply to schools (perhaps because you are only allowed n applications, and have a larger set of schools you are interested in.)  Now suppose that your first choice is Yale and your second is Harvard. Should you apply to both?  How about if it is the case that, if Yale rejects you, Harvard probably will too?  That turns out to be harder for many people to figure out than you might think...

Correlation Neglect in Student-to-School Matching
Alex Rees-Jones, Ran I. Shorrer, and Chloe Tergiman

A growing body of evidence suggests that decision-makers fail to account for correlation in signals that they receive. We study the relevance of this mistake in students' interactions with school- choice matching mechanisms. In a lab experiment presenting simple and incentivized school-choice scenarios, we find that subjects tend to follow optimal application strategies when schools' admissions decisions are determined independently. However, when schools rely on a common priority — inducing correlation in their decisions — decision making suffers: application strategies become substantially more aggressive and fail to include attractive "safety" options. We document that this pattern holds even within-subject, with significant fractions of participants applying to different programs in mathematically equivalent situations that differ only by the presence of correlation. We provide a battery of tests suggesting that this phenomenon is at least partially driven by correlation neglect, and we discuss implications that arise for the design and deployment of student-to-school matching mechanisms.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Controversial markets, from kidneys to marijuana at the SF Surgical Society

This evening I'll speak at the meeting of the San Francisco Surgical Society:

November Meeting – Controversial Markets: from Kidneys to Marijuana, by Professor Alvin Roth, 2012 Nobel Laureate in Economics.
November 13 @ 6:30 pm - 9:30 pm PST
Family Club
545 Powell Street
San Francisco, CA 94108

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Economics and Computation: EC'20 call for papers

Mike Ostrovsky writes:

The Twenty-First ACM Conference on Economics and Computation (EC'20) will be held on July 13-17, 2020 in Budapest, Hungary. The main conference will take place on July 14-16, 2020 with tutorials on Monday, July 13 and workshops on Friday, July 17. The conference is co-located with the Sixth World Congress of the Game Theory Society.

We solicit paper submissions for presentation in the technical program. The deadline for submissions is February 12, 2020 at 3pm EST.  

Note that EC’20 is continuing and expanding the forward-to-journal option that was piloted by EC’19; new partner journals include Artificial Intelligence, Marketing Science, Naval Research Logistics, RAND Journal of Economics, and the Review of Economic Studies. In addition, the new feature-at-INFORMS option allows authors to have their accepted EC submissions automatically considered for presentation at the INFORMS Annual Meeting.

For more details, please refer to the full call for papers and the list of program committee members

We hope to see you in Budapest!

Best regards,
Michael Ostrovsky and Ariel Procaccia
EC'20 Program Chairs

Monday, November 11, 2019

Debate on kidney exchange in Germany

On Friday in Berlin I found myself in a debate with the chairman of the Research Committee of the Bundestag, the German Parliament, about legalizing kidney exchange in Germany. I proposed that a minimal amendment of the law, which now only allows close relatives to donate, would be to also allow them to be the intended donors of their close relatives in kidney exchange.  However it doesn't seem as if this is going to happen anytime soon (it looks like only the Free Democratic Party in inclined to support it...)

The medical newspaper ärztezeitung has the story
Lebendspende breiter aufstellen
Beim Thema Organspende rücken die Lebendspenden zunehmend in den Fokus. Ein Nobelpreisträger befeuert die aufkommende Debatte.
[Widen living donation
With regard to organ donation, living donations are increasingly coming into focus. A Nobel Prize winner fuels the emerging debate.]

"Nobel laureate Professor Alvin Roth submitted on Friday morning a proposal on how the living donation of kidneys in Germany could be broadened. Instead of considering only first and second degree relatives, spouses, registered partners and close friends as potential donors in the transplantation law, the pair organ exchange of living donors should also be possible, he said at the Nobel Prize Dialogue of the Leopoldina in Berlin. The aim of this model is to increase the chances of being able to mediate compatible organs to dialysis-dependent patients.

"The chairman of the Research Committee of the Bundestag, Ernst Dieter Rossmann (SPD) advised in his reply to not overburden the population in Germany. First, the contradiction solution must be introduced and its effect on the donor numbers to be waited, he warned.

"At the end of October, the Greens warned against commercialization and organ trade if the so-called cross-donation was introduced. At the FDP, the considerations have fallen on fertile ground."

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Rank order voting in NY (and in xkcd)

Vox has the story:
New York City adopts ranked-choice voting, a major milestone for the reform
The biggest city in the US is joining a voting reform movement.

"New York City has become the latest — and most populous — city to adopt ranked-choice voting, a major milestone for voting reform efforts.
Voters in the city overwhelmingly approved Ballot Question 1 on Tuesday, enabling voters to begin using ranked-choice voting in local primary and special elections beginning in 2021.
New York City joins 20 other cities around the country, as well as multiple states, that have already started using this method in various elections. Maine, notably, implemented ranked-choice voting for the first time in a federal election in 2018.
Ranked-choice voting works much like its name suggests. Instead of picking just one candidate on the ballot, voters rank their top five in order of preference.
Once those votes are cast, they are counted in the following way, Lee Drutman explains:
Ranked-choice voting lets voters mark their first-choice candidate first, their second-choice candidate second, their third-choice candidate third, and so on. Each voter has only one vote but can indicate their backup choices: If one candidate has an outright majority of first-place rankings, that candidate wins, just like a traditional election.
But if no candidate has a majority in the first round, the candidate in last place is eliminated. Voters who had ranked that candidate first have their votes transferred to the candidate they ranked second. This process continues until a single candidate gathers a majority."

xkcd has the cartoon:

Previous posts:

Monday, September 30, 2019

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Lifetime medical insurance for kidney donors?

Reason has the story:

New York Might Compensate You for Your Kidney
But it's just health insurance, not cash
LIZ WOLFE  11.6.2019

"On Friday, New York State Sen. James Skoufis (D–Woodbury), introduced a bill that would provide kidney donors with free health insurance for life. Skoufis' bill, S.B. 6827, would establish a kidney donor insurance fund from which the payouts would come. The new incentives would not apply retroactively to people who have already donated kidneys.
"In New York State, there are 8,006 individuals who are candidates for a kidney transplant as of October 2019, but in 2018 just 521 people in the state who chose to serve as live kidney donors," Skoufis notes in the bill's memo. "Clearly, additional incentives are required to encourage people to give the gift of life."

von Neumann award to Susan Athey

Susan Athey is the recipient of the 2019 John von Neumann Award.

"The John von Neumann Award, named after John von Neumann is given annually by the Rajk László College for Advanced Studies (BudapestHungary), to an outstanding scholar in the exact social sciences, whose works have had substantial influence over a long period of time on the studies and intellectual activity of the students of the college. The award was established in 1994 and is given annually. In 2013, separately from the annual prize, Kenneth J. Arrow was given the Honorary John von Neumann Award."

Friday, November 8, 2019

Nobel Prize Dialogue Berlin 2019 Towards Health: Equality, Responsibility and Research, Friday Nov. 8

I'll be speaking in Berlin again today:

Below is one announcement, with the agenda (and a list of speakers and panelists is here):
Equality, Responsibility and Research

10:00 A.M. – 12:30 P.M.
Opening Remarks
Jörg Hacker, Laura Sprechmann

What Does ‘Health’ Mean to You?
Peter Agre, Tolu Oni, Ursula Staudinger
Moderator: Adam Smith

Funding Research for a Healthier Future: How Should We Set Priorities?
Tomas Lindahl, Ernst Dieter Rossmann, Eleftheria Zeggini
Moderator: Juleen Zierath

Kidney Exchange
Alvin Roth

How Can We Increase Organ Donation and Transplantation?
Ernst Dieter Rossmann, Alvin Roth, Christiane Woopen
Moderator: Adam Smith

Musical Intermezzo: Berliner Cellharmoniker
How Climate Change Is Affecting Our Health
Kristie Ebi

What Can We Do About the Health Risks of Climate Change?
Kristie Ebi, Sabine Gabrysch, Sylvia Hartmann
Moderator: Gustav Källstrand

Health Inequalities Throughout The Life Course
Michael Marmot

How Can We Reduce Health Inequalities?
Nicola Bedlington, Kathryn Dewey, Michael Marmot
Moderator: Peter Tinnemann

LUNCH BREAK 12:30 P.M. – 1:45 P.M.
The Microbiome: a New Dimension in Health
Suzanne Devkota
Moderator: Adam Smith

Behind the Scenes of the Nobel Prize
Gustav Källstrand und Juleen Zierath
Moderator: Katja Patzwaldt

Vaccine Hesitancy
Michel Goldman, Tikki Pang, Harald zur Hausen
Moderator: Juleen Zierath

You are Entitled to Your Own Opinion, But Not to Your Own Facts
Tikki Pang

Health Challenges in Low- and Middle-Income Countries
Peter Agre, Tolu Oni, Tikki Pang
Moderator: Peter Tinnemann

Mental Health and Longer Lives: Positive Plasticity of Cognitive Aging
Ursula Staudinger

Mental Health, Cognition and Ageing
Edvard Moser, Ursula Staudinger
Moderator: Adam Smith

The Future of Drug Development and Precision Medicine
Nicola Bedlington, Michel Goldman, Tomas Lindahl, Eleftheria Zeggini
Moderator: Adam Smith

COFFEE BREAK 3:15 P.M. – 3:45 P.M.
ATRIUM 3:45 P.M. – 4:45 P.M.
The Role of Diet
Suzanne Devkota, Kathryn Dewey, Harald zur Hausen
Moderator: Juleen Zierath

What Level of Healthcare Can Society Afford?
Michel Goldman, Heyo Kroemer, Alvin Roth, Christiane Woopen
Moderator: Peter Tinnemann

Who Is Responsible For Our Health?
Nicola Bedlington, Kristie Ebi, Heyo Kroemer, Michael Marmot, Edvard Moser, Tikki Pang
Moderator: Adam Smith

Closing Remarks
Laura Sprechmann

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Controversial markets, at Humboldt University

This evening I'll be speaking at Humboldt University:

BSE Lecture on "Controversial markets" by Nobel Laureate Alvin E. Roth

Wann: 07.11.2019 von 14:30 bis 15:45 

Wo: Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Dorotheenstraße 24, 10117 Berlin, Fritz-Reuter-Saal, 3rd floor

Abstract:Markets need social support to work well. So do bans on markets, since without sufficient social support, bans can be ineffective and can sometimes lead to active black markets.  I’ll describe some examples of how these tensions have played out differently in different places, for example,  for markets for surrogacy, prostitution, and drugs. A particular example will be the almost (but not quite) universal ban on monetary markets for kidneys, and how this has influenced the treatment of kidney disease and the organization of kidney transplantation around the world, including the development of kidney exchange, which is growing worldwide, but is effectively banned in Germany by current German transplant law.

"If you want to attend the lecture, please register by giving the subject "Registration BSE Lecture Alvin Roth" as well as your name and your institution via email to veranstaltungen@hu-berlin.de.

"After the lecture, at 16:00, up to 25 students (Master's and PhD) as well as Postdocs will have the opportunity to attend a round-table discussion with Alvin Roth in which he will address your questions. This round-table discussion will be held at room 2070a at HU's main building (Unter den Linden 6, 10117 Berlin)."

Tonight I'll also speak at an event organized by the Einstein Institute, concerning how changes in the current German transplant law could make kidney exchange practical in Germany.

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

MIT celebrates Nikhil Agarwal

Optimizing kidney donation and other markets without money
MIT economist Nikhil Agarwal analyzes the efficiency of markets that match suppliers and consumers but don’t use prices.

“In economics,” Agarwal says, “we often [assume] there’s the demand, the supply, the price, and the market clears, somehow. It just happens.” And yet, he says, “That’s not how a lot of markets work. There are all these different important markets where we do not allow prices.”

Scholars in the field of “market design,” therefore, closely examine these nonfinancial markets, observing how their rules and procedures affect outcomes. Agarwal calls himself a specialist in “resource allocation systems that do not use prices.” These include kidney donations: The law forbids selling vital organs. Many education systems and entry-level labor markets, for example, also fit into this category. "

I've followed Nikhil's work for a long time--here are some other posts that mention his work.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Unraveling and (lack of) self confidence by Dargnies, Hakimov and Kübler

Online, in Management Science, a behavioral look at unraveling via early exploding offers:

Self-Confidence and Unraveling in Matching Markets
Marie-Pierre Dargnies , Rustamdjan Hakimov, Dorothea Kübler
Published Online:22 Oct 2019https://doi.org/10.1287/mnsc.2018.3201

We document experimentally how biased self-assessments affect the outcome of labor markets. In the experiments, we exogenously manipulate the self-confidence of participants in the role of workers regarding their relative performance by employing hard and easy real-effort tasks. Participants in the role of firms can make offers before information about the workers’ performance has been revealed. Such early offers by firms are more often accepted by workers when the real-effort task is hard than when it is easy. We show that the treatment effect works through a shift in beliefs; that is, under-confident agents are more likely to accept early offers than overconfident agents. The experiment identifies a behavioral determinant of unraveling, namely biased self-assessments. The treatment with the hard task entails more unraveling and thereby leads to lower efficiency and less stability, and it shifts payoffs from high- to low-quality firms.

Monday, November 4, 2019

Kidney donation in Israel

In Israel, as in the U.S., a lot of living kidney donations to strangers come from people associated with faith based organizations.  Tablet Magazine has the story:

Kidney donations are on the rise among Orthodox Israelis
By Sara Toth Stub October 28, 2019

"Koplovich is among the growing number of religiously observant Israelis who are volunteering to donate kidneys to people they have never met, ultimately doubling the number of kidney transplants taking place in the country each year. Officials credit the increase in living donors to improved surgical techniques, increased social welfare benefits, and the work of a nonprofit organization called Matnat Chaim, which raises awareness about and facilitates live kidney donations, especially among Orthodox Israelis.
"Rabbinic authorities, whose often stringent definitions of brain death have led to Israel’s relatively low rate of organ transplants from deceased people, are now actively encouraging live donations of kidneys, the most in-demand organ, especially as the danger to the donor has been reduced, according to recent research by Koslowsky, and nephrologists Walter Wasser and Geoffrey Boner, published in the journal BMC Nephrology.
"Two Jewish organizations in the United States, Kidney Mitzvah and Renewal, also raise awareness about and facilitate live kidney donation/
"All kidney donations and transplant pairings made through Matnat Chaim are overseen by the government-appointed National Committee for Kidney Donations, which also makes sure there is no commercial component involved.

"But donors coming through Matnat Chaim can choose the characteristics of their recipient, and most Jewish donors choose to donate to a fellow Jew. Although bioethicists are generally divided over directing organs to certain types of people, Israeli health officials allow the practice, saying that it has helped increase the overall number of kidneys available.
"While Miran Epstein, a medical ethicist at Queen Mary University of London, acknowledges that every donated kidney ultimately helps everyone waiting for a kidney, he said an organization that allows donors to stipulate certain characteristics of potential recipients—including religious affiliation—in effect practices conditional organ donation, which Israel and many other countries don’t allow. When accepting matches made through Matnat Chaim, the government-run transplant system is undermining its own ethics guidelines and public trust, he said: “The ethnic-religious condition is effectively concealed behind the fiction of directed donation. There is no doubt that Matnat Chaim has shortened the waiting list, but the question is, at what price?”

"Meanwhile, Ashkenazi said that the country’s kidney exchange program—where relatives and friends of those in need of a kidney, but who don’t match, donate to a stranger, whose family or friends in turn donate to their relative—often brings together Jewish and Arab donors and recipients."

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Egon Balas, 1922-2019

I only now learned that Egon Balas passed away in March, at the age of 96.  
I last saw him in 2017, full of energy at an IFORS conference in Quebec City. We became friends in Pittsburgh, where he was the leader of the OR community at CMU.
He came to operations research in the second half of his life, after an incredibly dramatic first half.  Here's a link to his CMU obituary:

"His early life included two imprisonments—one for joining the communist party to oppose the Nazis during World War II and the second by the communist party after the war in a Stalinist purge. He later became one of the world’s foremost experts in mathematical optimization after joining Carnegie Mellon in 1967."

Here's the WSJ obituary:

And here's the obit from the Pittsburgh Post Gazette:

Saturday, November 2, 2019

Video Interview: Peter Singer on Global Kidney Exchange

Peter Singer discusses Global Kidney Exchange, and his recent article in the Lancet, in this interview on the Practical Ethics blog at Oxford.

Video Interview: Peter Singer on The Global Kidney Exchange Programme
Published November 1, 2019 | By Katrien Devolder

"In this interview with Katrien Devolder, Peter Singer defends the Global Kidney Exchange (GKE) programme, which matches donor–recipient pairs across high-income, medium-income, and low-income countries. The GKE has been accused of being a form of organ trafficking, exploiting the poor, and involving coercion and commodification of donors. Peter Singer refutes these claims, and argues that the GKE promotes global justice and reduces the potential for people in need of kidneys in low-income and medium-income countries to be exploited."


Earlier post and link to the Lancet article:

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Global Kidney Exchange in the Lancet, by Minerva, Savulescu and Singer

And you can find all my posts on global kidney exchange here.

Friday, November 1, 2019

No more foie gras in New York City

The NY Times has the story:

Foie Gras, Served in 1,000 Restaurants in New York City, Is Banned
Animal cruelty concerns led the City Council to approve the ban, which takes effect in 2022. One chef’s reaction: “What’s next? No more veal?”

"The New York City Council overwhelmingly passed legislation on Wednesday that will ban the sale of foie gras in the city, one of the country’s largest markets, beginning in 2022.

New York City will join California in prohibiting the sale of foie gras, the fattened liver of a duck or goose, over animal cruelty concerns."
Previous posts on foie gras here.

HT: Alex Chan

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Global Kidney Exchange in the Lancet, by Minerva, Savulescu and Singer

Here's a clear-eyed account of Global Kidney Exchange, from three moral philosophers, forthcoming in The Lancet. You can read the whole thing at the link:

The ethics of the Global Kidney Exchange programme
Francesca Minerva, Julian Savulescu, Peter Singer
The Lancet (online first, Published:October 29, 2019 DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(19)32474-2 )

Summary: The Global Kidney Exchange (GKE) programme seeks to facilitate kidney transplants by matching donor–recipient pairs across high-income, medium-income, and low-income countries. The GKE programme pays the medical expenses of people in medium-income and low-income countries, thus enabling them to receive a kidney transplantation they otherwise could not afford. In doing so, the programme increases the global donor pool, and so benefits people in high-income countries by improving their chances of finding a donor match. Nevertheless, the GKE has been accused of being a form of organ trafficking, exploiting the poor, and involving coercion and commodification of donors. We refute these claims, arguing that the GKE promotes global justice and reduces the potential for people in need of kidneys in low-income and medium-income countries to be exploited. Misguided objections should not be allowed to prevent the GKE from realising its potential to reduce suffering and save the lives of rich and poor patients alike.

The article is very clearly written, it is well worth reading the whole thing.

In a related announcement at the University of Melbourne, Professor Singer and his colleagues have a summary (with pictures):

The Global Kidney Exchange, which aims to expand the kidney donor pool, has been criticised as ‘organ trafficking’, but the counter argument is that it will save the lives of rich and poor patients alike

By Professor Julian Savulescu and Professor Peter Singer, University of Melbourne, and Dr Francesca Minerva, University of Ghent

"Our paper, published in the medical journal The Lancet, provides an ethical defence of the program.

"GKE has been compared to organ selling, a practice considered immoral by many and illegal in most places. However, as nobody gets paid for giving up their kidney through the GKE programme, this comparison does not hold true"

Update: and here is the published version
VOLUME 394, ISSUE 10210, P1775-1778, NOVEMBER 09, 2019

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

NCAA takes steps to allow college athletes to be compensated

Here's the NY Times:

N.C.A.A. Considers Loosening Rules for Athletes Seeking Outside Deals
The governing body for college sports appeared to soften its long-held stance that athletes should not profit from their fame. But it gave no details and said any rule changes required much more discussion.

"ATLANTA — The N.C.A.A. Board of Governors, under increasing pressure from legislatures around the country, voted Tuesday to pave the way for college athletes to profit off their fame, but the decision came with an elephant-size caveat: Any policy changes must maintain clear distinctions between amateur athletes and professional ones.

The vote was a surprising turn by the N.C.A.A., which for years has resisted calls for athletes to be compensated for the use of their names, images and likenesses. The board was responding to a report from a committee studying the issue and was expected to do little more than give the committee extra time to do its work.

The N.C.A.A. president, Mark Emmert, acknowledged that the passage of a bill in California that would permit sponsorships, the emergence of more than a dozen others like it nationwide and calls for change from prominent athletes like LeBron James had nudged his organization into action."

See previous post:

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Interviews in the Medical Physics residency match (too many, and what to do about it..)

Medical physics has a residency match, and like other residency matches it is suffering from (apparently) too many interviews.

Here's a signed editorial in the Journal of Applied Clinical Medical Physics (one correlate of it being an editorial rather than a paper is this:
"Received: 4 September 2019 | Accepted: 5 September 2019")

Some considerations in optimizing the Medical Physics Match
by Richard V. Butler1, John H. Huston1, George Starkschall2
1Department of Economics, Trinity University, San Antonio, TX,
2Department of Radiation Physics, The University of Texas MDAnderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX

"In 2018, 79% of graduates of CAMPEP‐accredited graduate programs were accepted into residency programs.4 Consequently, to ensure a match, candidates interview at many programs. There is also a harmful feedback mechanism here. As applicants apply to more programs, the acceptance rate at each program declines. Consequently, applicants may apply to even more programs to increase their perceived probability of acceptance into a program. This is costly for the candidates in terms of travel expenses, and costly for the interviewing faculty in terms of time away from research, clinic, and teaching.
"Because the problem of optimal applications is an economics problem, there has been a search for solutions and a developing literature on the subject. Balter et al.5 show that limiting the number of applications candidates can submit is superior to limiting the number of applications a program can evaluate. Entering an application limit into the Gale/Shapley algorithm that underlies the matching process, the authors conclude that "the optimal limit in the number of applications balances the tradeoff between being unmatched and gaining a better match in the aggregate, and the benefit can be considerable if the graduates'preferences over the positions are not very correlated.
"Another approach to a solution is "signaling." A program would be permitted to notify a small number (somewhere between three and five) of applicants prior to interviews that it is seriously interested in them. This gives the applicant useful information about his/her chances at that particular program and so makes the benefit function a bit less fuzzy. Because the problem in medical physics seems to be more at the interview stage than the initial application stage, some form of signaling by institutions offering residencies might help reduce uncertainty so that at least some applicants could focus on the places where they have good chance and pass on visits to some of their more marginal options."

Here are earlier posts on the medical physics residency match.

Monday, October 28, 2019

Organ and tissue procurement: back and forth between LA Times and OneLegacy

Even in the era of social media, it remains difficult to conduct an argument with someone who buys ink by the truckload.

The LA Times ran a series of stories on tissue procurement:
Full Coverage: The Times’ investigation into how companies that harvest body parts upend death investigations

This was followed by a press release from OneLegacy, the big S. California organ procurement organization (OPO), disputing a number of points and objecting to the overall tone of the articles:
Inaccurate and Sensationalized Los Angeles Times Article Likely to Cause Unnecessary Deaths and Suffering
"—A highly-inaccurate and tragically sensationalized article in a recent edition of the Los Angeles Times is likely to lead to deaths and suffering while causing severe damage to the donation and transplantation community."

and this in turn was followed by a rejoinder in the LA Times:
OneLegacy issued a statement on an L.A. Times investigation; The Times responds
"“The Times stands firmly behind these important stories, which were the product of months of meticulous reporting and careful editing,” said Scott Kraft, managing editor of The Times."

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Ed Green, 1948-2019

Ran Shorrer at Penn State passes on the news that his colleague Ed Green died Saturday morning after a long fight with cancer. Ed and I were colleagues at the University of Pittsburgh in the late 1980s.  He was a scholar's scholar and a gentle man.

Perhaps his most famous paper is Green and Porter (1984), which outlined how cartels could effectively coordinate on high prices even when they could only imperfectly monitor one another, by engaging in price wars when defection was suspected:


Noncooperative Collusion under Imperfect Price Information

Edward J. Green, Robert H. Porter
Recent work in game theory has shown that, in principle, it may be possible for firms in an industry to form a self-policing cartel to maximize their joint profits. This paper examines the nature of cartel self-enforcement in the presence of demand uncertainty. A model of a noncooperatively supported cartel is presented, and the aspects of industry structure which would make such a cartel viable are discussed.

Ed also has a series of papers with his wife, Ruilin Zhou.

Update: here's an obituary.
Obituary of Edward James Green, 71

Interview with Péter Biró on kidney exchange and related matters

The interview touches on Peter's history, and on developments in kidney exchange.

Az algoritmus, ami életeket ment - interjú Biró Péterrel
[Google Translate: The algorithm that saved lives - interview with Péter Biró ]

Google translate gives a pretty readable version...

" Unfortunately, Hungarian colleagues are very busy with their basic tasks, so despite their good intentions, they can devote little resources and attention to creating a Hungarian kidney exchange program. Since 2016, there has been a so-called COST Action program in Europe, which promotes European networking on kidney exchange. I recently visited an economist in Padua on this topic and went to a leading nephrology surgeon there. We talked about how the Italian system could be improved and agreed to test the practicalities of this with the Padua data. By the way, this center carries out most of the living donor kidney transplants in Italy."

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Auction results: Nobel medals of John Nash and Reinhard Selten

The auction is over, and (unlike in some previous auctions) all of the items sold.  The highest profile items, namely the Nobel medals and diplomas, went for $735,000 (Nash) and 225,000 (Selten). 
LOT 58

Price Realized: USD 27,500
You did not place a bid on this lot
Nash's first great contributio
LOT 59

Price Realized: USD 25,000
You did not place a bid on this lot
Nash's doctoral thesis
LOT 60

Price Realized: USD 137,500
You did not place a bid on this lot
For his brilliant insight into
LOT 61

Price Realized: USD 735,000
You did not place a bid on this lot
For refining Nash's work
LOT 62

Price Realized: USD 225,000
You did not place a bid on this lot

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Saturday, October 19, 2019