Updated, 3:37 p.m.
Alvin Roth, SEAS ’71, was named a Nobel Laureate in economics on Monday, snagging Columbia its second Nobel Prize of 2012.
Roth, a professor at Stanford and Harvard, earned a bachelor’s degree in operations research at the School of Engineering and Applied Science. He shared the award from the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences with University of California, Los Angeles economics professor Lloyd Shapley, although the two researchers work independently of one another.
Roth is the second engineering graduate to have won the Nobel Prize in economics, according to SEAS Interim Dean Donald Goldfarb, the other being Robert Merton, SEAS ’66, who also studied in a program that is now housed in the department of industrial engineering and operations research.
“This is another highly visible confirmation of the great strengths at our school—superb students and professors,” Goldfarb said in a statement to Spectator.
The academy has recognized Roth and Shapley for their work investigating “how to match different agents as well as possible,” it said in a statement.
In the 1950s and ’60s, Shapley devised the Gale-Shapley algorithm, and in the 1980s, Roth applied it to existing institutions—including hospitals and universities—to help create better matches between new doctors and hospitals. The National Resident Matching Program, which was established in the 1950s, had used an algorithm to match newly trained physicians with hospitals, and Roth noticed that the algorithm it used closely resembled the Gale-Shapley algorithm.
In 2003, Roth used the Gale-Shapley algorithm to reform the matching process that New York City public high schools use, allowing for a 90 percent reduction in the number of students being matched to schools in which they had no interest.
Last week, two-time Columbia graduate Robert Lefkowitz, CC ’62 and P&S ’66, won a Nobel Prize in chemistry.