Alvin E. Roth

Nobel Laureate in Economics 2012
Professor of Economics, Stanford University
Author of Who Gets What – and Why

Creating new markets that benefit all parties.

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Alvin Roth is a world-renowned expert on market design and game theory. He is a rarity among economists — his mission throughout his career has been to apply economic theory to real-world, real-life problems. He has been wildly successful, pioneering new ways to use game theory to redesign previously ineffective, complex markets.

Dr. Roth was honored by the Nobel Committee for his work in stable allocations and the practice of market design. His breakthrough work involves creating better “matching” markets — where people or organisations come together in a marketplace to select one or another. Common examples are the college admissions process, job searches, or dating websites.

Matching markets where participants must rank their preferences often end in disappointment or mismatches. But Dr. Roth has succeeded in designing fair and equitable systems where preferences are honoured more frequently and participants are placed in one of the programs of their choice — with outcomes that result in stable match ups.

Some of his notable achievements include:

  • Reworking the National Resident Matching Program through which 25,000 medical school graduates apply to the hospital residency programs of their choice throughout the country.

  • Designing the high school preference program in New York that matches as many as 90,000 students to hundreds of high schools each year.

  • Designing matching programs for Boston’s primary school choice system, as well as for other large cities with significant student populations.

  • Founder and designer of the New England Program for Kidney Exchange, which allows incompatible patient-donor pairs to swap for compatible kidneys. The program has resulted in 2,000 patients receiving kidneys who might otherwise never have located a compatible donor.

Dr. Roth is a compelling speaker for any industry providing audiences with new and compelling insights into the hidden behaviors of their own marketplaces.

Who Gets What – and Why: The New Economics of Matchmaking and Market Design, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015

“In this fascinating, often surprising book, Alvin Roth guides us through the jungle of modern life, pointing to the many markets that are hidden in plain view all around us. He teaches us how markets work — and fail — and how we can build better ones.”
— Dan Ariely, author of Predictably Irrational and The Honest Truth about Dishonesty

The Handbook of Market Design, Oxford University Press, 2013. Editor with Nir Vulkan and Zvika Neeman.

Handbook of Experimental Economics, Princeton University Press, 1995. Editor with J.H. Kagel

Handbook of Experimental Economics, Vol. 2, Princeton University Press, forthcoming. Editor with J.H. Kagel


  • Craig and Susan McCaw Professor of Economics, Stanford University
  • George Gund Professor of Economics, Emeritus, Harvard University
  • Senior Fellow, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research
  • Research Associate, National Bureau of Economic research
  • MS, Ph.D, Operations Research, Stanford University
  • BS, Columbia University


  • Fellow, American Academy of Arts and Sciences
  • Member, National Academy of Sciences
  • Fellow American Association of the Advancement of Science
  • Fellow, Econometric Society


Who Gets What — and Why

The New Economics of Matchmaking and Market Design

Alvin E. Roth

A Nobel laureate reveals the often surprising rules that govern a vast array of activities — both mundane and life-changing — in which money may play little or no role.

If you’ve ever sought a job or hired someone, applied to college or guided your child into a good kindergarten, asked someone out on a date or been asked out, you’ve participated in a kind of market. Most of the study of economics deals with commodity markets, where the price of a good connects sellers and buyers. But what about other kinds of “goods,” like a spot in the Yale freshman class or a position at Google? This is the territory of matching markets, where “sellers” and “buyers” must choose each other, and price isn’t the only factor determining who gets what.

Alvin E. Roth is one of the world’s leading experts on matching markets. He has even designed several of them, including the exchange that places medical students in residencies and the system that increases the number of kidney transplants by better matching donors to patients. In Who Gets What — And Why, Roth reveals the matching markets hidden around us and shows how to recognize a good match and make smarter, more confident decisions.

Eamon Dolan/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (June 2, 2015)


The refugee crisis — match us if you canFinancial Times

The Handbook of Market Design

Alvin E. Roth,Nir Vulkan and Zvika Neeman

Alvin E. Roth

Economists often look at markets as given, and try to make predictions about who will do what and what will happen in these markets Market design, by contrast, does not take markets as given; instead, it combines insights from economic and game theory together with common sense and lessons learned from empirical work and experimental analysis to aid in the design and implementation of actual markets In recent years the field has grown dramatically, partially because of the successful wave of spectrum auctions in the US and in Europe, which have been designed by a number of prominent economists, and partially because of the increase use of the Internet as the platform over which markets are designed and run There is now a large number of applications and a growing theoretical literature.

The Handbook of Market Design brings together the latest research from leading experts to provide a comprehensive description of applied market design over the last two decades In particular, it surveys matching markets: environments where there is a need to match large two-sided populations to one another, such as medical residents and hospitals, law clerks and judges, or patients and kidney donors It also examines a number of applications related to electronic markets, e-commerce, and the effect of the Internet on competition between exchanges.

Oxford University Press; 1 edition (October 22, 2013)

The Handbook of Experimental Economics

Alvin E. Roth and John H. Kagel

This book, which comprises eight chapters, presents a comprehensive critical survey of the results and methods of laboratory experiments in economics. The first chapter provides an introduction to experimental economics as a whole, with the remaining chapters providing surveys by leading practitioners in areas of economics that have seen a concentration of experiments: public goods, coordination problems, bargaining, industrial organization, asset markets, auctions, and individual decision making.

The work aims both to help specialists set an agenda for future research and to provide nonspecialists with a critical review of work completed to date. Its focus is on elucidating the role of experimental studies as a progressive research tool so that wherever possible, emphasis is on series of experiments that build on one another. The contributors to the volume — Colin Camerer, Charles A. Holt, John H. Kagel, John O. Ledyard, Jack Ochs, Alvin E. Roth, and Shyam Sunder — adopt a particular methodological point of view: the way to learn how to design and conduct experiments is to consider how good experiments grow organically out of the issues and hypotheses they are designed to investigate.

Princeton University Press; Reprint edition (November 17, 1997)

Two-Sided Matching

A Study in Game-Theoretic Modeling and Analysis (Econometric Society Monographs)

Alvin E. Roth and Marilda A. Oliveira Sotomayor

Two-sided matching provides a model of search processes such as those between firms and workers in labor markets or between buyers and sellers in auctions. This book gives a comprehensive account of recent results concerning the game-theoretic analysis of two-sided matching. The focus of the book is on the stability of outcomes, on the incentives that different rules of organization give to agents, and on the constraints that these incentives impose on the ways such markets can be organized. The results for this wide range of related models and matching situations help clarify which conclusions depend on particular modeling assumptions and market conditions, and which are robust over a wide range of conditions.

Cambridge University Press; Reprint edition (June 26, 1992)