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BBVA Foundations of Knowledge Award Ceremony

June 22, 2013

The BBVA Foundations of Knowledge Prizes were awarded on June 20, completing a two-day ceremony. The first day, June 19, was highlighted by a concert at Teatro Real honoring especially the modern music laureate, Pierre Boulez. The foundation awarded prizes in eight areas:

  • Basic Sciences (Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics)
  • Biomedicine
  • Ecology and Conservation Biology
  • Information and Communication Technologies
  • Economics, Finance and Management
  • Contemporary Music
  • Climate Change
  • Development Cooperation

The laureates’ short acceptance speeches are all posted on YouTube. Paul Milgrom’s speech is at this link, or can be watched below.

Nomura Lecture Focuses on US Spectrum Reallocation

June 6, 2013

Paul Milgrom today delivered the annual Nomura lecture at the Mathematics Institute at Oxford University in the UK. The annual lecture highlights applications of mathematics in a variety of different fields. This year’s lecture, entitled “Strategy-Proof Auctions for Complex Resource Allocations,” was delivered to a large audience of mathematicians and others in the Martin Wood theatre in Oxford.

In substance, the lecture described the special challenges facing US regulators in designing an auctions to buy back television broadcast licenses. The intention is to clear free the spectrum to be used for future wireless broadband networks. But this particular auction problem involves unprecedented challenges, because evaluating any given set of bids for broadcast stations to go off-air requires creating a plan to reorganizing the remaining on-air broadcasters, and that problem is computationally challenging even for the fastest modern computers. Building an auction in which different combinations of bids needs to be evaluated is even harder, since it requires evaluating many such plans. Milgrom described plans that his consulting team at Auctionomics have developed and recommended to regulators and also reported mathematical theorems that he and his Stanford colleague Ilya Segal developed to characterize the properties of the recommended auction.

The ability to handle complex constraints like these in an auction, which is a true market mechanism, is not only novel, but also has a wide range of potential applications. For example, auctions to add capacity to networks or to allocate limited airspace for satellite launches and air transportation are similarly complex and may be manageable by similar methods.

Stanford Conference Honors Paul Milgrom

April 18, 2013

A conference that Stanford has dubbed the “Milgromfest” was held on April 19-20, 2013 to honor Paul Milgrom’s 65th birthday. The conference featured sessions with economics research papers presented by Paul’s former students and collaborators in diverse areas. The conference program includes research studies on auctions, market design, organizations, complementarities, incentives, and game theory — all of which are topic areas to which Milgrom has contributed original research.

Those attending the Milgromfest come from Europe, Asia, Australia and Japan and include three Nobel laureates and two John Bates Clark medalists from the US and a member of the British Royal Academy.

Paul’s students presented him with the gift of a long (nearly 20 pages!), detailed Wikipedia entry to report his accomplishments.

Paul Milgrom wins BBVA Frontiers of Knowledge Award!

February 19, 2013

The BBVA Foundation announced in Madrid today that Paul Milgrom has won the 2012 Frontiers of Knowledge Award in the area of economics, finance and management. According to the prize jury, the prize was awarded “for his 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.” BBVA’s award announcement can be found on their website in Spanish or English and its interview with Paul is available online here.

The prize ceremony will take place on June 20, 2013, in Madrid, Spain.

The Frontiers of Knowledge and Culture Awards have been given since 2008. Each award comes with a €400,000 cash prize, a diploma and commemorative artwork. Past winners in this category of economics, finance and management include Jean Tirole, Andreu Mas-Colell, Hugo Sonnenschein, Lars Peter Hansen, and Angus Deaton.

The jury in this category was chaired by Kenneth J. Arrow, Nobel laureate in Economics and Professor of Economics and of Management Science and Engineering, Emeritus, at Stanford University (United States), with José Manuel González-Páramo, Visiting Professor at IESE Business School (Spain), acting as secretary. Remaining members were Andreu Mas-Colell, Professor of Economics at Pompeu Fabra University (Spain); Joel Mokyr, Robert H. Strotz Professor of Arts and Sciences and Professor of Economics at Northwestern University (United States); Albrecht Ritschl, Professor of Economic History at the London School of Economics (United Kingdom); and Jean Tirole, Chairman of the Board of the Fondation Jean-Jacques Laffont at Toulouse School of Economics (TSE)and Scientific Director of Toulouse University’s Institute for Industrial Economics (France).

The full jury citation reads as follows:

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.

His work on auction theory is probably his best-known. He has explored issues of design, bidding and outcomes for auctions with different rules. He designed auctions for multiple complementary items, with an eye towards practical applications such as frequency spectrum auctions. Professor Milgrom’s research in industrial organization includes influential studies on limit pricing, entry deterrence, predation, and advertising. In addition, Milgrom has added important novel insights to finance, particularly in connection to speculative trading and market micro-structure. The common theme of his works on auctions, industrial strategies, and financial markets is that economic actors infer from prices and other observables information about the fundamental market values.

He has also contributed to agency theory by describing conditions under which linear incentives are optimal, and by developing a tractable model of multitask agency relationships. His work on contract and organization theory has been very influential in management science. Finally, Professor Milgrom has contributed to mathematical economics and game theory, with studies on reputation and adaptive learning.

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