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“Golden Goose” Award

September 19, 2014

On September 18, economists Preston McAfee, Paul Milgrom and Robert Wilson received the Golden Goose Award in a ceremony at the Library of Congress in Washington, DC. The award is given annually to federally funded researchers whose “seemingly obscure studies have led to major breakthroughs and resulted in significant societal impact.” A video describing the trio’s work, along with that of the biologists and the physicist who were similarly honored, can be viewed on Vimeo or below.

Quoting the Golden Goose website:

Congressman Jim Cooper (D-TN) originally conceived of the Golden Goose award as a means of educating Members of Congress and the general public about the value of federal funding of basic scientific research. The name of the award is a play on the “Golden Fleece” awards issued between 1975 and 1988 by Senator William Proxmire (D-WI), which targeted specific federally funded research grants as examples of government waste. The name also alludes to the fable of the goose that laid the golden eggs. Researchers who have used federal funding to make their research breakthroughs constitute the “goose,” and the innovations stemming from their work are the “golden eggs.”

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.