Yash Kanoria wins SIGecom Test of Time Award
Kanoria and coauthors honored for their paper narrowing the gap between theoretical understanding and practical experience in matching markets.
The paper, coauthored by Itai Ashlagi, professor of management science and engineering at Stanford University, and Jacob Leshno, assistant professor at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, explained an apparent gap between theoretical understanding and practical experience with matching markets. Matching markets are markets in which mutual preference — not just supply and demand — drives transactions. Examples are college admissions, dating markets, and labor markets.
The paper sheds light on why matching markets are likely to have a nearly unique equilibrium outcome. Previous theoretical studies had only been able to show near uniqueness of the matching equilibrium under restrictive assumptions on market structure, and found that there is, in fact, a large and diverse set of equilibria in a matching market with random agent preferences and an equal number of men and women. In contrast, most real-world matching markets exhibit a nearly unique stable matching. This gap between theory and practice had long been a source of consternation in the economics field.
It was a pretty big surprise to have been lurking within a theory that had been around for 20-plus years and was deeply entrenched among market designers.
In their paper, Kanoria and his colleagues analyzed large random matching markets with unequal numbers of men and women seeking a partner. They found that being on the short side of the market confers a large advantage; each agent on the short side of the market matches with one of their top choices, and each agent on the long side is either unmatched or does almost no better than being matched with a random partner. In particular, the equilibrium is approximately unique.
With their finding that even the slightest imbalance in random matching markets greatly benefits the short side, Kanoria and his coauthors prodded a broader reconsideration of how market properties determine equilibrium.
“It was a pretty big surprise to have been lurking within a theory that had been around for 20-plus years and was deeply entrenched among market designers,” Kanoria said. “The paper has contributed to and encouraged a larger effort by the field to bring theory and our practical experience and data-driven understanding of matching markets closer together.”
The SIGecom Test of Time Award “recognizes the author or authors of an influential paper or series of papers published between 10 and 25 years ago that has significantly impacted research or applications exemplifying the interplay of economics and computation.” Kanoria and his coauthors shared the award this year with Nicole Immorlica and Mohammad Mahdian.
Winning the award was an honor for Kanoria. “It was completely unexpected,” he said. “I knew I would cherish this, because this kind of thing might happen at best two or three times in a typical academic career.”
SIGecom — the Special Interest Group on Economics and Computation — is part of the Association for Computing Machinery, the world’s largest computing society. SIGecom’s mission is to encourage research and applications at the interface between computer science and economics, using economic ideas and computational reasoning to understand and improve social and economic interactions.
A decade of influence
Kanoria received a bachelor of technology in electrical engineering at the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay in India and a PhD in electrical engineering at Stanford University, where his research was motivated by marketplaces, and social networks.
He was a Schramm postdoctoral fellow at Microsoft Research New England in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where he connected with Ashlagi and Leshno to write the award-winning paper.
Since writing the paper in 2013, Kanoria has taught in the Decision, Risk, and Operations Division in the Graduate School of Business at Columbia University. His research centers on the design and optimization of marketplaces, including matching markets and online platforms.
Kanoria’s related interest in dynamic resource allocation led him to join the Amazon Visiting Academics program in Supply Chain Optimization Technologies (SCOT).
“I’m enjoying my work at Amazon,” Kanoria said. “It has both broadened my horizons, and enabled me to engage with real-world problems and make an impact.”