May 1, 2009

Myerson, Nobel winner, elected to National Academy of Sciences

Economics professor and 2007 Nobel Prize winner Roger Myerson was elected to the National Academy of Sciences Tuesday as one of 72 new members and 18 foreign associates from 15 countries.Myerson joined the U of C faculty in 2001 after a 25-year tenure at Northwestern University. Myerson won a Nobel Prize for his research in mechanism design theory, which distinguishes between when markets work effectively and when they do not. Myerson, a game theorist, developed "proper equilibrium," a refinement of John Nash's equilibrium concept.His research has had wide implications for both economics and political science. Myerson applied game theory to investigations of electoral systems, and his most recent research has included looking into how best to design Iraq's constitution.“His work is very basic, it’s very deep, it’s widely used,” said economics professor James Heckman. “It contributes to the edifice of knowledge in economics so it really does substantially improve our understanding of how markets work.”Myerson has studied how to devise incentive schemes in an environment of imperfect competition, where not all players have all the same information. This, said Heckman, “explains features of markets that otherwise you couldn’t explain.”The National Academy of Sciences, which was founded by Abraham Lincoln in 1863 at the height of the Civil War, elects its members in recognition of their distinguished and continuing achievements in original research. The Academy’s role is to “investigate, examine, experiment, and report upon any subject of science or art” at the request of the government. Heckman said that Myerson’s research goes beyond specific, current issues. “This academy business is not given in particular recognition of an urgent need in a moment. It’s a recognition for a body of work,” he said.