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A propos the Economics Prize

Stefan Engevall, Department of Science and Technology, has applied Nobel Prize winner Lloyd Shapley’s theories in his transport research. Was it a good choice of prize winner?

Stefan Engevall, porträtt

“Of course I think it’s great that the prize once again brings the spotlight onto game theory research. Since the nineties several of the Economics prizes have dealt with just that. 1994, 2005 and 2007 and now once more,” he says.

Engevall himself, in his research on transport planning, based his work on cooperative game theory, which is what brought Lloyd Shapley this year’s Nobel Prize in Economics, together with Alvin Roth.

When the winners were announced on Monday he was able to look up at the bookshelf in his office at the Department of Science and Technology on Campus Norrköping and know that it contains what are now highly sought after titles.

“Including one that Roth wrote about Shapley and which is impossible to get hold of now,” he says, sounding pleased.

This year’s Nobel Prize for Economics deals with allocation in different types of cooperation, how best to match different participants. And game theory will become even more important if the world is to succeed with cooperation around sustainability,” Engevall says.

“If we take the theories up a level, we see that they will play an extremely important role in the future. Especially regarding questions of sustainability and the environment, we have to achieve forms of cooperation where the partners involved perceive dividing up costs or sacrifices as fair.

On a more down to earth level Shapley’s theories, the “Shapley value” and cooperative game theory are extremely useful. In transport planning, for example.

Engevall’s doctoral thesis looks at how the costs of petrol transport can be divided up fairly from the petrol stations’ perspective.

“I based this on the theories that Shapley developed back in 1953.”

“Nowadays his theories are well-established concepts; the Shapley value is a clear reference that everyone understands - but as researchers, we like to have a slightly bigger challenge. We are trying to find alternative methods and develop our own calculations. It’s more fun when it’s difficult,” Engevall says.

And with that he reveals that together with a research colleague he decided just last week to give up on Shapley in an article they are currently working on.

“But with this year’s Nobel Prize we had better have another think...”

Gunilla Pravitz 2012-10-17

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Last updated: 2017-02-13