Monday, October 15, 2012
The Stable Marriage Problem
Today, Alvin Roth and Lloyd Shapely were awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics. Shapely, a professor emeritus at UCLA, is known for developing "matching methods." Roth has used Shapely's methods to match medical residents to hospitals and organ donors to recipients.
But I was really interested in Shapely's work in solving the "stable marriage problem." According to a piece in The Washington Post, Shapely, along with economist David Gale developed an algorithm in the 1960s (known as the Gale-Shapely Algorithm) that paired "a certain number of men and women..such that there is no partner with whom anyone would rather be than the one with whom they are paired."
The Post article explained that in the Gale-Shapley algorithm "there are a series of rounds in which both men and women rank potential mates, and matches are made until everyone finds a spouse and the system is stable," meaning that "both partners feel that they have gotten the most attractive possible match."
Research notes that the Gale-Shapely algorithm solves the stable marriage problem because people are coupled in a way that they would not feel the need to go outside their marriage "in search of something better." Basically neither spouse would see a benefit of straying outside the marriage because they believe they've gotten the best deal.
Wow. (It is important to note that according to the Post article no marriages were ever arranged through this Gale-Shapely algorithm.)
Do you think the Gale-Shapely Algorithm would work today? Why or Why not?
Well, first of all, their experiment is an ideal situation because it involves the same number of men and women. Today there are more women than men, so it's inevitable that someone will be left out.
But I ask, wouldn't you like a method that would ensure that you have the best possible match and there would never be a need for either spouse to look outside the marriage for "something better" ?
Do you think the divorce rate would decrease and there would be fewer affairs if this method was used to pair people up? Why or Why not?
Thoughts? Holla at me...