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You may have noticed that out in the real world, this isn’t exactly how dating or marriage works. Gale and Shapely weren’t really trying to crack the code on romance.For example, the model doesn’t take into account gay couples, bisexuality, or people who prefer to be single. What they were seeking was an approach to so-called matching markets — where there is supply and demand, but no money changes hands.
In the 1960s, researchers David Gale and Lloyd Shapley embarked upon research to take up an unlikely subject: matchmaking.
Funded in part by the Office of Naval Research, they were interested in the math behind pairing people up with partners who returned their affections.
Economics is often associated with the idea of money.
But the field extends beyond what can be (or should be) monetized.
Here’s an example inspired by Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice”: The goal is to find stable matches between two sets of people who have different preferences and opinions on who is their best match.
The central concept is that the matches should be stable: There should be no two people who prefer each other to the partners they actually got.
Their research may have seemed obscure or even pointless, but the insights they gleaned built the foundation for breakthroughs that have improved countless people’s lives.
The Economist Group is the leading source of analysis on international business and world affairs.
The Gale-Shapley algorithm also proved useful in helping large urban school districts assign students to schools.
New York, like many cities, enables students to select a high school by ranking their preferred choices from among all its schools.