Microeconomics

Microeconomics

Opportunities

Overview

This group is composed of economists in Microsoft Research and the Office of the Chief Economist, who fill the roles of: full-time researchers, post-docs, visitors, interns, and research assistants. Full-time researchers work to advance the state of the art in the field of economics, as well as have impact within Microsoft. Post-docs join us from the best graduate programs and stay for 1 or 2 years after graduation before starting their careers as assistant professors. Visitors are professors who either spend a full semester sabbatical or visit weekly. Interns are graduate students who spend the summer working directly with a full-time researcher. Research assistants spend 2 years assisting full-time researchers before going to graduate school.

We explore the ways in which information technology is reshaping the nature of the global economy based on our unique access to the qualitative strategic and diverse quantitative data of the company leading this transformation. Our colleagues are diverse, including theoretical computer scientists, experts on machine learning, social media and computational social science, and we harness these unique interactions to bring unique perspectives to economic analysis. These resources have allowed us to publish our work in the best economics journals, as well as in top venues in other fields.

Researchers

Michael Schwarz (Corporate Vice President, Chief Economist) 1999 PhD, Stanford GSB. Formerly with Harvard University, Yahoo! Research, and Chief Economist for Cloud of Google.

Benjamin Edelman (Economist, Chief Economist Office): 2007 PhD in Economics, Harvard University. 2005 JD, Harvard Law School. His research interests include industrial organization, market design, competition, and policy.

Sonia Jaffe (Research Economist, Chief Economist Office) 2015 PhD in Economics, Harvard University. Her research interests include platform markets, matching markets, and health economics.

Jacob LaRiviere (Senior Researcher Economist, Chief Economist Office) 2010 PhD in Economics, UC San Diego. His main research interests are Industrial Organization, Environmental & Public Economics, and Behavioral Economics. He uses applied theory to inform microeconometric, ML and experimental empirical techniques.

Greg Lewis (Principal Researcher, MSR) 2007 PhD in Economics, University of Michigan. His work is unified by the twin goals of making better sense of microeconomic data, and using those insights to optimize firm decision making and improve market design. His work has spanned a range of industries – online retailing, online advertising, procurement, electricity, education – and has been published in top economics and management journals.

Markus Mobius (Principal Researcher, MSR) 2010 PhD in Economics, MIT. He uses theory and experimental techniques to study cooperation and learning in social learnings and motivated biases in individual learning. A current focus of his research is the news industry and the effects of aggregators and online social networks on news production and consumption.

Sida Peng (Researcher, Chief Economist Office) 2017 PhD in Economics, Cornell. His research interests include networks, high-dimensional statistics, and causal inference.

Brian Quistorff (Research Economist, Chief Economist Office) 2016 PhD in Economics, University of Maryland. His main research interests are Applied Microeconometrics, Labor, and Development.

David Rothschild (Economist, MSR) 2011 PhD in Applied economics, Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania. His work is on market intelligence: forecasting, and understanding public interest and sentiment. He creates new data collection and analytics techniques to make market intelligence more timely, scalable, flexible, and accurate.

Will Wang (Researcher, Chief Economist Office) 2017 PhD in Applied Economics, Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania. His research aims to understand how markets should be structured and how firms compete in price and product space. His interests include industrial organization and applied microeconomics as they relate to markets of technology and telecommunications. At Microsoft, he works on the economics of the cloud business.

Glen Weyl (Principal Researcher, MSR) 2008 PhD in Economics, Princeton University.  Senior Researcher, Sloan Research Fellow and Visiting Senior Researcher at the Yale Economics Department and Law School.  He works on how new economic institutions, such as alternatives to private property and standard voting, can expand the scope of market trade and thus social progress.  To design these institutions, his research integrates ideas from economics, law, philosophy, computer science, history and statistics.

Visitors

The visitor program allows professors to spend time in one of our labs, working our researchers and engaging with a unique group of cross-discipline researchers. There are regularly scheduled visitors who come weekly or monthly. And there are periodic visitors who do not have a scheduled visit, but as part of the empirical economics program regularly collaborate both in lab visits and off-site collaborations with Microsoft data.

Some thoughts on economics at Microsoft

“Economics is becoming an engineering discipline capable of providing rigorous answers to key questions facing Microsoft products, sales and Senior Leadership Team. Microsoft Economists are armed with cutting edge expertise in empirical economics enhanced by machine learning and market design theory, to bring the power of economics to all our products and services. We’re making sure Azure has all the capacity customers expect, predicting capacity and designing systems to avoid stock-outs. We’re assessing appropriate prices of Windows, Office, Surface, and more to make sure customers get great value. We’re honing the offers at Bing, both for customers and advertisers, to make the service that much more compelling for both. These are cutting-edge questions, applying the latest in economic theory and data processing to all manner of Microsoft technologies.” Michael Schwarz, CVP and Chief Economist at Microsoft

“Economics at Microsoft is playing an increasingly important role. Microsoft uses data to run its businesses and economists are valuable in both generating and understanding data, especially involving demographics and sample selection bias. Economists are heavily involved in pricing of Windows, Azure and other products. Economists work with Bing on market design, and we have recently started working with Xbox on a market design issue. We work with our legal department on various matters, and have begun working with sales on the economics of advanced technology products. While occasionally off-the-shelf technology works fine, we often find that applications of economic analysis to a business of Microsoft’s scale presents us unsolved problems, problems with independent, academic interest.” Preston McAfee, Former CVP and Chief Economist at Microsoft

“Microsoft Research is an amazing place to do research. On the theory side, the exposure to top computer scientists as well as to real-world problems of market design and the economics of platforms is incredibly stimulating. A number of exciting papers about market design in online advertising and mechanism design have emerged from MSR in the last few years. On the empirical side, researchers have been able to push the frontiers of “big data” research in a way that would not be possible almost anywhere else. The interdisciplinary environment together with the available computing resources allow economists coming from a “small data” world to learn both cutting edge techniques and practical aspects of working with large datasets, and the ability to do research on large datasets encourages researchers to discover new methods and as well as document important empirical results. Empirical and methodological research at MSR spans online advertising, empirical analysis of market design, privacy-preserving econometrics, the intersection of machine learning and econometrics, behavioral finance, social networks, and the news media.” Susan Athey, The Economics of Technology Professor at Stanford GSB, Visitor at MSR, and Founder of Empirical Economics group at Microsoft

“For more than twenty years, Microsoft Research has been the leading industrial venue for research in computer science and related fields. In that time it developed a research group that rivals the best academic departments in these areas. In the last decade Microsoft Research’s focus has increasingly moved beyond computer science and technology, narrowly defined, to the important economic and social context in which information is created, exchanged and consumed. As a result Susan Athey, Christian Borgs and I have worked to build the world’s best industrial economics research group, and I believe we have succeeded. Today, we can add our group of economists, in their areas of expertise, to the list of areas where we rival the top academic departments. Microsoft’s efforts in this area now seem very far sighted. Computer scientists are increasingly focusing on the incentives creating the data computers process, and economists are now using machine learning to analyze data and computational tools to design markets. This makes Microsoft Research uniquely positioned to be the primary venue for the most exciting advances in both fields in coming years. Furthermore, our home in Microsoft Corporation allows us not just to generate the most important insights, but to put them to work in building future of the digital economy.” –Jennifer Chayes, Managing Director (of Microsoft Research in New England and New York) and Distinguished Scientist

“Microsoft Research is the best environment for economic research I have ever encountered. We are constantly exposed to the questions that are reshaping the way the economy works and we are able to work on solving them in collaboration with the best computer scientists, mathematicians, sociologists and statisticians in the world. I have never before seen an interdisciplinary environment that really works, where people actively engage rather than talking past one another, like this one does. In one colloquium a computer scientist was presenting algorithmic guarantees on notions of privacy while a communications sociologist in the audience tried to articulate why this metric missed what people were really concerned about and the economists tried to translate these concerns into a quantitative model the computer scientist could analyze. This sort of collaboration, combined with the access to the best data in the world to test our theories and the complete freedom to work on the most productive topics without teaching obligations, makes the research we can complete at Microsoft unique.” Glen Weyl, Senior Researcher

Postdoctoral Researchers

The post-doc program is designed to bring post-docs to our New York and Cambridge labs for 1 or 2 years. The post-docs work closely with the other economists in the labs and, of course, their independent research. We have a strong record of placement coming out of our economics post-doc positions.

Current Post-Docs

  • Natalia Rigol (2018-2019)
  • Jann Spiess (2018-2019)

Past Post-Docs

Research Assistants

Microeconomics – Research Assistants

The research assistant program is designed to bring recent graduate wishing to gain research experience prior to pursuing a Ph.D. in economics, information systems, or computer science (with a focus in algorithmic economics or something similar). The program is a 2-year appointment in Cambridge, MA working with economist affiliated with Microsoft Research. The RAs who graduated the program have gone on to Berkeley, Harvard, MIT, Northwestern, Stanford GSB, University of Chicago and Yale. Many of our research assistants have taken classes at Harvard or MIT to augment their preparation for graduate school.

Below are the research assistants by the year they joined. For information on 2019 openings, please see the posted job description.

 

2017

 

Kelly Wagman

Kelly graduated from Brown University in 2014 with B.A.s in Economics and Computer Science. After graduating, she spent 2 years at Microsoft in Redmond as a software engineer working on internal tools for Office 365. While at Microsoft, she started a collaboration with the MIT Media Lab to design developer tools that use behavioral nudges to encourage better engineering practices. Kelly is currently pursuing her M.S. in Comparative Media Studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Surya Ierokomos

Surya graduated from New York University in 2017 with a B.A. in Mathematics and Economics. In college, Surya worked on an international trade research project at Columbia Business School and a health economics project at NYU Stern. After finishing his work at Microsoft, Surya enrolled in Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business to pursue a Ph.D. in Marketing.

2016

 

Tim O’Connor

Timothy received his MPhil in Economics from Oxford University in 2016. Prior to Oxford, he studied mathematics at the University of St. Thomas and worked in research on automated reassembly computer vision problems at the University of Minnesota. He is broadly interested in algorithmic design and applied micro theory after doing a thesis on budget constrained bidders within multi-object auctions. He is currently a Senior Data Scientist at Wayfair.

Alex Moehring

Alex graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2014 with a B.A. in Economics and a B.S. in Business Administration. Alex’s senior thesis studied the impact of perfect foresight of macroeconomic news releases on the performance of various portfolios. Before joining Microsoft, he worked as an economic analyst at Wells Fargo Securities. He is currently a Ph.D. Candidate in Information Technology at MIT Sloan School of Management.

2015

 

Aaron Kaye

Aaron completed an M.S. in Economics at Boston University in 2015. Before that, he worked as a Senior Analyst at Summit Consulting, a data analytics firm based in Washington, D.C. Aaron earned his B.A. in Economics with a minor in Math from Colby College in 2011. His is currently working toward his Ph.D. in Economics at the University of Michigan Ross School of Business.

Michael Kurish

Michael graduated from Columbia University in 2012 with a B.A. in Economics. He worked as an Analyst at Bank of America Merrill Lynch before joining Microsoft. Michael is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Marketing at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School.

2014

 

Eva Lyubich

Eva graduated from Brown University in 2014 with a B.S. in physics. After completing her work at Microsoft, Eva began working toward a Ph.D. in Economics at the University of California, Berkeley.

Matt Hlavacek

Matthew graduated from Northwestern University in 2014 with a B.S. in Computer Science. While there, he worked as a co-op in a speech processing research group at the Department of Defense. After he completed his work at Microsoft, Matt enrolled in Columbia University to pursue a Ph.D. in Operations.

Sebastian Steffen

Sebastian received his B.A. in Economics from Princeton in 2013 and worked as an Analyst at Cornerstone Research before he joined the Microsoft. He wrote his senior Thesis on the effect of default options on tipping by exploiting a natural experiment in NY taxi cabs. He is interested in Behavioral Economics, Applied Micro, and the intersection between Economics and Technology. Sebastian is currently a Ph.D. candidate in Information Technology at MIT Sloan School of Management.

Siddarth Viswanathan

Siddarth graduated from Harvard University with a B.A. in Statistics in 2014. He wrote a thesis on causal inference for networked populations advised by Edoardo Airoldi and is interested in pursuing research at the intersection of economics, law, machine learning, and complexity theory.

2013

 

Ishita Chordia

Ishita graduated from Duke in 2013 with a B.S. in Economics. Her senior thesis looked at the economic indicators of the onset and severity of civil conflicts. Following her work at Microsoft, she worked as Lead Data Analyst at Teach for India. Ishita is currently pursuing her Ph.D. in Information Science at the University of Washington.

Jonathan Gu

Jonathan graduated from the University of California, Berkeley with a B.A. in Statistics and Economics. After working at Microsoft, he headed back to California to pursue his Ph.D. in Economics at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Kyle Miller

Kyle graduated with a B.S. in Mathematics with Computer Science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Following his work at Microsoft, Kyle enrolled in the University of California, Berkeley to pursue his Ph.D. in Mathematics.

Christian Perez

Christian received his B.S. in Math and Economics from MIT in June 2012. He is mainly interested in research on social networks, behavioral economics, and labor economics, and how economics interacts with cognitive psychology, moral philosophy, linguistics, law, and epistemology.

2012

 

Rob Donnelly

Rob graduated Phi Beta Kappa and magna cum laude from Pomona College with a B.A. in Mathematics and Economics. After finishing his research at Microsoft, Rob completed his Ph.D. in Economics at the Stanford University Graduate School of Business. He is now working as a Core Data Scientist at Facebook.

Samuel Grondahl

Samuel graduated from Yale College in May 2012 with a B.A. in Economics. His senior essay, written under Sigridur Benediktsdottir, focused on the efficiency of relationship lending in the U.S. syndicated loan market. Following his work at Microsoft, he went to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to pursue his Ph.D. in Economics.

Zhenyu Lai

Zhenyu Lai received his B.A. in Economics and Operations Research Management Science from the University of California, Berkeley in 2008. After his time at Microsoft, Zhenyu completed his Ph.D. in Economics at Harvard University. He is now the Director of Algorithms and Data Science at Wayfair.

2011

 

Zarek Brot-Goldberg

Zarek received his B.S. in Mathematics & Economics from American University in 2011. His senior thesis focused on the impact of the No Child Left Behind Act minimum education standards on risky behavior in young adults. Following his time at Microsoft, he decided to pursue his Ph.D. in Economics at the University of California, Berkeley.

Bryan Callaway

Bryan is a Phi Beta Kappa and Summa Cum Laude graduate of William & Mary. He joined Microsoft from the Federal Reserve Board of Governors in the Division of Monetary Affairs. While at the Federal Reserve, Bryan was responsible for developing the Board’s proprietary exotic and fixed-income derivative pricing models and algorithms. Following his work at Microsoft, Bryan completed his M.S. at Stanford University and is now a Quantitative Researcher at Squarepoint Capital.

Jeff Qiu

Jeff received his B.A. in economics and statistics from Berkeley in 2010, and M.S. in econometrics and mathematical economics from the London School of Economics in 2011. He wrote his undergraduate honor thesis under Emmanuel Saez on the 2009-2010 Fiscal Stimulus in China; while the master thesis centered in empirically testing the inter-family transfer motivation in China. After completing his work at Microsoft, Jeff went on to pursue a Ph.D. in Economics at Yale University.

Daniel Waldinger

Daniel received his BA in mathematics and economics from the University of Chicago in the spring of 2010. After Microsoft, he completed his Ph.D. in Economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is currently a faculty member in New York University’s Economics department.

2010

 

Andrew Bacher-Hicks

Andrew received his Bachelor of Arts in economics from The College of William and Mary in 2008. His senior thesis is under review for publication and focused on the household outcomes of water privatization in Albania. After graduation, Andrew worked as an Analyst at Cornerstone Research, an economic consulting firm specializing in complex litigation matters, where he focused his work on the firm’s antitrust and securities practice areas. Following his time at Microsoft, Andrew assisted with research at the Harvard Education Lab and is now a Ph.D. candidate in Public Policy at the Kennedy School at Harvard University.

Jiashuo (Josh) Feng

Josh graduated magna cum laude and phi beta kappa from Harvard College in May 2010, completing a BA in Applied Mathematics with a minor in Computer Science. He wrote his thesis with Raj Chetty on optimal taxation, focusing on simple graduated systems. After his time at Microsoft, he completed his Ph.D. in Economics at Harvard University. Josh is now a faculty member in the finance department of the University of Utah.

Alex Limonov

Alex received his B.A. in Economics at the University of Maryland, College Park, in 2008, and subsequently worked on the valuation of environmental amenities and health risk inequity in the U.S., and evaluation of the consequences of electric utility reform in India. At Microsoft, he worked on methods of validating online ad auction models with Dr. Susan Athey. After Microsoft, Alex enrolled in the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University as a Ph.D. Student.

Marco Martinez

Marco received his M.A. in Economics from El Colegio de México. After school, Marco worked a Research Fellow at the Interamerican Development Bank and at the Research Department in the World Bank, focusing on Trade Facilitation and FDI topics. He left his research position at Microsoft Research to pursue his Ph.D. at the Harris School of Public Policy at the University of Chicago.

2009

 

Chris Sullivan

Chris graduated from Harvard College in June 2009, completing a B.A. in economics with a minor in molecular and cellular biology. He wrote his thesis with Greg Lewis on the determinants to entry into eBay motors auctions. Following his position at Microsoft, Chris completed his Ph.D. in Economics at the University of Michigan. He is now a faculty member in the economics department at the University of Wisconsin.

 

Interns

Microeconomics – Interns

The internship program is designed to bring graduate students to either the New York or Cambridge labs for 10 weeks. During that time they work with a full-time researcher on a project. The goal is to product at least one academic paper during the time. Most students choose to come during the summer, but interns can come at any point during the year.

People

Current Members

Microeconomics Visitors