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.
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 (Partner 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 (Senior 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 Principal Researcher, 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 (Senior 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 (Senior 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 (Senior Research Economist, Chief Economist Office) 2017 PhD in Economics, Cornell. His research interests include networks, high-dimensional statistics, and causal inference.
Brian Quistorff (Senior Research Economist, Chief Economist Office) 2016 PhD in Economics, University of Maryland. His main research interests are Applied Microeconometrics, Labor, and Development.
David Rothschild (Principal Researcher, 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 (Senior Research Economist, 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 (Political Economist & Social Technologist, 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.
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