Microeconomics

Established: July 13, 2015

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

Markus Mobius (Principal Researcher, MSR)

Glen Weyl (Senior 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.

Greg Lewis (Senior 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.

Matt Taddy (Principal Researcher, MSR)

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.

Justin Rao (Senior Researcher, MSR and Chief Economist Office)

Preston McAfee (CVP and Chief Economist) 1980, PhD, Purdue. Formerly with Google, Yahoo, Caltech and University of Texas. Currently, Corporate Vice-President, Chief Economist, Microsoft. Author of more than 100 articles, three books on pricing, auctions, antitrust, and business strategy, and of a free economics text (www.introecon.com)Co-Inventor of the simultaneous ascending auction. Has testified in high profile antitrust cases like Exxon- Mobil, BP-Arco, Peoplesoft-Oracle, FTC v. Rambus. Recipient, Sparc Innovator award, for his free economics text.

Jacob LaRiviere (Senior Researcher, Chief Economist Office)

Matt Goldman (Researcher, Chief Economist Office)

Brian Quistroff  (Researcher, Chief Economist Office)

Simon Wilkie (Senior Economist, Chief Economist Office)

Post-Docs

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

Annie Liang (2016-2017)

Jie Bai (2016-2017)

Hyojin Song (2015-2017)

Past Post-Docs

Ricardo Perez-Truglia (UCLA Anderson, 2014-2016)

Josh Mollner Kellogg, 2015-2016)

Etan Green Wharton (2015-2016)

Gautam Rao Harvard (2014-2015)

Omer Tamuz Caltech (2013-2015)

Philipp Strack Berkeley (2013-2014)

Philipp Strack is a microeconomic theorist who studied Economics and Mathematics in Bonn, Germany. “After my PhD in 2013 I had the chance to spend a year at Microsoft Research New England before moving to UC Berkeley. The year at Microsoft was a terrific experience: The combination of world leading scientists in Mathematics, Computer Science, Social Science and Economics helped me to gain a different research perspective on many topics ranging from gender identity to computability of Nash equilibrium. The cross disciplinary discussion fostered by the friendly environment were not only intellectually stimulating, but allowed me to learn new mathematical techniques from my colleagues and lead to several joined papers on the intersection between mathematics, computer-science and economics. The year at Microsoft New England broadened my research agenda in economics.”

Gabriel Carroll Stanford (2012-2013)

Arun Chandrasekhar Stanford (2012-2013)

Jacob Leshno Columbia – GSB (2012-2013)

Alexander Wolitzky MIT (2011-2012)

Matt Elliot Caltech (2011-2012)

M. Bumin Yenmez Carnegie Mellon – Tepper (2010-2011)

Maher Said NYU – Stern (2009-2010)

Visitors

Microeconomics – 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.

Current Visitors

Current visitors include: Hunt Allcott (NYU), Stephen Morris (Princeton), Yeon-Koo Che (Columbia), Johannes Hörner (Yale), Parag Pathak (MIT), Muhamet Yildiz (MIT), Drew Fudenberg (Harvard), Victor Chernozhukov (MIT), Bruno Strulovici (Northwestern), Jesse Shapiro (Brown), Matt Jackson (Stanford), Robin Lee (Harvard), Dirk Bergemann (Yale), Matt Backus (Columbia)

New York

Hunt Alcott NYU (Monthly, 2015-2016)

Stephen Morris Princeton (Monthly, 2015-2016)

Yeon-Koo Che Columbia (Monthly, 2015-2016)

Johannes Hörner Yale (Monthly, 2015-2016)

Dirk Bergemann Yale (Monthly, 2011 (Fall); Weekly, 2015-2016)

Matt Buckus Columbia (Monthly, 2015-2016)

Andrea Prat Columbia (Monthly, 2016)

New England

Parag Pathak MIT (Weekly, 2015-2016)

Muhamet Yildiz MIT (Weekly, 2015-2016)

Drew Fudenberg Harvard (Weekly, 2015-2016)

Victor Chernozhukov MIT (Weekly, 2015-2016)

Jesse Shapiro Brown (Monthly, 2015)

Robin Lee Harvard (Weekly, 2015 (Fall))

Alexander Wolitzky MIT (Weekly, 2016)

Georgios Zervas BU (Weekly, 2014-)

Susan Athey Stanford (Periodic, 2007-)

Stefano Dellavigna Berkeley (Periodic)

Denis Nekipelov Virginia (Periodic)

Ben Handel Berkeley (Periodic)

Jon Kolstad Berkeley (Periodic)

Amitabh Chandra Harvard (Periodic)

Past Visitors

Bruno Strulovici Northwestern (Full-time, 2015 (Fall))

Matt Jackson Stanford (Weekly, 2015 (Fall))

Scott Duke Kominers Harvard Society of Fellows (Monthly, 2014-2015)

Nageeb Ali Penn State (Full-time, 2011-2012 & 2014-2015)

Ali Hortacsu Chicago (Periodic)

Daniele Paserman BU (Full-time, 2014 (Spring))

Denis Nekipelov Berkeley (Full-time, 2013 (Fall))

David Miller Michigan (Full-time, 2012-2013)

Juuso Toikka MIT (Full-time, 2012 (Spring))

Michael Grubb BC (Full-time, 2012 (Fall))

Paul Niehaus UCSD (Full-time, 2012 (Fall))

Alessandro Bonatti MIT (Full-time, 2011 (Spring) & 2012 (Spring))

Mihai Manea MIT (Full-time, 2011 (Summer))

Bart Lipman BU (Full-time, 2011 (Fall))

Glenn Ellison MIT (Full-time, 2010-2011)

Utku Unver BC (Full-time, 2010 (Fall))

Daron Acemoglu MIT (Full-time, 2008-2009)

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.

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 2017 openings, please see the posted job description.

2015

Aaron Kaye

Aaron completed a Master’s in Economics at Boston University in 2015. Before attending BU, he worked for three years 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 interests include health economics, industrial organization, housing, and political economy.

Michael Kurish

Michael graduated from Columbia University in 2012 with a B.A. in Economics. He went to work as an Analyst at Bank of America Merrill Lynch for two years before changing career focus towards research. He is interested in behavioral economics, financial economics, and applied micro. He is also interested in how the application of economic theory and research informs business and policy decisions.

2014

Eva Lyubich

Eva graduated from Brown University in 2014 with a Sc.B in physics. Her research interests lie in behavioral economics, development economics, and game theory. In the long term, Eva is interested in understanding how these fields inform environmental and climate policy.

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. His current interests lie in the areas of applied machine learning, distributed machine learning, and the intersection of CS and economics

Sebastian Steffen

Sebastian received his Economics B.A. from Princeton in 2013 and worked as an Analyst at Cornerstone Research before he joined the MSR. He is interested in Behavioral Economics, Applied Micro, and the intersection between Economics and Technology. He wrote his Senior Thesis on the effect of default options on tipping by exploiting a natural experiment in NY taxi cabs and is currently working with Markus Mobius on analyzing online news consumption and the spread of information in twitter networks. He also studies advertiser behavior in auction markets with Susan Athey.

Siddarth Viswanathan

Siddarth graduated in 2014 from Harvard with an AB in Statistics. 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 and a great appreciation for college basketball. Her senior thesis looked at the economic indicators of the onset and severity of civil conflicts. More broadly, her research interests include development, behavioral, and health economics.

Jonathan Gu

Jonathan is now a Ph.D. candidate in Economics at UCLA. He graduated from UC Berkeley with Bachelor’s degrees in Statistics and in Economics. For the past two years he has focused on applying machine learning algorithms to large datasets involving sports betting. He will now wield these big data optimization and probabilistic techniques for the purposes of classifying and modeling human behavior.

Kyle Miller

Kyle is now a Ph.D. candidate in Mathematics at Berkeley. He graduated with an S.B. in Mathematics with Computer Science from MIT. Very broadly, he is interested in the correspondence between rules and observed behavior, for instance patterns in algebra or programming language design. He is working as an RA with the empirical microeconomics group analyzing large data sets.

Christian Perez

Christian received his B.Sc. in Math and Economics from MIT in June 2012. He is 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 is now a Ph.D. candidate in Economics at Stanford GSB. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa and magna cum laude from Pomona College with a BA in Mathematics and a minor in Economics. Since graduating, Rob has worked in economic litigation consulting here in Boston. He will be joining the Empirical Economics Team, researching online advertising auctions. Rob’s research interests include mechanism design, industrial organization, and empirical econometrics.

Samuel Grondahl

Samuel is now a Ph.D. candidate in Economics at MIT. He graduated 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. In the future, he hopes to pursue a PhD in Economics with a focus on econometrics.

Zhenyu Lai

Zhenyu Lai is now a Ph.D. candidate in Economics at Harvard University. His research is in industrial organization, with application to internet markets and a focus on design, incentives and dynamics. Associated interests include estimating structural models and computing dynamic games.

2011

Zarek Brot-Goldberg

Zarek is now a Ph.D. candidate in Economics at Berkeley. He received his B.S. in Mathematics & Economics from American University in 2011. His senior thesis focused on the impact of No Child Left Behind Act minimum education standards on risky behavior in young adults. He is interested in mechanism design, behavioral economics and agent-based simulation.

Bryan Callaway

Bryan joined MSR-NE from the Federal Reserve Board of Governors in the Division of Monetary Affairs under Chairman Ben Bernanke. While at the Federal Reserve, Bryan was responsible for developing the Board’s proprietary exotic and fixed-income derivative pricing models and algorithms. Before joining the Fed, Bryan spent several summers interning as a financial engineer for the U.S. government during the subprime meltdown. He is a Phi Beta Kappa and Summa Cum Laude graduate of William & Mary.

Jeff Qiu

Jeff is now a Ph.D. candidate in Economics at Yale University. He received his B.A. in economics and statistics from Berkeley in 2010, and M.Sc 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. Jeff’s general interests are in econometric theory and applied econometrics.

Daniel Waldinger

Dan is now a Ph.D. candidate in Economics at MIT. He received his BA in mathematics and economics from the University of Chicago in the spring of 2010.

2010

Andrew Bacher-Hicks

Andrew is now a Ph.D. candidate in Public Policy at the Kennedy School at Harvard University. He 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 for two years in Washington, DC as an Analyst at Cornerstone Research, an economic consulting firm specializing in complex litigation matters. Andrew focused his work at Cornerstone on the firm’s antitrust and securities practice areas.

Jiashuo (Josh) Feng

Josh is now a Ph.D. candidate in Economics at Harvard University. He 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. He is interested in auction design and more generally applied theory.

Alex Limonov

Alex is now a Ph.D. candidate at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. He received his BA in Economics at the University of Maryland, College Park, in 2008, and has subsequently worked on valuation of environmental amenities and health risk inequity in the U.S., and evaluation of the consequences of electric utility reform in India, with Dr. Maureen Cropper at Resources for the Future in Washington, DC. He has been a member of the Empirical Economics Team at MSR-NE since July 2010, and is currently working on methods of validating online ad auction models with Dr. Susan Athey.

Marco Martinez

Marco is now a Ph.D. candidate at the Harris School of Public Policy at the University of Chicago. He received his M.A. in Economics from El Colegio de México. After school, Marco worked for two years in Washington D.C. as a Research Fellow at the Interamerican Development Bank. In his career at the Bank, he worked on Trade and Transport Costs research papers in Latin America. He subsequently worked for one year at the Research Department in the World Bank, focusing on Trade Facilitation and FDI topics. His interests include browsing behavior, health economics and international trade.

2009

Chris Sullivan

Chris is now a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Michigan. Chris graduated from Harvard College in June 2009, completing a BA 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. His interests include auctions, auction design, and consumer behavior.

Some thoughts on economics 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, CVP and Chief Economist

“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

People

Projects

Alice

Established: December 5, 2016

Alice Automated Learning and Intelligence for Causation and Economics Alice is a research project at the intersection of Economics and Artificial Intelligence.  We seek to build tools and techniques that combine state-of-the-art machine learning with econometrics – the measurement of…