Paul R. Milgrom

Paul R. Milgrom
Professor (by courtesy), Economics
Contact Info
Shirley R. and Leonard W. Ely Jr. Professor of Humanities and Sciences, School of Humanities and Sciences
Professor of Management Science and Engineering (by courtesy), School of Engineering
Senior Fellow, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research
Academic Area: 

Research Statement

Paul Milgrom's primary research is directed to designing auctions for multiple unique but related items. Along with Robert Wilson, he introduced the initial design for sales of radio spectrum licenses in the United States. He has designed new auctions for Internet advertising and for procuring complex services. Research on incentives and complexity are combined to create auctions that are simple and straightforward for bidders, yet which dramatically improve resource allocation compared to traditional auction designs.


Paul Milgrom is the Shirley and Leonard Ely professor of Humanities and Sciences in the department of economics and professor by courtesy at the Graduate School of Business. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and director of the Market Design program at SIEPR.

After earning his PhD at the GSB, Milgrom taught at Northwestern University and Yale before returning to Stanford. He has made well-known contributions to many areas of economics, including auctions, incentive theory, industrial economics, economic history, economics of manufacturing, economics of organizations, and game theory. His book coauthored with John Roberts, Economics, Organization and Management, opened a new area to economic research.

He is best known, however, for his contributions to the theory of auctions, much of which is summarized in his book, Putting Auction Theory to Work, published by Cambridge University Press, and for his contributions to the practice of auction design. According to the National Science Foundation, Milgrom was the main academic contributor to the original FCC spectrum auction design – the simultaneous ascending auction. This design, which Milgrom developed with colleagues Robert Wilson and Preston McAfee, has been copied and adapted for dozens of auctions of radio spectrum, electricity, and natural gas involving hundreds of billion dollars worldwide. Still active in both the theory and practice of auction design, Milgrom has advised Microsoft Networks on sponsored search auctions, Google on its IPO auction of shares, Yahoo! on the design of an advertising marketplace, the Oregon Public Utilities Commission on sales of generating assets, Mexico on privatization auctions of state-owned assets, and various spectrum regulators in the US, UK, Canada, Australia, Germany, and Mexico on sales of radio spectrum.

Academic Degrees

  • PhD in Business, Stanford University, 1979
  • MS in Statistics, Stanford University, 1978
  • MA (Honors), Yale University, 1982
  • AB, University of Michigan, 1970

Academic Appointments

  • At Stanford University since 1987
  • Shirley R. and Leonard W. Ely Jr. Professor of Humanities and Sciences, Stanford University Economics Department, 1993-present
  • Professor of Economics, Stanford University Economics Department, 1987-1993
  • Williams Brothers Professor of Management, Yale University, 1985-1987
  • Professor of Management, Yale University, 1983-1985
  • Assistant Professor and Professor of Economics, Northwestern University, 1979-1983

Awards and Honors

  • John J. Carty Award for the Advancement of Science, National Academy of Sciences, 2018
  • Nemmers Prize in Economics, Northwestern University, 2008
  • Fellow, National Academy of Sciences, 2006
  • Fellow, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 1992
  • Fellow, Econometric Society, 1984
  • BBVA Foundation Fronters of Knowledge Prize, 2013


Journal Articles

Paul R. Milgrom, Ilya Segal. Journal of Political Economy. January 2020, Vol. 128, Issue 1, Pages 1-31.
John William Hatfield, Paul R. Milgrom. American Economic Review. 2005, Vol. 95, Issue 4, Pages 913-915.
Lawrence M. Ausubel, Paul R. Milgrom. Advances in Theoretical Economics. 2002, Vol. 1, Issue 1, Pages 1534-5963.
Paul R. Milgrom. Journal of Political Economy. April 2000, Vol. 108, Issue 2, Pages 245-272.
Paul R. Milgrom, John Roberts. American Economic Review. March 1996, Vol. 86, Issue 1, Pages 173-179.
Paul R. Milgrom, John Roberts. Journal of Accounting and Economics. 1995, Vol. 19, Issue 2-3, Pages 179-208.
Bengt Holmstrom, Paul R. Milgrom. American Economic Review. September 1994, Vol. 84, Issue 4, Pages 972-991.
Paul R. Milgrom. Contingent Valuation: A Critical Assessment . Emerald Group Publishing Limited, 1993, Pages 417-441.
Paul R. Milgrom, Yingyi Qian, John Roberts. American Economic Review, Papers and Proceedings. May 1991, Vol. 81, Issue 2, Pages 84-88.
Paul R. Milgrom, John Roberts. Econometrica. 1990, Vol. 58, Issue 6, Pages 1255-1277.
Paul R. Milgrom, John Roberts. American Economic Review. 1990, Vol. 80, Issue 3, Pages 511-528.
Paul R. Milgrom, John Roberts. American Journal of Sociology. 1988, Vol. 94, Issue Supplement: Organizations and Institutions: Sociological and Economic Approaches to the Analysis of Social Structure , Pages S154-S179.
Paul R. Milgrom. Journal of Political Economy. 1988, Vol. 96, Issue 1, Pages 42-60.
Paul R. Milgrom, Robert J. Weber. Econometrica. September 1982, Vol. 50, Issue 5, Pages 1089-1122.


Paul R. Milgrom Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004.
Paul R. Milgrom, John Roberts Prentice Hall, February 11, 1992.

Book Chapters

Jeremy I. Bulow, Jonathan Levin, Paul R. Milgrom. Spectrum Auction Design. Cambridge University PRess, 2017.

Working Papers

Redesigning Spectrum Licenses to Encourage Innovation and Investment | PDF
Paul R. Milgrom, E. Glen Weyl, Anthony Lee Zhang, September 172017


Degree Courses


This class will focus on several topics in auction market design and related areas. It is an advanced course, intended as a sequel to the more basic market/mechanism/auction design courses offered at the Economics department and the GSB. Students...

Stanford Case Studies

Service to the Profession

  • Member, National Academy of Sciences, 2006-present
  • Executive Committee Member, Econometric Society, 2005-present
  • Fellow, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 1992-present
  • Fellow, Econometric Society, 1984-present

In the Media

Northwestern University News, April 2008

School News

March 28, 2018
Three award-winning economists talk about where the field has been and where it’s heading.
January 17, 2018
David Kreps, Paul Milgrom, and Robert Wilson have been honored for their pioneering work using game theory to help solve real-world problems.
February 27, 2017
A recent two-day symposium celebrated the depth and breadth of impact by faculty member David Kreps in choice theory, finance, game theory, economics.
November 1, 2010
John Roberts' groundbreaking work in industrial organization affected the course of economic research and inspired a new generation of economists.