Paul R. Milgrom

Professor (by courtesy), Economics
+1 (650) 723-3397

Paul R. Milgrom

Professor of Economics (by courtesy)

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.


Milgrom is the Shirley and Leonard Ely professor of Humanities and Sciences in the department of economics and professor by courtesy at Stanford 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 Stanford 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 U.S., 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

  • Nobel Prize in Economics, The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, 2020
  • 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 Frontiers of Knowledge Prize, 2013


Journal Articles

Mohammad Akbarpour, Scott Duke Kominers, Kevin Michael Li, Shengwu Li, Paul R. Milgrom
November 2023 Vol. 91 Issue 6 Pages 1969–2003
Martin Bichler, Paul R. Milgrom, Gregor Schwarz
Management Science
April 2023 Vol. 69 Issue 4 Pages 1935–2545
Eva M. Meyersson Milgrom, Paul R. Milgrom, Ravi Singh
Management Science
January 2023 Vol. 69 Issue 1 Pages 404–418
Paul R. Milgrom
American Economic Review
May 2021 Vol. 111 Issue 5 Pages 1383–1405
Paul R. Milgrom, Ilya Segal
Journal of Political Economy
January 2020 Vol. 128 Issue 1 Pages 1-31
Jonathan Levin, Paul R. Milgrom
American Economic Review
May 2010 Vol. 100 Issue 2 Pages 603–607
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, Yingyi Qian, John Roberts
American Economic Review, Papers and Proceedings
May 1991 Vol. 81 Issue 2 Pages 84-88
Paul R. Milgrom, John Roberts
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
September 1982 Vol. 50 Issue 5 Pages 1089-1122


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

Book Chapters

Jeremy I. Bulow, Jonathan Levin, Paul R. Milgrom
Handbook of Spectrum Auction Design
2017 Pages 689–712

Working Papers

Billy Ferguson, Paul R. Milgrom December 2023
Paul R. Milgrom, E. Glen Weyl, Anthony Lee Zhang September 17, 2017

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

Insights by Stanford Business

April 18, 2024
Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Milgrom is tackling an urgent market design problem: how to get water to those who need it most.
November 25, 2020
Robert Wilson and Paul Milgrom show how auctions, if designed correctly, can help distribute resources more fairly.
March 28, 2018
Three award-winning economists talk about where the field has been and where it’s heading.

School News

April 14, 2021
How the Stanford GSB campus and community responded to the pandemic — as told through images.
October 12, 2020
“Bob brought economic theory to the real world, both as a mechanism for understanding ‘how things work’ and then in the design of better institutions.”
October 12, 2020
The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences cited the pair for improvements to auction theory and inventions of new auction formats.
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 01, 2010
John Roberts' groundbreaking work in industrial organization affected the course of economic research and inspired a new generation of economists.