Yesterday, March 20th, was Match Day 2015, when graduating medical school students are matched with residency programs. The problem of matching residents to hospitals was one of the primary applications that motivated Gale and Shapley to formalize the stable marriage problem back in 1962. In fact, the National Residency Matching Program uses a variant of Gale and Shapley’s original algorithm which they describe in their seminal paper, College Admissions and the Stability of Marriage.
Azure Gilman just published a wonderful article (full disclosure: Azure interviewed me for the article) on this year’s Match Day festivities at Columbia University. One thing I find fascinating about Match Day is that it exposes a very tangible impact that algorithm design can have on our lives. Typically in the computer science setting, we discuss only the computational complexity of an abstract problem, or the efficiency of an algorithm designed to solve a problem. But Match Day gives a prescient example of how algorithm design can impact the very trajectories of people’s lives.