BIOGRAPHY OF MARILDA SOTOMAYOR
by David Pérez-Castrillo
Marilda Sotomayor was born on March 13, 1944, in Rio de Janeiro. She got married in 1970 with Jorge Sotomayor and has two children, one son and one daughter. She graduated in Mathematics in 1967 from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ), received her Master degree in Mathematics in 1972 from the Institute of Pure and Applied Mathematics (IMPA) and her PhD in Mathematics in 1981 from the Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro (PUC/RJ) and IMPA. She also obtained the Privat Dozen in 1999 from the University of São Paulo/SP (USP/SP). Before joining the University of São Paulo/SP in 1997, she taught at the Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro, University of the State of Rio de Janeiro and Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, where she got her first retirement.
Due to the absence of specialists in her area in Brazil, she realized very early that she should look for knowledge to get scientific independence in good foreign institutions. Thus, she did several postdoctoral stages, short visits for seminars and conversations with the local researchers, and many participation in international conferences. After she became a senior researcher, these activities have shown to be crucial to promote her scientific interaction with other world experts.
Her first international stage, and also her first position as Research Associate, was at the Department of Mathematics of the University of California, Berkeley (USA), from January 1983 to December 1984. During this period she received a postdoctoral fellowship from CNPq and worked with David Gale, who introduced her to Matching Markets. At that time, and until very recently, there was no game theorist working at a Brazilian University. Thus, Marilda was the pioneer of Game Theory in Brazil and is still the only major specialist in Matching Markets in the country.
Gale not only proposed several interesting problems to Marilda, which resulted in joint papers, but he also read and commented her papers, with valuable suggestions in all aspects before their submission for publication. In gratitude to his precious guidance in her career, she dedicated three of her papers to him and organized, in 2007, the Gale’s Feast, a congress at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, in commemoration of his 85th birthday.
From 1985 to 1997 Marilda hold a Visiting Researcher position at the Department of Economics of the University of Pittsburgh (USA), where she spent two months every year (except for 1989, when she spent six months, and for 1996 and 1997, when she spent one year in order to fulfill the requirements of her 1993 Guggenheim Fellowship). In Pittsburg, she interacted with Alvin Roth, one of the winners of the Nobel Prize of Economics in 2012. That fruitful collaboration resulted in four joint papers and the famous book “Two-sided matching: A study in game theoretic modeling and analysis,” awarded in 1990 with the Lanchester Prize, by the Operations Reasearch Society of America.
She also took a joint position of Research Associate at the Institute des Hautes Études Scientifiques and Laboratoire d'Économetrie de l'École Polytechnique (France), three months in 1985 and six months in 1990, where she interacted with Gabrielle Demange and David Gale (he had a half-part time position at Ecole Polytechnique). From that interaction, one joint paper with Demange and Gale ensued. Also, during the visit in 1990, Marilda had very profitable discussions with Gale that contributed to her future research.
She visited the Department of Economic History of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (Spain) for several short periods, invited to give seminars or to participate in a PhD thesis. In 1997 and, recently, in 2015, she spent there one month. In both stays she worked with David Perez-Castrillo. In 1997 they started a collaboration that persists until nowadays and has led to two joint papers and to two joint working papers.
Finally, Marilda hold a half-part time position as Distinguished Visiting Professor of the Department of Economics at Brown University (USA) from 2006 to 2010. During her visit, she supported several Brazilian students who were accepted in the PhD program of the Department of Economics at Brown University. This is particularly important due to the lack of a sufficient number of specialists to implement graduate programs in several scientific areas, as for example Game Theory, in the Brazilian universities.
Marilda is presently retired from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro and from the University of São Paulo, where she teaches a graduate mini-course on Game Theory every year. She also has a permanent visiting position at the Graduate School of Economics of the Getulio Vargas Foundation-RJ.
Marilda has written about 50 papers and one book, which made her a well-known researcher, internationally and nationally. However, her contributions to the scientific community go well beyond her writings. She has served as Associate Editor of Econometrica and the Brazilian Review of Econometrics and as guest Editor of the International Journal of Game Theory for the issue “A collection of papers dedicated to David Gale on the occasion of his 85th birthday,” published in 2008. Presently she serves as Associate Editor of the International Journal of Game Theory. She was also Editor of the session on Game theory of the Encyclopedia of Complexity and Systems Sciences, published by Springer in 2009. She has served as Chair of the Latin American Standing Committee of the Econometric Society in 2015, Council member of the Econometric Society (a position where she has been elected four times), member of the Nominating Committee for Officers and for Fellows of the Econometric Society, President of the Latin American Standing Committee of the Econometric Society; and member of the program committee of several international congresses, including the Latin American Meetings of the Econometric Society, World Congresses of the Econometric Society, and the 3rd, 4th, and 5th World Congress of the Game Theory Society.
For her scientific and academic contributions, Marilda has received many academic distinctions, including her election for the Brazilian Academy of Sciences in 2015, and her appointment as Fellow of the Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory in 2015, the J. S. Guggenheim Foundation in 1993, and the Econometric Society in 2003. She was honored with the publication in 2015 by the Journal of Dynamics and Games of the Special issue on Matching: Theory and Applications, dedicated to her on the occasion of her 70th birthday.” Also, in 2010 she and Alvin Roth were honored with “Roth and Sotomayor. Twenty years after,” a congress at Duke University celebrating the 20th anniversary of the book “Two-sided Matching: A Study in Game Theoretic Modeling and Analysis.” She was named “Patron of the graduating students of Economic Sciences of the University of São Paulo” at Ribeirão Preto in 2006. Finally, among her many lectures, she gave the Opening Lecture at the Brazilian Meeting of ANPEC in 2012 and the Opening Lecture at Department of Economics of ESALQ, São Paulo, in 2014.
Marilda has also received several prizes. She was awarded her first prize already in 1953 in a competition in mathematics among all elementary public schools of the District of Jacarepagua, in the city of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Also in 1956 she received a medal awarded by the Ministry of Agriculture, as the second prize in a competition called "Give trees to Brazil,” among all high schools of the city of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. For her contributions to Game Theory, she has been awarded the Lanchester Prize in 1990 (with medal) by the Mathematical of Operations Research Society of America, the Adriano Romariz Duarte prize in 1996 by the Brazilian Journal of Econometrics, the Haralambos Simeonides prize in 2001 by ANPEC-Brazil, the Mario Henrique Simonsen price in 2006 by the Brazilian Journal of Economy, and the Medal of Honor in 2013, awarded by the Order of the Economists of Brazil.
Perhaps the most representative and outstanding scientific contribution of Marilda to Brazil has been the scientific and local organization of three international workshops on Game Theory at the University of São Paulo, in 2002, 2010 and 2014. These workshops, which received the stamp of excellency from the Game Theory Society, brought to Brazil the most renowned researchers in the Theory of Games. More importantly, they contributed to change the scenery from almost total lack of interest on Game Theory at the Brazilian Universities to a new era of increasing interest on this field among Brazilian academics. In fact, before these workshops, Theory of Games was not considered of interest among the Brazilian economists. However, already after the first workshop, an increasing number of courses of Game Theory started being offered in Brazilian universities.
The first workshop had 200 participants, half of them from abroad, and 60 students, almost all of them Brazilian and from São Paulo. There were no funds from the public Research Supporting Institutions because a congress on Game Theory was not priority in Brazil and several Brazilian Universities did not support their students. Similarly, private Institutions, like banks, did not support the congress because they thought that Game Theory was not useful for their business. Despite the financial difficulties, the workshop could take place thanks to the registration fees and the invited participants’ willingness to use their own grants to attend the congress, and it was a big success.
After the first workshop, the situation changed dramatically. For the second workshop, which honored John Nash, FAPESP (Research Foundation of the State of São Paulo) provided funds to cover the travel and accommodation expenses during the 8 days of the workshop for 100 students, 50 Brazilian and 50 from foreign Universities, and for all 30 invited speakers. The congress also received some substantial funds from one of the Brazilian Banks that were used to cover the social activities, transportation from hotels, etc. There were 300 participants, 100 of them students.
The third workshop celebrated the 70th birthday of Marilda. It was an enormous success with more than 400 participants, 150 of them students (90 Brazilian and 60 from foreign Universities). The congress received funds from FAPESP and three Banks provided complementary funds.
The workshops brought to Brazil the most important world experts in Game Theory, including Nobel laureates in Economics Robert Aumann (who participated in the three meetings), Robert Myerson (in the first two meetings), Eric Maskin and John Nash (who attended the last two workshops), and Alvin Roth (in the last meeting). However, the relevance of the workshops goes beyond this. In each of the workshops, Marilda organized a School of Advanced Sciences in Game Theory. All of them lasted 8 days and, besides the lectures given by 30 prominent senior researchers, fellows of the Econometric Society, each included 7 mini-courses toughed by famous specialists. The list of teachers includes Nobel prizes Robert Aumann and Alvin Roth; Shmuel Zamir, editor of the International Journal of Game Theory and William Thomson, past-editor of that Journal; Myrna Wooders, editor of the Journal of Public Economic Theory; Steven Brams, past president of the Public Choice Society; Vijay Krishna, co-editor of the International Journal of Game Theory; Mattew Jackson (Stanford University), Paul Milgrom (Sanford Universiy), Hervé Moulin (Glasgow University), and Roberto Serrano (Brown Universiy).
The workshops increased the visibility of the University of São Paulo in the academic world and facilitate the dissemination of the Theory of Games among the Brazilian students and scholars. They provided a stimulating and intellectual environment, a unique opportunity in Brazil for interaction among young researchers from several countries with their Brazilian peers. In particular, every student presented a poster on his/her thesis project in a poster session with the massive participation of the senior researchers. For example, John Nash attended all the poster sessions and always addressed the expositors.
The areas of interest of Marilda are: Game Theory, Matching markets, and Market Design. Her research has been supported in part by grants from the CNPq, where she is researcher 1A, the highest category of researcher in CNPq.