Alvin Roth and Lloyd Shapley have won the 2012 Nobel prize for economics for research on how to match different economic agents such as students for schools or even organ donors with patients.
The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, which made the award to the American economists, said the 8m krona (£750,000) prize recognised "the theory of stable allocations and the practice of market design".
Mr Shapley has used game theory to study and compare various matching methods and how to make sure the matches were acceptable to all counterparts, including the creation of a special algorithm.
Mr Roth followed up on Mr Shapley's results in a series of empirical studies and helped redesign existing institutions so that new doctors could be matched with hospitals, students with schools or patients with organ donors.
"This year's prize is awarded for an outstanding example of economic engineering," the committee added.
Mr Roth described the win as "unimaginable".
"I certainly expected that Lloyd should win the prize," he said, and added that it would have been a “grave oversight” if Mr Shapley wasn't recognised for his work in the field.
The economics prize, officially called the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel, was established in 1968. It was not part of the original group of awards set out in dynamite tycoon Nobel's 1895 will.