(Bloomberg View) -- Microeconomic theory gets little attention. The public usually only hears about macro, tax or labor economics -- the things that affect day-to-day life. But deep within the stygian recesses of academia, bright mathematical minds are working on the economics of the next century.

One of these is Yuliy Sannikov, a professor at Princeton. Known throughout his life as a mathematical genius, Sannikov recently won the John Bates Clark Medal, a notable award given each year to a prominent economist under the age of 40. In recent years, that award has been given mostly to empirical researchers, reflecting econ’s turn toward data-driven work. Sannikov is among the few who work with pure math and abstract concepts.

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