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269
Algorithmic mechanism design
 Games and Economic Behavior
, 1999
"... We consider algorithmic problems in a distributed setting where the participants cannot be assumed to follow the algorithm but rather their own selfinterest. As such participants, termed agents, are capable of manipulating the algorithm, the algorithm designer should ensure in advance that the agen ..."
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Cited by 577 (20 self)
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We consider algorithmic problems in a distributed setting where the participants cannot be assumed to follow the algorithm but rather their own selfinterest. As such participants, termed agents, are capable of manipulating the algorithm, the algorithm designer should ensure in advance that the agents ’ interests are best served by behaving correctly. Following notions from the field of mechanism design, we suggest a framework for studying such algorithms. Our main technical contribution concerns the study of a representative task scheduling problem for which the standard mechanism design tools do not suffice. Journal of Economic Literature
Reasoning the fast and frugal way: Models of bounded rationality
 Psychological Review
, 1996
"... Humans and animals make inferences about the world under limited time and knowledge. In contrast, many models of rational inference treat the mind as a Laplacean Demon, equipped with unlimited time, knowledge, and computational might. Following H. Simon’s notion of satisficing, the authors have prop ..."
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Cited by 419 (22 self)
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Humans and animals make inferences about the world under limited time and knowledge. In contrast, many models of rational inference treat the mind as a Laplacean Demon, equipped with unlimited time, knowledge, and computational might. Following H. Simon’s notion of satisficing, the authors have proposed a family of algorithms based on a simple psychological mechanism: one reason decision making. These fast and frugal algorithms violate fundamental tenets of classical rationality: They neither look up nor integrate all information. By computer simulation, the authors held a competition between the satisficing “Take The Best ” algorithm and various “rational ” inference procedures (e.g., multiple regression). The Take The Best algorithm matched or outperformed all competitors in inferential speed and accuracy. This result is an existence proof that cognitive mechanisms capable of successful performance in the real world do not need to satisfy the classical norms of rational inference. Organisms make inductive inferences. Darwin (1872/1965) observed that people use facial cues, such as eyes that waver and lids that hang low, to infer a person’s guilt. Male toads, roaming through swamps at night, use the pitch of a rival’s croak to infer its size when deciding whether to fight (Krebs & Davies, 1987). Stock brokers must make fast decisions about which of several stocks to trade or invest when only limited information is available. The list goes on. Inductive
Bidding and Allocation in Combinatorial Auctions
 In ACM Conference on Electronic Commerce
, 2000
"... When an auction of multiple items is performed, it is often desirable to allow bids on combinations of items, as opposed to only on single items. Such an auction is often called "combinatorial ", and the exponential number of possible combinations results in computational intractability ..."
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Cited by 262 (11 self)
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When an auction of multiple items is performed, it is often desirable to allow bids on combinations of items, as opposed to only on single items. Such an auction is often called "combinatorial ", and the exponential number of possible combinations results in computational intractability of many aspects regarding such an auction. This paper considers two of these aspects: the bidding language and the allocation algorithm. First we consider which kinds of bids on combinations are allowed and how, i.e. in what language, they are specified. The basic tradeoff is the expressibility of the language versus its simplicity. We consider and formalize several bidding languages and compare their strengths. We prove exponential separations between the expressive power of different languages, and show that one language, "ORbids with phantom items", can polynomially simulate the others. We then consider the problem of determining the best allocation  a problem known to be computationally intractable. We suggest an approach based on Linear Programming (LP) and motivate it. We prove that the LP approach finds an optimal allocation if and only if prices can be attached to single items in the auction. We pinpoint several classes of auctions where this is the case, and suggest greedy and branchandbound heuristics based on LP for other cases. 1
Computationally feasible VCG mechanisms
 In Proceedings of the Second ACM Conference on Electronic Commerce (EC’00
, 2000
"... A major achievement of mechanism design theory is a general method for the construction of truthful mechanisms called VCG. When applying this method to complex problems such as combinatorial auctions, a difficulty arises: VCG mechanisms are required to compute optimal outcomes and are therefore comp ..."
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Cited by 192 (5 self)
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A major achievement of mechanism design theory is a general method for the construction of truthful mechanisms called VCG. When applying this method to complex problems such as combinatorial auctions, a difficulty arises: VCG mechanisms are required to compute optimal outcomes and are therefore computationally infeasible. However, if the optimal outcome is replaced by the results of a suboptimal algorithm, the resulting mechanism (termed VCGbased) is no longer necessarily truthful. The first part of this paper studies this phenomenon in depth and shows that it is near universal. Specifically, we prove that essentially all reasonable approximations or heuristics for combinatorial auctions as well as a wide class of cost minimization problems yield nontruthful VCGbased mechanisms. We generalize these results for affine maximizers. The second part of this paper proposes a general method for circumventing the above problem. We introduce a modification of VCGbased mechanisms in which the agents are given a chance to improve the output of the underlying algorithm. When the agents behave truthfully, the welfare obtained by the mechanism is at least as good as the one obtained by the algorithm’s output. We provide a strong rationale for truthtelling behavior. Our method satisfies individual rationality as well.
Truthful Mechanisms for OneParameter Agents
"... In this paper, we show how to design truthful (dominant strategy) mechanisms for several combinatorial problems where each agent’s secret data is naturally expressed by a single positive real number. The goal of the mechanisms we consider is to allocate loads placed on the agents, and an agent’s sec ..."
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Cited by 192 (4 self)
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In this paper, we show how to design truthful (dominant strategy) mechanisms for several combinatorial problems where each agent’s secret data is naturally expressed by a single positive real number. The goal of the mechanisms we consider is to allocate loads placed on the agents, and an agent’s secret data is the cost she incurs per unit load. We give an exact characterization for the algorithms that can be used to design truthful mechanisms for such load balancing problems using appropriate side payments. We use our characterization to design polynomial time truthful mechanisms for several problems in combinatorial optimization to which the celebrated VCG mechanism does not apply. For scheduling related parallel machines (QjjCmax), we give a 3approximation mechanism based on randomized rounding of the optimal fractional solution. This problem is NPcomplete, and the standard approximation algorithms (greedy loadbalancing or the PTAS) cannot be used in truthful mechanisms. We show our mechanism to be frugal, in that the total payment needed is only a logarithmic factor more than the actual costs incurred by the machines, unless one machine dominates the total processing power. We also give truthful mechanisms for maximum flow, Qjj P Cj (scheduling related machines to minimize the sum of completion times), optimizing an affine function over a fixed set, and special cases of uncapacitated facility location. In addition, for Qjj P wjCj (minimizing the weighted sum of completion times), we prove a lower bound of 2 p 3 for the best approximation ratio achievable by a truthful mechanism.
Frugal path mechanisms
, 2002
"... We consider the problem of selecting a low cost s − t path in a graph, where the edge costs are a secret known only to the various economic agents who own them. To solve this problem, Nisan and Ronen applied the celebrated VickreyClarkeGroves (VCG) mechanism, which pays a premium to induce the edg ..."
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Cited by 111 (2 self)
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We consider the problem of selecting a low cost s − t path in a graph, where the edge costs are a secret known only to the various economic agents who own them. To solve this problem, Nisan and Ronen applied the celebrated VickreyClarkeGroves (VCG) mechanism, which pays a premium to induce the edges to reveal their costs truthfully. We observe that this premium can be unacceptably high. There are simple instances where the mechanism pays Θ(k) times the actual cost of the path, even if there is an alternate path available that costs only (1 + ɛ) times as much. This inspires the frugal path problem, which is to design a mechanism that selects a path and induces truthful cost revelation without paying such a high premium. This paper contributes negative results on the frugal path problem. On two large classes of graphs, including ones having three nodedisjoint s − t paths, we prove that no reasonable mechanism can always avoid paying a high premium to induce truthtelling. In particular, we introduce a general class of min function mechanisms, and show that all min function mechanisms can be forced to overpay just as badly as VCG. On the other hand, we prove that (on two large classes of graphs) every truthful mechanism satisfying some reasonable properties is a min function mechanism. 1
General Equilibrium Analysis of the EatonKortum Model.” NBER Working paper #11764
, 2005
"... helpful discussions. We thank the editor and several referees for close reading and useful criticism. Constantino Hevia, Natalia Kovrijnykh, and Oleksiy Kryvtsov provided many suggestions and able assistance. We study a variation of the EatonKortum model, a competitive, constantreturnstoscale mul ..."
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Cited by 98 (2 self)
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helpful discussions. We thank the editor and several referees for close reading and useful criticism. Constantino Hevia, Natalia Kovrijnykh, and Oleksiy Kryvtsov provided many suggestions and able assistance. We study a variation of the EatonKortum model, a competitive, constantreturnstoscale multicountry Ricardian model of trade. We establish existence and uniqueness of an equilibrium with balanced trade where each country imposes an import tariff. We analyze the determinants of the crosscountry distribution of trade volumes, such as size, tariffs and distance, and compare a calibrated version of the model with data for the largest 60 economies. We use the calibrated model to estimate the gains of a worldwide trade elimination of tariffs, using the theory to explain the magnitude of the gains as well as the differential effect arising from crosscountry differences in preliberalization of tariffs levels and country size.
Vickrey Prices and Shortest Paths: What is an edge worth?
 In Proceedings of the 42nd Symposium on the Foundations of Computer Science, IEEE Computer Society Press, Los Alamitos
, 2001
"... We solve a shortest path problem that is motivated by recent interest in pricing networks or other computational resources. Informally, how much is an edge in a network worth to a user who wants to send data between two nodes along a shortest path? If the network is a decentralized entity, such as t ..."
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Cited by 93 (5 self)
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We solve a shortest path problem that is motivated by recent interest in pricing networks or other computational resources. Informally, how much is an edge in a network worth to a user who wants to send data between two nodes along a shortest path? If the network is a decentralized entity, such as the Internet, in which multiple selfinterested agents own different parts of the network, then auctionbased pricing seems appropriate. A celebrated result from auction theory shows that the use of Vickrey pricing motivates the owners of the network resources to bid truthfully. In Vickrey's scheme, each agent is compensated in proportion to the marginal utility he brings to the auction. In the context of shortest path routing, an edge's utility is the value by which it lowers the length of the shortest paththe difference between the shortest path lengths with and without the edge. Our problem is to compute these marginal values for all the edges of the network efficiently. The na ve method requires solving the singlesource shortest path problem up to n times, for an nnode network. We show that the Vickrey prices for all the edges can be computed in the same asymptotic time complexity as one singlesource shortest path problem. This solves an open problem posed by Nisan and Ronen [12]. 1.
Competitive Generalized Auctions
, 2002
"... We describe mechanisms for auctions that are simultaneously truthful (alternately known as strategyproof or incentivecompatible) and guarantee high "net" profit. We make use of appropriate variants of competitive analysis of algorithms in designing and analyzing our mechanisms. Thus, we ..."
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Cited by 90 (20 self)
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We describe mechanisms for auctions that are simultaneously truthful (alternately known as strategyproof or incentivecompatible) and guarantee high "net" profit. We make use of appropriate variants of competitive analysis of algorithms in designing and analyzing our mechanisms. Thus, we do not require any probabilistic assumptions on bids. We present
Truthful randomized mechanisms for combinatorial auctions
 IN STOC
, 2006
"... We design two computationallyefficient incentivecompatible mechanisms for combinatorial auctions with general bidder preferences. Both mechanisms are randomized, and are incentivecompatible in the universal sense. This is in contrast to recent previous work that only addresses the weaker notion o ..."
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Cited by 83 (15 self)
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We design two computationallyefficient incentivecompatible mechanisms for combinatorial auctions with general bidder preferences. Both mechanisms are randomized, and are incentivecompatible in the universal sense. This is in contrast to recent previous work that only addresses the weaker notion of incentive compatibility in expectation. The first mechanism obtains an O(pm)approximation of the optimal social welfare for arbitrary bidder valuations  this is the best approximation possible in polynomial time. The second one obtains an O(log2 m) approximation for a subclass of bidder valuations that includes all submodular bidders. This improves over the best previously obtained incentivecompatible mechanism for this class which only provides an O(pm)approximation.