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Expressiveness in Mechanisms and its Relation to Efficiency: Our Experience from $40 Billion of Combinatorial Multi-attribute Auctions, and Recent Theory

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journal contribution
posted on 01.09.2003, 00:00 by Tuomas W Sandholm

A recent trend (especially in electronic commerce) is higher levels of expressiveness in the mechanisms that mediate interactions such as auctions, exchanges, catalog offers, voting systems, matching of peers, and so on. Participants can express their preferences in drastically greater detail than ever before. In many cases this trend is fueled by modern algorithms for winner determination that can handle the richer inputs.

But is more expressiveness always a good thing? What forms of expressiveness should be offered?

In this talk I will first report on our experience from over $40 billion of combinatorial multi-attribute sourcing auctions. Then, I will present recent theory that ties the expressiveness of a mechanism to an upper bound on efficiency in a domain-independent way in private-information settings. Time permitting, I will also discuss theory and experiments on applying expressiveness to ad auctions, such as sponsored search and real-time banner ad auctions with temporal span and complex preferences.




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