EC 23 Tutorial

Beyond Buy-One in Approximately Optimal Multi-Item Auctions

Organizers: Rojin Rezvan (UT Austin) and Ariel Schvartzman (Google Research)

Date: week of June 20-23 (exact times TBA) 

Where: virtual - please register for access to live links. 

Abstract: Optimal multi-item auctions are known to be complex and hard to characterize. In fact, we know that no finite-sized mechanism can approximate the optimal mechanism when selling two items to a single, additive buyer. This pathological result constructs a valuation and distribution that can be exploited by a highly-tailored mechanism. One reason the revenue of this mechanism is unbounded is that it abuses the fact that the buyer can only interact with the mechanism once. Indeed, a series of recent works show how to get around this pathological construction via so-called buy-many or buy-k mechanisms, where the buyer is allowed to interact with the mechanism any number of times or k times, respectively. These new classes of mechanisms show that, perhaps, the benchmark set by the standard buy-one model is too strong to compare against and thus should be relaxed. 

Keywords: revenue maximization, multi-item mechanism design, buy-many mechanisms, correlated distributions.

Please note that the details below are subject to change due to time constraints and other restrictions. 


Target Audience and Goals

The target audience will be an average EC attendee with previous exposure/familiarity to multi-item auction design. The lectures will encompass all known work in the CS literature on the topic, thus enabling any interested researcher to contribute in state-of-the-art work This will include all key technical tools and lemmas, as well as a rich discussion about future directions. In particular, one exciting direction is that of using the buy-many benchmark for the case of independent items. The goal of this tutorial is to encourage other researchers to join this line of work. 


Relevant Literature and Full Proposal 

Please see the full proposal with the appropriate citations and references here