Optimizing the Effort of Others

From Algorithmic Contracts to Strategic Classification

A TheoryFest Workshop at STOC'22 - Rome, Italy, June 20-22, 2022


A central planner often relies on others to act or exert effort on their behalf. An employer assigns tasks to contracted employees; a teacher designs a course's grading policy to encourage students to study. The planner can try to encourage good behavior and effort with rewards, but the actions themselves often aren't directly visible --- only the (possibly random) outcomes.

The economics and computation literature has come at this problem from different angles. The theory of optimal contracts and scoring applies when the agents are being paid for their effort. The theory of strategic classification and delegation applies when the agents' efforts are used to make decisions they care about. Whether agents are being rewarded with or without money, algorithmic and complexity challenges abound: how should the optimal incentive or evaluation structure be designed, and how close can we get to the best possible solution?

Workshop Overview

This workshop will take place over three half-days. The first day will consist of tutorials describing recent developments in optimal contract design and incentivizing effort without money. On the second and third days we will have a series of invited talk sessions, focusing on recent work in different aspects of this new space of problems. There will be a heavy emphasis on drawing connections between different problem formulations --- with and without money --- and with the broader TCS community.

Update: The workshop has concluded. Thank you to all participants! All tutorials and talks were recorded; see the program schedule for links to the recordings and slides.

Related Event: We recommend that you check out our "sister" workshop at EC'22: Algorithmic Contract Design: Present and Future.

Program Schedule

The schedule is listed in local time (Central European Time)

Workshop Location: Room San Francesco, Auditorium Antonianum

Monday June 20

9:00am - 10:15am Tutorial: Algorithmic Contract Theory (Paul Duetting, Inbal Talgam-Cohen) - Slides (Part 1, Part 2), Video

10:15am - 10:45am Coffee Break

10:45am - 12:00pm Tutorial: Do we incentivize honest effort or gaming in incentive-aware learning? (Chara Podimata) - Slides, Video

Tuesday June 21

9:00am - 9:35am Jason Hartline - Mechanism Design for the Classroom (Optimization of Scoring Rules) - Slides, Video

9:35am - 10:10am Yifan Wu - Optimal Scoring Rules for Multi-dimensional Effort - Slides, Video

10:15am - 10:45am Coffee Break

10:45am - 11:20am Itai Ashlagi - Simple and Approximately Optimal Contracts for Payment for Ecosystem Services - Slides, Video

11:20am - 11:55am Bo Waggoner - Contracts with Information Acquisition, via Scoring Rules - Slides, Video

Wednesday June 22

9:00am - 9:35am Jon Schneider - Contracts with Types: Moral Hazard meets Adverse Selection - Slides, Video

9:35am - 10:10am Tomer Ezra - Combinatorial Contracts - Slides, Video

10:15am - 10:45am Coffee Break

10:45am - 11:20am Shaddin Dughmi - Delegated probing in stochastic combinatorial optimization - Slides, Video

11:20am - 11:55am Sam Taggart - Simple Delegated Choice - Slides, Video


Michal Feldman (Tel Aviv University)

Brendan Lucier (Microsoft Research)