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Revenue Redistribution Mechanisms

Speaker: Dr. Ruggiero Cavallo
Microsoft Research, New York City

February 05, 2013 - 4:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Location: CII (Low) 3051
Hosted By: Dr. Elliot Anshelevich (x6491)


Mechanism design is the study of how to engineer incentives that achieve socially desirable equilibrium outcomes in multi-agent systems with self-interest and private information. The mechanism design toolset mainly consists of the imposition of monetary payments, as in auctions for resource allocation. These payments are often large: classic auctions yield high revenue to the auctioneer, a transfer of utility that---from the agents' perspective---is welfare-diminishing and is to be avoided if possible. In this talk I'll describe how the revenue of incentive mechanisms such as the Vickrey auction can be redistributed back to the agents, improving social welfare without distorting incentives. This approach has important implications for problems in e-commerce, fair division of goods, and optimal control of selfish multi-armed bandits.

I'll touch on each of these applications and describe in detail how revenue redistribution can be critical to attracting the optimal number of participants in an auction when bidding is costly.


Ruggiero Cavallo is an Associate Researcher at Microsoft Research in New York City. He received his bachelor's degree from Cornell (2001) and Ph.D. from Harvard (2008), both in computer science. His main research is in mechanism design theory, electronic commerce, multi-agent systems, and other areas at the intersection of computer science and economics. A native of central New York, Giro currently lives in Brooklyn with his wife and baby daughter.

Last updated: January 28, 2013