26 March 2008
Harvard University
David Parkes

In this talk, I will introduce the area of computational mechanism design (CMD), which seeks to understand how to design games to induce desirable outcomes in multi-agent systems despite private information, self-interest and limited computational resources. CMD finds application in many settings, from allocating wireless spectrum and airport landing slots, to internet advertising, to expressive sourcing in the supply chain, to allocating shared computational resources. In meeting the demands for CMD in these rich domains, we need to bridge from the classic theory of economic mechanism design to the practice of deployable, scalable mechanisms. I will first provide a brief overview of the theory of economic mechanism design, and explain the idea of strategyproof mechanisms. In moving to CMD, I will highlight my contributions to the design of dynamic coordination mechanisms, relevant in settings with agent arrivals and departures and also with agents that face dynamic local problems. The family of Groves mechanisms can be usefully generalized to these domains, albeit with an interesting change in the solution concept, and coupled with sample-based planning algorithms. This opens up a new frontier of applications-- and challenges --for CMD. I also outline a complementary direction in

Institution department: 
School of Engineering and Applied Sciences