Mechanism Design via Optimal Transport
Author(s)Daskalakis, Konstantinos; Deckelbaum, Alan; Tzamos, Christos
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Optimal mechanisms have been provided in quite general multi-item settings [Cai et al. 2012b, as long as each bidder's type distribution is given explicitly by listing every type in the support along with its associated probability. In the implicit setting, e.g. when the bidders have additive valuations with independent and/or continuous values for the items, these results do not apply, and it was recently shown that exact revenue optimization is intractable, even when there is only one bidder [Daskalakis et al. 2013]. Even for item distributions with special structure, optimal mechanisms have been surprisingly rare [Manelli and Vincent 2006] and the problem is challenging even in the two-item case [Hart and Nisan 2012]. In this paper, we provide a framework for designing optimal mechanisms using optimal transport theory and duality theory. We instantiate our framework to obtain conditions under which only pricing the grand bundle is optimal in multi-item settings (complementing the work of [Manelli and Vincent 2006]), as well as to characterize optimal two-item mechanisms. We use our results to derive closed-form descriptions of the optimal mechanism in several two-item settings, exhibiting also a setting where a continuum of lotteries is necessary for revenue optimization but a closed-form representation of the mechanism can still be found efficiently using our framework.
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science; Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Mathematics
Proceedings of the Fourteenth ACM Conference on Electronic Commerce
Association for Computing Machinery (ACM)
Constantinos Daskalakis, Alan Deckelbaum, and Christos Tzamos. 2013. Mechanism design via optimal transport. In Proceedings of the fourteenth ACM conference on Electronic commerce (EC '13). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 269-286.