Efficiency of scalar-parameterized mechanisms
Author(s)Johari, Ramesh; Tsitsiklis, John N.
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We consider the problem of allocating a fixed amount of an infinitely divisible resource among multiple competing, fully rational users. We study the efficiency guarantees that are possible when we restrict to mechanisms that satisfy certain scalability constraints motivated by large scale communication networks; in particular, we restrict attention to mechanisms where users are restricted to one-dimensional strategy spaces. We first study the efficiency guarantees possible when the mechanism is not allowed to price differen- tiate. We study the worst-case efficiency loss (ratio of the utility associated with a Nash equilibrium to the maximum possible utility), and show that the proportional allocation mechanism of Kelly (1997) minimizes the efficiency loss when users are price anticipating. We then turn our attention to mechanisms where price differentiation is permitted; using an adaptation of the Vickrey-Clarke-Groves class of mechanisms, we con- struct a class of mechanisms with one-dimensional strategy spaces where Nash equilibria are fully efficient. These mechanisms are shown to be fully efficient even in general convex environments, under reasonable assumptions. Our results highlight a fundamental insight in mechanism design: when the pricing flexibility available to the mechanism designer is limited, restricting the strategic flexibility of bidders may actually improve the efficiency guarantee.
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science; Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Laboratory for Information and Decision Systems
Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences
Johari, Ramesh, and John N. Tsitsiklis. “Efficiency of Scalar-Parameterized Mechanisms.” Operations Research 57.4 (2009): 823-839.
Author's final manuscript