Nikhil Devanur (Microsoft Research)
Calvin Lab Room 116
Sample Complexity of Auctions with Side Information
Traditionally, the Bayesian optimal auction design problem has been considered either when the bidder values are i.i.d., or when each bidder is individually identifiable via her value distribution. The latter is a reasonable approach when the bidders can be classified into a few categories, but there are many instances where the classification of bidders is a continuum. For example, the classification of the bidders may be based on their annual income, their propensity to buy an item based on past behavior, or in the case of ad auctions, the click through rate of their ads. In this talk I will introduce an alternate model that captures this aspect, where bidders are a priori identical, but can be distinguished based (only) on some side information the auctioneer obtains at the time of the auction.
We extend the sample complexity approach of Dhangwotnotai, Roughgarden and Yan  and Cole and Roughgarden  to this model and obtain almost matching upper and lower bounds. As an aside, we obtain a revenue monotonicity lemma which may be of independent interest. I will also show how to use Empirical Risk Minimization techniques to improve the sample complexity bound of Cole and Roughgarden  for the non-identical but independent value distribution case.
Joint work with Zhiyi Huang and Alex Psomas.