Economists have developed a deep and rich theory for understanding the evolution and operation of markets, as well as a bounty of empirical methodologies and practical solutions pertaining to particular settings. Computer scientists have developed the powerful "algorithmic way of thinking," which has become a key enabler of the sciences in this century, just as mathematics was in the last. Sophisticated algorithms, such as the stable matching algorithm, maximum matching algorithms, and algorithms for budgeted auctions, have been applied to centralized labor markets, auctions, financial exchanges, the allocation of public goods, etc. However, in the past, this progress proceeded with limited direct interaction between economists and computer scientists.
In recent years, a vibrant IT ecosystem together with the en masse relocation of our most important activities to online platforms has given birth to enormously influential and innovative online market structures, including online retail markets, ad auctions, short-term housing markets such as Airbnb, online labor markets such as Uber and Upwork, markets for virtual currencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum, and markets for online dating such as OkCupid and Match.com. These new applications require a truly interdisciplinary approach to market design. New algorithms include the specification of information available to consumers and feedback across time in dynamic mechanisms, in addition to the rules governing the aggregation of users’ responses. These new components suggest a new strategic environment, where fairness, transparency, and welfare are clear objectives.
As these markets occupy a rapidly increasing fraction of our economy, the time is ripe for bringing together market-design scholars from economics and computer science under the same roof for an extended period of time to address these challenges. This six-week program was designed to accomplish precisely that.