Fall 2019

The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Artificial Currencies

Wednesday, September 18th, 2019 11:45 am12:30 pm

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Sid Banerjee (Cornell University)

In many settings, resources are allocated among agents over time without the use of monetary transfers: cloud resources among employees, food among food banks, vaccines among hospitals, etc. One way of doing this involves setting up a market based on artificial credits. In this talk, I will describe some of our work in understanding such mechanisms. In particular, I will discuss how such simple mechanisms enjoy surprisingly strong performance guarantees under minimal rationality assumptions. Our results also provide insights into how to set agent endowments, tradeoffs between different notions of utility and fairness, and the value of having priors about agent utilities. Moreover, they uncover interesting connections between artificial currency mechanisms, bargaining and fair allocation, and online decision-making.

Based on joint work with Artur Gorokh and Krishnamurthy Iyer.