November 10 – 15 , 2013, Dagstuhl Seminar 13461

Electronic Markets and Auctions


Yishay Mansour (Tel Aviv University, IL)
Benny Moldovanu (Universität Bonn, DE)
Noam Nisan (The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, IL)
Berthold Vöcking (RWTH Aachen, DE)

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The relatively young field of Algorithmic Game Theory sets a goal of providing a computational understanding of game theory models. The research in the field has many focal points, including exploring the quality of equilibria, computation of equilibria, algorithmic mechanism design, as well as analyzing computer science related games and gaining an economics perspective for many important optimization problems.

While it is still too early for the evaluation the long term contribution of Algorithmic Game Theory to the field of Economics, in general, and to Game Theory in particular, we would like to highlight some successful contributions. The efficient computational aspects are a clear contribution, and this is also coupled with the understanding that sub-optimal solutions can have various degrees of sub-optimality. By using approximation algorithms approaches traditional in Theoretical Computer Science, the sub-optimality can be quantify in a very rigorous and clear way. The study of concrete convergence rates, rather than convergence in the limit, has proved to be highly successful here, as well. Finally, the extensive study of discrete models, especially combinatorial auctions, has been an area where computer science has made significant contributions.

The economic field of Mechanism Design asks how to design mechanisms that will implement some desired social choice function under rational behavior of the participants. This field is at the forefront of economics research, and its goal is to gain a better understanding of designing mechanisms that considers the incentives of participant. This is in general viewed as part of market design, and micro-economics.

One of the central areas of Algorithmic Game Theory is Algorithmic Mechanism Design. This field is relevant to designing distributed computer systems, suggested that mechanism design should also consider the algorithmic issues involved beyond the strategic ones commonly studied in economics. The seminar concentrated on Algorithmic Game Theory, with an emphasis on the sub-field of Algorithmic Mechanism Design.

The central application of Mechanism Design is the implementation of auctions and markets, and similarly the central application of algorithmic mechanism design is the implementation of complex computerized auctions and markets. As markets and auctions are increasingly implemented over computer networks, and as they are getting more sophisticated, much theoretical research has gone into the design of complex auctions and markets. Issues that need to be treated include computational ones, strategic ones, and communication ones. A central application is, so called, combinatorial auctions, which aim to concurrently sell many related items.

This seminar had researchers discussing basic research questions that lie behind the growing challenges in electronic markets and auctions. The seminar took a broad view of these challenges, focusing on foundational issues, taking a wide perspective, from the high-level issues of Algorithmic Game Theory through the Algorithmic Mechanism Design aspects, to basic challenges of electronic markets and auction.

Summary text license
  Creative Commons BY 3.0 Unported license
  Yishay Mansour, Benny Moldovanu, Noam Nisan, and Berthold Vöcking


  • Data Structures / Algorithms / Complexity


  • Algorithmic game theory
  • Mechanism design
  • Economics
  • Electronic markets


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