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  1. Bilateral trade is one of the most natural and important forms of economic interaction: A seller has a single, indivisible item for sale, and a buyer is potentially interested. The two parties typically have different, privately known valuations for the item, and ideally, they would like to trade if the buyer values the item more than the seller. The celebrated impossibility result by Myerson and Satterthwaite shows that any mechanism for this setting must violate at least one important desideratum. In this paper, we investigate a richer paradigm of bilateral trade, with many self-interested buyers and sellers on both sides of a single trade who cannot be excluded from the trade. We show that this allows for more positive results. In fact, we establish a dichotomy in the possibility of trading efficiently. If in expectation, the buyers value the item more, we can achieve efficiency in the limit. If this is not the case, then efficiency cannot be achieved in general. En route, we characterize trading mechanisms that encourage truth-telling, which may be of independent interest. We also evaluate our trading mechanisms experimentally, and the experiments align with our theoretical results.

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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available March 25, 2025
  2. We study equilibrium computation with extensive-form correlation in two-player turn-taking stochastic games. Our main results are two-fold: (1) We give an algorithm for computing a Stackelberg extensive-form correlated equilibrium (SEFCE), which runs in time polynomial in the size of the game, as well as the number of bits required to encode each input number. (2) We give an efficient algorithm for approximately computing an optimal extensive-form correlated equilibrium (EFCE) up to machine precision, i.e., the algorithm achieves approximation error 𝜀 in time polynomial in the size of the game, as well as log(1/𝜀). Our algorithm for SEFCE is the first polynomial-time algorithm for equilibrium computation with com- mitment in such a general class of stochastic games. Existing algorithms for SEFCE typically make stronger assumptions such as no chance moves, and are designed for extensive-form games in the less succinct tree form. Our algorithm for approximately optimal EFCE is, to our knowledge, the first algorithm that achieves 3 desiderata simultaneously: approximate optimality, polylogarithmic dependency on the approximation error, and compatibility with stochastic games in the more succinct graph form. Existing algorithms achieve at most 2 of these desiderata, often also relying on additional technical assumptions. 
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  3. Abstract

    A set of players delegate playing a game to a set of representatives, one for each player. We imagine that each player trusts their respective representative’s strategic abilities. Thus, we might imagine that per default, the original players would simply instruct the representatives to play the original game as best as they can. In this paper, we ask: are there safe Pareto improvements on this default way of giving instructions? That is, we imagine that the original players can coordinate to tell their representatives to only consider some subset of the available strategies and to assign utilities to outcomes differently than the original players. Then can the original players do this in such a way that the payoff is guaranteed to be weakly higher than under the default instructions for all the original players? In particular, can they Pareto-improve without probabilistic assumptions about how the representatives play games? In this paper, we give some examples of safe Pareto improvements. We prove that the notion of safe Pareto improvements is closely related to a notion of outcome correspondence between games. We also show that under some specific assumptions about how the representatives play games, finding safe Pareto improvements is NP-complete.

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  4. Mature internet advertising platforms offer high-level campaign management tools to help advertisers run their campaigns, often abstracting away the intricacies of how each ad is placed and focusing on aggregate metrics of interest to advertisers. On such platforms, advertisers often participate in auctions through a proxy bidder, so the standard incentive analyses that are common in the literature do not apply directly. In this paper, we take the perspective of a budget management system that surfaces aggregated incentives—instead of individual auctions—and compare first and second price auctions. We show that theory offers surprising endorsement for using a first price auction to sell individual impressions. In particular, first price auctions guarantee uniqueness of the steady-state equilibrium of the budget management system, monotonicity, and other desirable properties, as well as efficient computation through the solution to the well-studied Eisenberg–Gale convex program. Contrary to what one can expect from first price auctions, we show that incentives issues are not a barrier that undermines the system. Using realistic instances generated from data collected at real-world auction platforms, we show that bidders have small regret with respect to their optimal ex post strategy, and they do not have a big incentive to misreport when they can influence equilibria directly by giving inputs strategically. Finally, budget-constrained bidders, who have significant prevalence in real-world platforms, tend to have smaller regrets. Our computations indicate that bidder budgets, pacing multipliers, and regrets all have a positive association in statistical terms. This paper was accepted by Gabriel Weintraub, revenue management and market analytics. Funding: D. Panigrahi was supported in part by the National Science Foundation [Awards CCF 1535972, CCF 1750140, and CCF 1955703]. Supplemental Material: The data files are available at . 
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  5. Pennock, David M. ; Segal, Ilya ; Seuken, Sven (Ed.)
    We consider the problem of planning with participation constraints introduced in [24]. In this problem, a principal chooses actions in a Markov decision process, resulting in separate utilities for the principal and the agent. However, the agent can and will choose to end the process whenever his expected onward utility becomes negative. The principal seeks to compute and commit to a policy that maximizes her expected utility, under the constraint that the agent should always want to continue participating. We provide the first polynomial-time exact algorithm for this problem for finite-horizon settings, where previously only an additive ε-approximation algorithm was known. Our approach can also be extended to the (discounted) infinite-horizon case, for which we give an algorithm that runs in time polynomial in the size of the input and log(1/ε), and returns a policy that is optimal up to an additive error of ε. 
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  6. We pose and study the problem of planning in Markov decision processes (MDPs), subject to participation constraints as studied in mechanism design. In this problem, a planner must work with a self-interested agent on a given MDP. Each action in the MDP provides an immediate reward to the planner and a (possibly different) reward to the agent. The agent has no control in choosing the actions, but has the option to end the entire process at any time. The goal of the planner is to find a policy that maximizes her cumulative reward, taking into consideration the agent's ability to terminate. We give a fully polynomial-time approximation scheme for this problem. En route, we present polynomial-time algorithms for computing (exact) optimal policies for important special cases of this problem, including when the time horizon is constant, or when the MDP exhibits a "definitive decisions" property. We illustrate our algorithms with two different game-theoretic applications: the problem of assigning rides in ride-sharing and the problem of designing screening policies. Our results imply efficient algorithms for computing (approximately) optimal policies in both applications. 
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