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  1. We consider the problem of allocating divisible items among multiple agents, and consider the setting where any agent is allowed to introduce {\emph diversity constraints} on the items they are allocated. We motivate this via settings where the items themselves correspond to user ad slots or task workers with attributes such as race and gender on which the principal seeks to achieve demographic parity. We consider the following question: When an agent expresses diversity constraints into an allocation rule, is the allocation of other agents hurt significantly? If this happens, the cost of introducing such constraints is disproportionately borne by agents who do not benefit from diversity. We codify this via two desiderata capturing {\em robustness}. These are {\emph no negative externality} -- other agents are not hurt -- and {\emph monotonicity} -- the agent enforcing the constraint does not see a large increase in value. We show in a formal sense that the Nash Welfare rule that maximizes product of agent values is {\emph uniquely} positioned to be robust when diversity constraints are introduced, while almost all other natural allocation rules fail this criterion. We also show that the guarantees achieved by Nash Welfare are nearly optimal within a widely studied class of allocation rules. We finally perform an empirical simulation on real-world data that models ad allocations to show that this gap between Nash Welfare and other rules persists in the wild. 
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  2. The study of complex networks is a significant development in modern science, and has enriched the social sciences, biology, physics, and computer science. Models and algorithms for such networks are pervasive in our society, and impact human behavior via social networks, search engines, and recommender systems, to name a few. A widely used algorithmic technique for modeling such complex networks is to construct a low-dimensional Euclidean embedding of the vertices of the network, where proximity of vertices is interpreted as the likelihood of an edge. Contrary to the common view, we argue that such graph embeddings do not capture salient properties of complex networks. The two properties we focus on are low degree and large clustering coefficients, which have been widely established to be empirically true for real-world networks. We mathematically prove that any embedding (that uses dot products to measure similarity) that can successfully create these two properties must have a rank that is nearly linear in the number of vertices. Among other implications, this establishes that popular embedding techniques such as singular value decomposition and node2vec fail to capture significant structural aspects of real-world complex networks. Furthermore, we empirically study a number of different embedding techniques based on dot product, and show that they all fail to capture the triangle structure.

     
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  3. We study the allocation of divisible goods to competing agents via a market mechanism, focusing on agents with Leontief utilities. The majority of the economics and mechanism design literature has focused on \emph{linear} prices, meaning that the cost of a good is proportional to the quantity purchased. Equilibria for linear prices are known to be exactly the maximum Nash welfare allocations. \emph{Price curves} allow the cost of a good to be any (increasing) function of the quantity purchased. We show that price curve equilibria are not limited to maximum Nash welfare allocations with two main results. First, we show that an allocation can be supported by strictly increasing price curves if and only if it is \emph{group-domination-free}. A similarly characterization holds for weakly increasing price curves. We use this to show that given any allocation, we can compute strictly (or weakly) increasing price curves that support it (or show that none exist) in polynomial time. These results involve a connection to the \emph{agent-order matrix} of an allocation, which may have other applications. Second, we use duality to show that in the bandwidth allocation setting, any allocation maximizing a CES welfare function can be supported by price curves. 
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  4. We study social choice mechanisms in an implicit utilitarian framework with a metric constraint, where the goal is to minimize Distortion, the worst case social cost of an ordinal mechanism relative to underlying cardinal utilities. We consider two additional desiderata: Constant sample complexity and Squared Distortion. Constant sample complexity means that the mechanism (potentially randomized) only uses a constant number of ordinal queries regardless of the number of voters and alternatives. Squared Distortion is a measure of variance of the Distortion of a randomized mechanism.Our primary contribution is the first social choice mechanism with constant sample complexity and constant Squared Distortion (which also implies constant Distortion). We call the mechanism Random Referee, because it uses a random agent to compare two alternatives that are the favorites of two other random agents. We prove that the use of a comparison query is necessary: no mechanism that only elicits the top-k preferred alternatives of voters (for constant k) can have Squared Distortion that is sublinear in the number of alternatives. We also prove that unlike any top-k only mechanism, the Distortion of Random Referee meaningfully improves on benign metric spaces, using the Euclidean plane as a canonical example. Finally, among top-1 only mechanisms, we introduce Random Oligarchy. The mechanism asks just 3 queries and is essentially optimal among the class of such mechanisms with respect to Distortion.In summary, we demonstrate the surprising power of constant sample complexity mechanisms generally, and just three random voters in particular, to provide some of the best known results in the implicit utilitarian framework. 
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  5. There has been much work on exhibiting mechanisms that implement various bargaining solutions, in particular, the Kalai-Smorodinsky solution \cite{moulin1984implementing} and the Nash Bargaining solution. Another well-known and axiomatically well-studied solution is the lexicographic maxmin solution. However, there is no mechanism known for its implementation. To fill this gap, we construct a mechanism that implements the lexicographic maxmin solution as the unique subgame perfect equilibrium outcome in the n-player setting. As is standard in the literature on implementation of bargaining solutions, we use the assumption that any player can grab the entire surplus. Our mechanism consists of a binary game tree, with each node corresponding to a subgame where the players are allowed to choose between two outcomes. We characterize novel combinatorial properties of the lexicographic maxmin solution which are crucial to the design of our mechanism. 
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  6. A public decision-making problem consists of a set of issues, each with multiple possible alternatives, and a set of competing agents, each with a preferred alternative for each issue. We study adaptations of market economies to this setting, focusing on binary issues. Issues have prices, and each agent is endowed with artificial currency that she can use to purchase probability for her preferred alternatives (we allow randomized outcomes). We first show that when each issue has a single price that is common to all agents, market equilibria can be arbitrarily bad. This negative result motivates a different approach. We present a novel technique called "pairwise issue expansion", which transforms any public decision-making instance into an equivalent Fisher market, the simplest type of private goods market. This is done by expanding each issue into many goods: one for each pair of agents who disagree on that issue. We show that the equilibrium prices in the constructed Fisher market yield a "pairwise pricing equilibrium" in the original public decision-making problem which maximizes Nash welfare. More broadly, pairwise issue expansion uncovers a powerful connection between the public decision-making and private goods settings; this immediately yields several interesting results about public decisions markets, and furthers the hope that we will be able to find a simple iterative voting protocol that leads to near-optimum decisions. 
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  7. Many societal decision problems lie in high-dimensional continuous spaces not amenable to the voting techniques common for their discrete or single-dimensional counterparts. These problems are typically discretized before running an election or decided upon through negotiation by representatives. We propose a algorithm called Iterative Local Voting for collective decision-making in this setting. In this algorithm, voters are sequentially sampled and asked to modify a candidate solution within some local neighborhood of its current value, as defined by a ball in some chosen norm, with the size of the ball shrinking at a specified rate.¬†We first prove the convergence of this algorithm under appropriate choices of neighborhoods to Pareto optimal solutions with desirable fairness properties in certain natural settings: when the voters' utilities can be expressed in terms of some form of distance from their ideal solution, and when these utilities are additively decomposable across dimensions. In many of these cases, we obtain convergence to the societal welfare maximizing solution.We then describe an experiment in which we test our algorithm for the decision of the U.S. Federal Budget on Mechanical Turk with over 2,000 workers, employing neighborhoods defined by various L-Norm balls. We make several observations that inform future implementations of such a procedure. 
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