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[Colloquium] Economics, Algorithms, and the Internet

February 6, 2007

  • Date: Tuesday, February 6th, 2007 
  • Time: 11 am — 12:15 pm 
  • Place: ECE 118

Jason Hartline
Microsoft Research

Abstract: The Internet has emerged the single most important platform for resource sharing among parties with diverse and selfish interests and is the most interesting economics system of our time. As rapidly as new Internet systems are developed and deployed, Internet users find ways to exploit them for their own benefit in ways not intended by the designers. Prevalent undesirable examples of this phenomenon include spam in email systems, bid-sniping in eBay’s auction marketplace, free-loading in file-sharing networks, and click-fraud in Internet advertising. The existence of these economic bugs brings to fore the urgent problem of developing a principled approach to designing systems where exploits are not economically viable. This is the general question addressed by the research area of algorithmic mechanism design.

Techniques from algorithms are very well suited for addressing both new and traditional economic questions. I will discuss the impact of four algorithmic techniques: computation, approximation, competitive analysis, and reduction. I will focus on their application to the economic objective of profit maximization.

Bio: Jason has been a researcher at Microsoft Research, Silicon Valley since 2004. Prior to that he was a postdoctoral research fellow at the Aladdin Center at Carnegie Mellon University. He received his Ph.D. in Computer Science from the University of Washington in 2003 with advisor Anna Karlin and B.Ss in Computer Science and Electrical Engineering from Cornell University in 1997. He has been working on topics in algorithmic mechanism design since 1999.

Note: At Jason Hartline's request, this video is not available via the web, but rather is available as a DVD that can be checked out from Support in room 307