What is a blog called “Algorithmic Game Theory” attempting to cover? It seems that there is some rather ill-defined reserach area that now goes under this name, but also under various other names.
As the Internet was growing around the mid-to-late 1990′s, several threads of research emerged that somehow connected three key elements: Computer Science, Economics & Game-Theory, and the Internet. Within the networking community, several researchers started worrying about the non-cooperative nature of the Internet, and started considering the issue of incentives. Within the AI community, the coordination between multiple software “agents” became an area of study. Electronic commerce started flourishing, and the underlying basic questions started emerging. A few economists started studying Internet-related economic questions. Around the late 1990′s the different groups of people with these different motivations started talking to each other, and a joint field started emerging.
There was never a clear name for this emerging field. The first conference (that I know) that started connecting these people was called “Information and Computation Economies” empasizing the computation-economics interplay (the conference web page is no longer available on the web — the link here is to the wayback machine copy). ACM opened up a SIG (special interest group) under the name of Electronic Commerce, empasizing the application, with a confernce series under that name. The Multiagent angle was emphasized by AI-leaning conferences, a workshop taking the name Internet and Network Economies was later started, and other names for closely related — yet not just the same — fields were used. My own choice when teaching courses on this topic was either the un-committed Topics on the border of CS and economics or Foundations of electronic commerce (where “foundations” was meant to imply that we won’t be doing anything too practical). Christos Papadimitriou at Berkeley called his course Algorithmic aspects of game theory, while Tuomas Sandholm at CMU used Foundations of electronic marketplaces (wayback machine, again).
When Eva Tardos, Vijay Vazirani, Tim Roughgarden and myself were editing our book on Algorithmic game theory we knew that we wanted to cover this general area (from a somewhat focused perspective due to our theoretical-CS background), but we were not really sure what to call it — neither the book nor the area. Christos had a strong opinion what the field should be called Algorithmic Game Theory, so we decided to stick with that for our book as well. While the name itself is somewhat imprecise (I personally am missing “Internet”, “Markets”, and “Computation” in the name, but you can’t have it all in a snappy name), it seems that Christos’s naming for the field is sticking, so I’m going with it.