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Prize Announcements

John Nash will receive the 2015 Abel Prize (the most prestigious prize in mathematics besides the Fields Medal). The Norwegian Academy of Sciences and Letters is awarding the prize not for Nash’s work on game theory, but for his (and Louis Nirenberg’s) “striking and seminal contributions to the theory of nonlinear partial differential equations and its applications to geometric analysis”. Nash is the first person to win the Nobel Prize and the Abel Prize.

Coincidentally, it has been announced that former Turing’s Invisible Hand blogger Ariel Procaccia will receive the IJCAI-2015 Computers and Thought Award. Ariel is “recognized for his contributions to the fields of computational social choice and computational economics, and for efforts to make advanced fair division techniques more widely accessible”. Congratulations!

Last fall I posted an announcement about the Reverse AGT Workshop series and its first event on the topic of Optimal Taxation. Three economists, Benjamin Lockwood (Harvard Business School), Stefanie Stantcheva (Harvard Economics), and Glen Weyl (Microsoft Research), spoke about their work on optimal taxation in presentations targeted to an AGT audience. Each talk was thirty minutes and followed by fifteen minutes of discussion. It was fantastic! Since the workshop a reading group organized to dig deeper into key papers in the optimal taxation literature. For example, the reading group spend three weeks on an excellent survey by Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez, Optimal Labor Income Taxation from the Handbook of Public Economics.

Next week the second Reverse AGT workshop on the topic of competition in selection markets will be held at Harvard U. This workshop series is now cosponsored by Harvard’s Center for Research on Computation and Society and Microsoft Research. The event will be videotaped and talks will be made available on the series website. A summary is below with full details on the workshop website.

Reverse AGT Workshop on Competition in Selection Markets
http://crcs.seas.harvard.edu/reverse-agt-workshops
Maxwell Dworkin 119, Harvard U.
2-5pm, Friday, February 27, 2015.

Summary:
In many markets, especially for insurance and financial products, the value of a sale depends on the identity of the customer, as this determines the chance of their, e.g., getting sick or defaulting on a loan. Competition between firms (e.g., insurance companies, banks) for customers may lead to inefficiencies, even complete market collapse, in such markets as firms are not sensitive to the costs their actions have on other firms. For example, a firm may design products to selectively attract (“cream-skim”) the safe customers, which worsens the pool of remaining customers. This can cause the market to unravel.

Economists have taken two contrasting, but complementary, approaches to studying these issues. The first, dominant from the 1970’s through the mid-2000’s, assumed customers differed only along a single dimension like health risk and studied equilibrium when firms perfectly compete and offer arbitrarily complicated mechanisms. Nathan Hendren will present some classic results from this “game theoretic” approach. In the last decade, economists have been interested in a “price theoretic” approach where firms use very simple strategies, like offering a single, standard insurance contract, but where they compete in a more realistic environment where they have market power or when customers differ along multiple dimensions such as their income as well as their health. Glen Weyl will present this approach. Eduardo Azevedo will present his joint work with Daniel Gottlieb, which tries to bridge these approaches with a new perfectly competitive solution concept that exists generally, applies in settings with multiple dimensions of consumer heterogeneity but allows for a rich range of contracts to be traded.

AGT@IJCAI Workshop

[The following workshop announcement comes to us by way of Carmine Ventre.]

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AGT@IJCAI 2015 Preliminary Call for Papers
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1st Workshop on Algorithmic Game Theory at IJCAI
Buenos Aires, Argentina
July 24-31, 2015
http://www.intelligence.tuc.gr/agt2015

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Deadlines:

April 27, 2015 – Submission of contributions to workshops;
May 20, 2015 – Workshop paper acceptance notification;
May 30, 2015 – Deadline for final camera ready copy to workshop organizers.

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Scope:

Over the past fifteen years, research in theoretical computer science, artificial intelligence, and microeconomics has joined forces to tackle problems involving incentives and computation. This research field, commonly named Algorithmic Game Theory, is becoming increasingly more relevant.

The main aim of this one-day long workshop is to bring together the rich variety of scientists that IJCAI attracts in order to have a multidisciplinary forum within which discuss and analyze current and novel challenges that the research in Algorithmic Game Theory faces.

Submission:

All paper submissions will be peer-reviewed and evaluated on the basis of the quality of their contribution, originality, soundness, and significance. Industrial applications and position papers presenting novel ideas, issues, challenges and directions are also welcome. Submissions are invited in, but not limited to, the following topics:

– Algorithmic mechanism design
– Auction algorithms and analysis
– Behavioral Game Theory
– Bounded rationality
– Computational advertising
– Computational aspects of equilibria
– Computational social choice
– Convergence and learning in games
– Coalitions, coordination and collective action
– Economic aspects of security and privacy
– Economic aspects of distributed and network computing
– Information and attention economics
– Network games
– Price differentiation and price dynamics
– Social networks

Papers are to be submitted electronically on easychair. Submission link and submission format will be available on the workshop website in due course.

Publication:

To widen participation and encourage discussion, there will be no formal publication of workshop proceedings. Therefore, submissions of preliminary work and papers to be submitted or in preparation for submission to other major venues in the field are encouraged.

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Program Committee:

Ioannis Caragiannis (University of Patras)
Constantinos Daskalakis (MIT)
Edith Elkind (University of Oxford)
Diodato Ferraioli (Università di Salerno)
Martin Gairing (University of Liverpool)
Enrico H. Gerding (University of Southampton)
Vasilis Gkatzelis (Stanford)
Umberto Grandi (IRIT)
Gianluigi Greco (Università della Calabria)
Nicole Immorlica (Microsoft Research)
Jerome Lang (Université Paris-Dauphine)
Kate Larson (University of Waterloo)
Katrina Ligett (California Institute of Technology)
Emiliano Lorini (IRIT)
Brendan Lucier (MSR New England)
Vangelis Markakis (Athens University of Economics and Business)
Noam Nisan (Hebrew University of Jerusalem)
David Parkes (Harvard University)
Maria Polukarov (University of Southampton)
Valentin Robu (Heriot-Watt University)
Francesca Rossi (Università di Padova)
Eva Tardos (Cornell)
Orestis Telelis (University of Piraeus)
Vijay V. Vazirani (Georgia Tech)
Angelina Vidali (UPMC Sorbonne Universities)
Toby Walsh (NICTA and and UNSW)

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Organizing Committee:

Georgios Chalkiadakis (Technical University of Crete)
Nicola Gatti  (Politecnico di Milano)
Reshef Meir (Harvard University)
Carmine Ventre (Teesside University)

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Methods from CS have enabled new understanding of topics in game theory and economics, but have been explored only for a small collection of subareas of game theory and economics. There may be opportunities more broadly and especially in areas that computer scientists would not naturally explore on their own. The following workshop is a coordinated effort of AGT researchers and economists in the Cambridge area to explore possible interactions more broadly. Feel free to attend if you are in the Cambridge area; if not you may find the format interesting. The official announcement follows.

Reverse AGT Workshop on Optimal Taxation
Harvard U, 20 University Road, Room 646
1-4pm, Monday, November 24, 2014

Summary:
At the Reverse AGT Workshop local economists will present an area of economic study for an algorithmic game theory (AGT) audience. The presentations will include a brief introduction to the area and several current research topics. The schedule includes ample time for discussion to make connections to related research in AGT and to highlight research questions that methods from AGT might help to answer. The topic of the first workshop is Optimal Taxation and it is organized by Glen Weyl, Brendan Lucier, and Jason Hartline.

Program:

1:00: Glen Weyl: Introduction to Optimal Redistributive Taxation
1:30: Q/A and discussion

1:45: Stefanie Stantcheva: Approximating Optimal Tax Systems
2:15: Q/A and discussion

2:30: Benjamin Lockwood: Optimal Income Taxation with Misoptimizing Consumers
3:00: Q/A and discussion

3:15: Coffee and cookies
3:45: Summary discussion and closing comments

Abstracts:

Introduction to Optimal Redistributive Taxation
Glen Weyl (Microsoft Research and U. of Chicago)

I will give a brief introduction to the theory of utilitarian optimal redistributive taxation proposed by Vickrey (1945) based on insurance behind the veil of ignorance. I will mostly focus on the types of models studied and results obtained, rather than on techniques used. I will discuss the veil of ignorance argument for utilitarianism, the optimal linear income tax, the nonlinear income tax problem, the optimal top tax rate, the Atkinson Stiglitz theorem, tagging, the taxation of leisure complements and, briefly, a few more recent results that I find particularly interesting.

Approximating Optimal Tax Systems
Stefanie Stantcheva (Harvard Economics)

In this talk, I will highlight how complex dynamic optimal tax systems are in realistic settings. I will show how economists have tried to simplify the optimal systems numerically. I will then argue that it is crucial to have a theory of approximation of optimal tax systems that can be applied in a consistent manner to different environments and tax problems. I will propose directions along which to think about this and present the beginning of the work I am doing on this.

Optimal Income Taxation with Misoptimizing Consumers
Benjamin Lockwood (Harvard Business School)

This paper studies optimal redistributive income taxation in the presence of psychological frictions. We augment familiar formulas for optimal taxes using “sufficient statistics” for misoptimization, which abstract from the underlying behavioral model generating misoptimization. We show that corrections are likely to be strongest at the bottom of the income distribution, and we clarify conditions under which the planner should work to correct or exacerbate misoptimization. Finally, we show how this approach can be implemented empirically, using reduced-form evidence about responses to the Earned Income Tax Credit to estimate the degree of misoptimization. Simulations suggest that this type of misoptimization generates substantial optimal work subsidies for low income individuals. Joint with Dmitry Taubinsky.

The Simons institute at Berkeley will be having a semester on Economics and Computation in Fall 2015 (Aug 19 – Dec 18, 2015).

The Simons institute is awarding research fellowships for participation in this semester!   These Fellowships are intended for “exceptional young scientists (within at most six years of the award of their PhD at the start of academic year 2015-16)”. In addition, the Institute co-hosts joint fellowships in which a fellow spends a period (typically one semester) as a Simons-Berkeley Fellow and is also appointed to a postdoctoral position at a partner institution.

The deadline for applications is near: December 15, 2014.

Judging from past semesters (on other topics), this is going to be the place to be for researchers in the area during that semester.

NYCE Day Announcement

We’re posting the following announcement on behalf of the organizers of New York Computer Science and Economics Day.

The 7th annual New York Computer Science and Economics Day (NYCE Day 2014) will  take place on Friday, December 5th in Microsoft’s Times Square location in New York City. The goal of NYCE Day is to bring together researchers in New York and surrounding areas who are interested in problems at the  intersection of economics and computation. We will have a panel on “Data Science in Online Ad Ecosystem”, three invited talks, a session of contributed talks, and a poster session. Our invited speakers this year are Anindya Ghose (NYU), Arpita Ghosh (Cornell), and Ehud Kalai (Northwestern). The panel, moderated by Muthu Muthukrishnan (MSR and Rutgers), will bring together Chief Scientists  of several major players in the Online Ads world, including Google and NY Times.

If you plan to attend the workshop please register online before November 24. While limited on-site registration will be available, relying on that may lead to significant delays at the lobby.

Organizers,

Arash Asadpour (NYU Stern), Mohammad Hossein Bateni (Google Research), Alex Slivkins (MSR-NYC).

The 16th ACM Conference on Economics and Computation (EC 2015) will be held on June 15-19, as part of FCRC 2015, in Portland, Oregon. The Call for Papers is now out. As in previous years, to accommodate the publishing traditions of different fields (i.e., subsequent publications in Econ/other journals), authors of accepted papers are allowed to publish only a one page abstract in the proceedings.  Looking forward to your contribution and participation!