Archive for November, 2014

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

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.


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


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.

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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.

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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.


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

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