Archive for March, 2018

The following announcement is by Yuval Rabani, the chair of IEEE’s Technical Committee on Mathematical Foundations of Computing (that, in particular, runs FOCS).

Recently, many theoreticians have become aware of issues, stories, and rumors concerning sexual harassment within our community, in other CS communities, and more broadly in science.

A number of initiatives, most notably the mushrooming codes of conduct at theory conferences, are already being put into practice.

In consultation among some of the main organizations running theory venues (IEEE TCMF/FOCS, ACM SIGACT/STOC+JACM, EATCS/ICALP, SIAM/SODA+SICOMP) we’ve decided to appoint a joint committee to discuss and propose coordinated policies, procedures, and institutions to deal with harassment and related ethical issues which cut across organizational boundaries. Sandy Irani will chair the committee. Its charter is stated as follows:

“We are setting an ad-hoc committee to draft a proposal for joint ToC measures to combat discrimination, harassment, bullying, and retaliation, and all matters of ethics that might relate to that. Proposed measures may include, but are not restricted to, coordinating policies and guidelines, and setting community-wide institutions for reporting and oversight. The primary goal should be a determination to deter and root out such behavior in the theory community. The issues of false reporting and due process should be taken into account. The committee is expected to conduct the necessary research on existing practices. The committee will submit a report to the appointing organizations by September 30, 2018.”

If you wish an organization be included in the loop, please contact me. If you wish to convey to the committee ideas and thoughts, please contact Sandy or other members as they’ll be announced.

In the meantime, while we are waiting for the committee’s more thoughtful suggestions, here are a couple of simple and potentially effective steps, off the top of my head:

1. If you are harassing someone, please stop.
2. If you are not harassing anyone, please don’t start.

I will gladly contribute to a lively open discussion and react to comments, especially if they occasionally reach my awareness by relaying their existence to my email feed. (Regrettably, I don’t spend all my waking hours monitoring theory blogs.)



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The first Workshop on Opinion Aggregation, Dynamics, and Elicitation (WADE) will be held in Cornell University, Ithaca, NY on June 22, 2018 in conjunction with the 19th ACM Conference on Economics and Computation (EC)


Workshop Theme

Traditional social choice has concerned itself with aggregating discrete outcomes via voting. Increasingly, there is a need to aggregate opinions. For instance, consider the problem of designing the capital budget of a city or country. Or eliciting what trade-offs are worth making to mitigate the effect of climate change. On such issues, there are a spectrum of opinions, most of which are quite complex, and many of which are ill-informed.

At the same time, crowdsourcing and complex polling are in increasing use for subjective opinion: examples are prediction markets, peer assessment, and Bayesian opinion elicitation in the presence of incentives.

This leads to questions like:

  • How can voting schemes be adapted to elicit complex preferences?
  • How should preferences be aggregated so that the outcomes are a fair representation of societal views?
  • Individual preferences are often shaped by networked interactions. How does the dynamics of opinion formation affect the process of eliciting and aggregating opinions?
  • Can we design algorithmic approaches to group negotiation and deliberation for social choice problems?
  • How do we incentivize participation, effort, and truthful reporting in opinion aggregation?
  • Finally, how should platforms and mechanisms be designed to elicit, inform, and aggregate opinions?

The goal of this workshop is to bring together participants from diverse fields that are relevant to such problems — social choice theory, prediction markets, opinion dynamics, and fair resource allocation in order to foster a lively interchange of ideas. The two essential features of work discussed at this workshop are:

  1. The ultimate goal of the problem or model being discussed is to make a single group or societal decision (eg. as opposed to bandwidth allocation or ad allocation where resources need to be split among participants or recommendation systems where decisions are personalized), and
  2. Different participants have different utilities, or subjective preferences.

We invite papers of all kinds — theory, empirical, and experimental — related to any of these aspects. The workshop’s submissions site contains more information about submitting papers or panel discussion proposals.

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The 2nd Workshop on Mechanism Design for Social Good will be taking place at this year’s ACM Conference on Economics and Computation at Cornell University on June 22, 2018.

The goal of the workshop is to highlight work where insights from algorithms, optimization, and mechanism design have the potential to impact social good. In particular, we will focus on the theme of improving access to opportunity. The workshop will feature keynote presentations focusing on economic inequality, online labor markets, bias and discrimination. We encourage submissions addressing these and other domains, such as housing, healthcare, education, civic participation, privacy, and the developing world. The workshop aims to showcase ongoing exemplary work on these topics and to highlight exciting opportunities for future research. Submissions of all types are encouraged, including theoretical or applied mechanism design work, research that solves algorithmic or optimization problems, and empirical research.
Topics of interest for this workshop include but are not limited to:
  • redistributive mechanisms to improve access to opportunity
  • economic inequality and intergenerational mobility
  • mitigating unequal economic outcomes in online labor markets
  • detecting existence or causes of exploitative market behavior in online labor markets
  • the design of algorithms that mitigate bias and improve diversity
  • allocating low-income housing assistance
  • allocating health insurance funds, managing access to healthcare, and pricing medical treatments
  • design of health insurance markets
  • evaluating students, teachers, or schools
  • design of transportation systems
  • market regulations for data and privacy
  • algorithmic solutions to encourage civic participation
  • evaluating fairness in electoral representation 
Submissions will be evaluated on the following criteria:
  • Quality of submission as measured by accuracy and clarity of exposition.
  • Relevance to this workshop and its theme of improving access to opportunity.
  • Novelty of domain: we particularly encourage work on applications that have been less explored within the EC community.
  • Potential for follow-up work in the EC community: those from other communities who feel they fit this criterion are especially encouraged to submit.
Submission Instructions:
Authors should upload a PDF of their paper to EasyChair. There are no specific formatting instructions. Submissions may either be working papers or papers that have been published at an established conference or journal. In the latter case, please include a citation on EasyChair.  In addition to the PDF, authors are asked to upload a 200-250 word description onto EasyChair summarizing the results and their relevance to the workshop. The committee reserves the right not to review all the technical details of submissions. 
Authors may submit papers that are already under review or accepted in conferences or journals. However, papers accepted to this year’s EC will not be considered for presentation at the workshop. There will be no published proceedings.
Important Information:  
  • Submission Deadline: April 21, 2018, 11:59pm AoE
  • Submission page: EasyChair
  • Notification: May 16, 2018
  • Workshop Date: June 22, 2018
Organizing Committee:
Program Chairs:

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On behalf of the organizing committee: Ashish Goel, Jason Hartline, Gabriel Carroll, and Nicole Immorlica.

This year, the ACM Conference on Economics and Computation (EC) will host a festival highlighting some of the best work in economics and computation that typically appears in conferences and journals adjacent to EC. The intention of this festival is to expose EC attendees to related work just beyond the boundary of their current awareness.

We seek nominations for papers that have made breakthrough advances, opened up new questions or areas, made unexpected connections, or had significant impact on practice or other sciences. Examples of conferences and journals that publish papers relevant for our festival include STOC/FOCS/SODA, AAAI/IJCAI/AAMAS, NIPS/ICML/COLT, WWW/KDD, AER/Econometrica/QJE/RESTUD/TE/AEJ Micro/JET/GEB, and Math of OR/Management Science/Operations Research. Please email nominations to agtfest2018@gmail.com. Anyone is welcome to contact us, but we especially invite members of PCs or editorial boards in various venues to send us suggestions. Nominations should include:

  • Name of paper and authors.
  • Publication venue or online working version. Preference will be given to papers that have appeared in a related conference or journal within the past two years, or have a working version circulated within the past two years.
  • Short (1-3 paragraph) explanation of the paper and its importance.
  • (Optional) Names of 1-3 knowledgeable experts on the area of the paper.

Note at least one of the authors of a selected paper will be required to present their paper at EC 2018 and so should be available to travel to the conference, which is taking place in Ithaca, NY from June 19-21, 2018. To ensure maximum consideration, please send all nominations by March 31, 2018.

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Last year I gave a series of lectures covering the latest connections between complexity theory and economics.  Morning lectures focused on the most recent breakthroughs on the complexity of computing equilibria, including Rubinstein’s quasi-polynomial-time hardness for computing an approximate Nash equilibrium of a bimatrix game from FOCS ’16, the Babichenko-Rubinstein communication complexity lower bounds for the same problem (from STOC ’17), and the Hubacek-Naor-Yogev average-case hardness of TFNP (from ITCS ’17).  Evening lectures focused on complexity-theoretic barriers in economics (including joint work with Parikshit Gopalan, Noam Nisan, and Inbal Talgam-Cohen).

I’m happy to report that lectures notes are finally available (from arXiv or ECCC).

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