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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.

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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.

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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.

Organizers,

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

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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!

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As part of an initiative to improve the CS-Econ academic job market, this blog post is to provide initial information for Econ-CS students who are interested in applying to business schools and operations research (OR) departments. Special thanks for coauthoring this post are due to guest bloggers Itai Ashlagi (MIT, Sloan) and Jacob Leshno (Columbia Business School).

Business schools have a variety of groups, different schools are organized differently and groups differ by their names. The most relevant groups are in the area of Operations (such as Operations Management, Operations Research), Decisions (such Decision Sciences and Information Science), and depending on your research you might find connections to Marketing or Strategy groups. It is worthwhile to spend some time looking online and engaging your contacts to learn more about different places that might be interested in you. This post will focus mostly on the Operations job market although some information is related to all of these areas.

Job market candidates who have further questions that are not answered below are encouraged to email either of the authors of this post. Answers to any general-interest questions will be included in future updates.

When does the job market take place?
The typical recruiting process for Operations-like groups starts by asking applicants to submit a partial application due October or November. The early applications are used for conducting short interviews/meetings with candidates in INFORMS (a big annual conference in OR and Management Science which will take place this year on November 9-12). In addition to short interviews, departments will send to representatives attend talks of potential candidate who are presenting at INFORMS (information regarding the talk should be included in the early application).

Deadlines for “full” applications are usually after INFORMS (between Thanksgiving and January and vary quite a bit), and flyouts (campus interviews) take place between January and March. Applying early for short interviews is not a requirement.

Some Marketing groups have faculty that do quantitative research and may be interested in CS-Econ work. The Marketing job market begins very early (application deadlines are around August) and campus interviews are around October-November. We hope to collect more information about this market in the future.

How to apply?
Information about OR-like job postings can be found at Operations Academia. Also check the INFORMS website under “Build your career“. Groups such as Decisions Sciences or Information Sciences may also post their jobs on economics job listings such as the AEA’s Job Openings for Economists.

What can I read to be better prepared?
General advice about the job market in economics and some for OR is given in the links below. Although the economics job market is a bit different, much of the advice is very relevant to candidate going to OR-like jobs and is recommended to read:

What should be my job talk/job market paper?
This is a tough question as the OR-like market is somewhere between economics and CS in several ways. CS candidate typically have many papers while economics students typically have only a few polished papers. The job talk/job market paper should showcase that you have an agenda, even if your results are dispersed between different papers. You want to convey that you have a well formed research direction and make your work relevant and interesting to your audience. To make your work relevant, remember that the audience of your talk does not necessarily have a CS background and so you should not assume they are familiar with CS methods or justification. You must explain why your result is a good result.

It is important to have a job market paper (see advice about job market papers for econonomics students).

When should I start preparing for this job market?
As early as possible. We would suggest to start to thinking about the job market (job market paper) at least two years before graduating. When you are conducting research, think how it will fit into a cohesive research portfolio. Going to conferences and communicating with colleagues from other fields will help you understand how to interest them in your research when you are on the market. Finding and working on more general materials (like applications, statements, etc.) usually happens after the summer of the year of graduation (or Marketing this begins before the summer). It is recommended not to wait until the fall to begin.

How do business schools “count” conference publications?
Different fields have different publication outlets. Business schools/OR care less about CS conference publications, although it is understood that candidates maybe come from different backgrounds. Journal publications are important and there are several top journals in the OR-like area. Common ones are Management Science and Operations Research. Top economics journals are also good. Other journals that are often considered good in different groups (such as Math or OR, Mathematical Programming, top economics field journals like GEB). It is in general good for students who are interested in such jobs to submit papers to good journals.

Are there venues to present work prior to the job market in order to increase visibility?
Yes. INFORMS is in the fall and MSOM (Manufacturing science and Operations Management) is in the early summer.


  • INFORMS‘s call for papers is in the late spring and it is not very competitive. There are also organized (invited) sessions, typically there is a cluster on CS-Econ topics that is organized by someone in CS-Econ.
  • MSOM‘s call for papers happens early in the spring and it is also not competitive. Submissions are just a summary of few pages. They have a mailing list one can register to get information not only about the conference (also many job postings are sent through this mailing list). MSOM has special sessions for job market candidates to give talks and these talks are recorded.

What are the main things that business schools are looking for in interviews that are distinct from CS interviews?
As in every interview, your interviewers are interested to learn about your work and to learn all your strengths. In contrast to CS interviews, they may not be familiar with some/many technical aspects of your work, so explaining your results may be more challenging. Business schools need people who can teach MBAs, and value the ability to communicate ideas in a non technical way. For example, your ability to clearly motivate to the (non-CS) audience of your job talk your CS methods can help demonstrate this ability. One-on-one interviewers will be looking for this ability as well. Also, candidates typically wear a suit to their interview.

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