The ACM EC20 conference to be held on July 13-17, 2020 in Budapest is now calling for proposals for tutorials and workshops.  The deadline for submission of such proposals is March 2nd, 2020.

Here’s Alex’s announcement of his new book, which I am very excited about, and many in our community would no doubt find extremely useful (there’s even an open version on arXiv!):

I am pleased to announce Introduction to multi-armed bandits, a broad and accessible introduction to the area which emphasizes connections to operations research, game theory, and mechanism design. The said connections have generated a considerable amount of interest (and publications) in the Economics and Computation community.

The book is teachable by design: each chapter corresponds to one week of my class. Each chapter handles one big direction in the literature on bandits, covers the first-order concepts and results on a technical level, and provides a detailed literature review for further exploration. There are no prerequisites other than a certain level of mathematical maturity.

The chapters are as follows: stochastic bandits; lower bounds; Bayesian bandits and Thompson Sampling; Lipschitz Bandits; full feedback and adversarial costs; adversarial bandits; linear costs and semi-bandits; contextual bandits; bandits and games; bandits with knapsacks; bandits and incentives.

The book is also available on arxiv (in a plain-format version).

Aleksandrs Slivkins
Microsoft Research NYC

The “Young” Workshop on Economics and Computation (YoungEC) will be held in Tel-Aviv University, Israel, during December 31st, 2019 to January 2nd, 2020. The list of speakers includes a small number of established central figures in the field together with a larger number of bright rising stars worldwide.

The workshop is now open for registration.

Please nominate for the SIGecom Test of Time Award.

The SIGecom Test of Time Award recognizes the author or authors of an influential paper or series of papers published between ten and twenty-five years ago that has significantly impacted research or applications exemplifying the interplay of economics and computation.

To be eligible, a paper or series of papers must be on a topic in the intersection of economics and computation, and must have been first published, in preliminary or final form, in an archival journal or conference proceedings no less than ten years and no more than twenty-five years before the year the award is conferred. Papers for which all authors are deceased at the time the Award Committee makes its decision are not eligible for the award.

The 2020 SIGecom Test of Time Award will be given for papers published no earlier than 1995 and no later than 2010. Nominations are due by February 29th, 2020, and must be made by email to the Award Committee with “2020 ACM SIGecom Test of Time Award” in the subject.

See details at https://www.sigecom.org/awardt.html


The 2020 Test of Time Award Committee

Paul Milgrom, Stanford University

Noam Nisan, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Éva Tardos (chair), Cornell University

By David Eppstein & Vijay Vazirani

No, not to make theoreticians rich! Besides, who will buy your papers anyway? (Quite the opposite, you will be lucky if you can convince someone to take them for free, just for sake of publicity!) What we are proposing is a market in which no money changes hands – a matching market – for matching papers to conferences.

First, a short preamble on how the idea emerged.

Preamble (by Vijay):  Soon after my recent Simons talk on Matching Markets, I sent its url to Al Roth. Obviously, I wasn’t expecting a return email. However, the perfect gentleman and ultimate scholar that Al is, he did reply, and mentioned that he did not like my “definition” of matching markets and said, “I guess I would say matching markets are markets because they aggregate information that is held by the participants, which is what markets do (even if they don’t use prices to do it..).” This hit me like lightening from the sky – suddenly it crystallized the innate intuition about markets which I had formed through work on algorithmic aspects of markets! I thanked Al profusely and added, “This definitely helps in me get the right perspective on the notion!”

About a week ago, while updating my talk for a seminar at Columbia University, I included this beautiful insight in it and then a thought occurred: Each PC meeting involves aggregation of information from a large number of agents: PC members as well as external experts. Hence, isn’t a conference a matching market? Excitedly, I sent this question to Al. He replied, “… the conference process, matching papers to conferences, is a market and a particular conference might be a marketplace … ”

When I returned home, my esteemed colleague, David Eppstein, stunned me by declaring that he had thought of a market relevant to our field in which no money changes hands. I immediately knew he was thinking of the conference process. But he got to it out of the blue … and not the long process it took me!

Back to the idea:  In the past, matching markets have brought immense efficiency and order in allocation problems in which use of money is considered repugnant, the prime examples being matching medical residents to hospitals, kidney exchange, and assignment of students of a large city to its schools.

At present we are faced with massive inefficiencies in the conference process – numerous researchers are trapped in unending cycles of submit … get reject … incorporate comments … resubmit — often to the next deadline which has been conveniently arranged a couple of days down the road so the unwitting participants are conditioned into mindlessly keep coming back for more, much like Pavlov’s dog.

We are proposing a matching market approach to finally obliterate this madness. We believe such a market is feasible using the following ideas. No doubt our scheme will have some drawbacks; however, as should be obvious, the advantages far outweigh them.

First, for co-located symposia within a larger umbrella conference, such as the
conferences within ALGO or FCRC, the following process should be a no-brainer:

1). Ensure a common deadline for all symposia; denote the latter by S.

2). Let R denote the set of researchers who wish to submit one paper to a symposium in this umbrella conference – assume that researchers submitting more than one paper will have multiple names, one for each submission. Each researcher will provide a strict preference order over the subset of symposia to which they wish to submit their paper. Let G denote the bipartite graph with vertex sets (R, S) and an edge (r, s) only if researcher r chose symposium s.

3). The umbrella conference will have a large common PC with experts representing all of its symposia. The process of assigning papers to PC members will of course use G in a critical way.

Once papers are reviewed by PC members and external reviewers, each symposium will rank its submissions using its own criteria of acceptance. We believe the overhead of ranking each paper multiple times is minimal since that is just an issue of deciding how “on-topic” a paper is – an easy task once the reviews of the paper are available.

4). Finally, using all these preference lists, a researcher-proposing stable matching is computed using the Gale-Shapley algorithm. As is well-known, this mechanism will be dominant strategy incentive compatible for researchers.

With a little extra effort, a similar scheme can also be used for a group of conferences at diverse locations but similar times, such as some of the annual summer theory conferences, STOC, ICALP, ESA, STAC, WADS/SWAT, etc.












Microsoft Research New York City is hiring in Economics and Computation. We are looking for a postdoc and a full-time researcher (at all levels), with a start date in July 2020. Please encourage strong candidates to apply by December 1.

Research in Economics and Computation group at Microsoft Research NYC, and a closely affiliated group at MSR New England, spans a wide variety of topics at the intersection of economics and computation. Topics include algorithmic game theory, design of mechanisms and markets, crowdsourcing & human computation, exploration and incentives, information aggregation & elicitation, including polling and prediction markets, machine learning in economics, fair decision making, and social network theory. 

More information on the position and how to apply: https://careers.microsoft.com/us/en/job/730319/Postdoctoral-Researcher-Economics, 

Our Economics and Computation group: 

And everyone at MSR-NYC: 
https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/research/lab/microsoft-research-new-york/people/?# . 

Please note that MSR-NYC is hiring in other areas too. To learn more, go to: 
https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/research/lab/microsoft-research-new-york/opportunities/?# . 

Microsoft Research has multiple research intern positions in the Economics and Computation group and Microeconomics group for the Summer of 2020. Positions are available in both the New England and New York City labs.

Research areas include market design, algorithmic game theory, social network theory, prediction markets, connections between economics and machine learning, applied and theoretical microeconomics, public economics, industrial organization, behavioral economics, and applied and theoretical econometrics (including ALICE).

Potential mentors in MSR NE include  Hunt Allcott, Greg Lewis, Brendan Lucier, Markus Mobius, and Vasilis Syrgkanis.  Potential mentors in MSR NYC include Nicole Immorlica, David Rothschild, Alex Slivkins and Jenn Wortman Vaughan.

Candidates must be currently enrolled in a PhD program in Computer Science, Economics, or a related field.  Please apply by December 13 for full consideration.  The application for MSR NE can be found here; the application for MSR NYC can be found here.  Candidates are encouraged to apply to both postings.

The Twenty-First ACM Conference on Economics and Computation (EC’20) will be held on July 13-17, 2020 in Budapest, Hungary. The main conference will take place on July 14-16, 2020 with tutorials on Monday, July 13 and workshops on Friday, July 17. The conference is co-located with the Sixth World Congress of the Game Theory Society.
We solicit paper submissions for presentation in the technical program. The deadline for submissions is February 12, 2020 at 3pm EST.
Note that EC’20 is continuing and expanding the forward-to-journal option that was piloted by EC’19; new partner journals include Artificial Intelligence, Marketing Science, Naval Research Logistics, RAND Journal of Economics, and the Review of Economic Studies. In addition, the new feature-at-INFORMS option allows authors to have their accepted EC submissions automatically considered for presentation at the INFORMS Annual Meeting.
For more details, please refer to the full call for papers and the list of program committee members.
We hope to see you in Budapest!
Best regards,
Michael Ostrovsky and Ariel Procaccia
EC’20 Program Chairs

Videos of all PapaFest talks and panels are here.

One of my favorite parables ever since childhood was that of the four blind men and the elephant, with each man announcing the local image evoked in his mind’s eye on touching a different part of the elephant. This parable has provided an interesting metaphor even for serious scientific matters, a well-known one being wave-particle duality in physics.

But when it comes to matching markets, the parable has taken an unusual twist, with the proverbial elephant undergoing a metamorphosis of its own! The “blind men’’ in this case are entire disciplines which can lay claim to the field of matching markets. Of course, the obvious one is economics – the founders of this field, namely Gale and Shapley, were mathematical economists and the 2012 Nobel Prize in Economics was awarded to Alvin Roth and Lloyd Shapley for work on these markets.

A key enabler was researchers in systems and networking. Their scientific revolutions of the Internet and mobile computing put matching markets on an exciting, new journey and their systems run these centralized markets on powerful computers.

The discipline of algorithm design has had an umbilical connection to matching markets: At the birth of this field lies the highly sophisticated Gale-Shapley stable matching algorithm (1962), whose pivotal game-theoretic property of incentive compatibility follows as a free gift from polynomial time solvability — it was established two decades after the discovery of the algorithm! Yet most researchers, including those in theoretical computer science, are not aware that algorithm design is also a legitimate claimant to this field. Indeed, the very “engine’’ that runs almost each one of these markets is a sophisticated algorithm chosen from the “gold mine’’ of matching theory! Besides stable matching, this includes maximum matching and online matching and their numerous variants.

Looking back at the huge expansion of matching markets over the last decade-and-a-half, one can see that all three disciplines were faced with numerous challenges: understanding the incentive structure of a new market; finding ways of dealing with terra-bytes of data, and choosing and delivering within milli-seconds the “right’’ ads to show with a user query; and designing an algorithm for the latest variant of online matching. And they all delivered!

The rich and diverse set of research talks given at the recent Simons program on matching markets is proof enough that the elephant is still evolving!