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From the award committee:

The SIGecom Doctoral Dissertation Award recognizes an outstanding dissertation in the fields of electronic commerce and economics and computation. The award is conferred annually at the ACM Conference on Economics and Computation and includes a plaque, complimentary conference registration, and an honorarium of $1,500. A plaque may further be given to up to two runners-up. No award may be conferred if the nominations are judged not to meet the standards for the award.

To be eligible, a dissertation must be on a topic related to the fields of electronic commerce or economics and computation and must have been defended successfully during the calendar year preceding the year of the award presentation.

The next SIGecom Doctoral Dissertation Award will be given for dissertations defended in 2016. Nominations are due by April 14, 2017 (extended deadline), and must be submitted by email with the subject “SIGecom Doctoral Dissertation Award” to the awards committee at sigecom-awards-diss@acm.org. A dissertation may be nominated simultaneously for both the SIGecomDoctoral Dissertation Award and the ACM Doctoral Dissertation Award.

Nominations may be made by any member of SIGecom, and will typically come from the dissertation supervisor. Self-nomination is not allowed. Nominations for the award must include the following, preferably in a single PDF file:

  1. A two-page summary of the dissertation, written by the nominee, including bibliographic data and links to publicly accessible versions of published papers based primarily on the dissertation.
  2. An English-language version of the dissertation.
  3. An endorsement letter of no more than two pages by the nominator, arguing the merit of the dissertation, potential impact, and justification of the nomination. This document should also certify the dissertation defense date.
  4. The names, email addresses, and affiliations of at least two additional endorsers.

The additional endorsement letters themselves should be emailed directly to sigecom-awards-diss@acm.org, by the same deadline. These endorsements should be no longer than 500 words, and should specify the relationship of the endorser to the nominee, contributions of the dissertation, and its potential impact on the field.

It is expected that a nominated candidate, if selected for the award, will attend the next ACM Conference on Economics and Computation to accept the award and give a presentation on the dissertation work. The cost of attending the conference is not covered by the award, but complimentary registration is provided.

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Graduate students Rediet Abebe (Cornell) and Kira Goldner (UW) are organizing a workshop on Mechanism Design for Social Good (MD4SG) at EC 2017, after having run a highly successful multi-institutional reading group on the subject during the Fall 2016 semester. The call for papers follows.


The 1st Workshop on Mechanism Design for Social Good will be taking place at this year’s ACM Conference on Economics and Computation at MIT on June 26, 2017. The goal of this workshop is to understand domains where tools from mechanism design have the potential to impact social good.  During this year’s workshop we will focus on mechanisms that improve access to opportunity.  We aim to highlight domains that have been relatively unexplored by the EconCS community.  We invite paper submissions broadly related to these themes, including theoretical and applied mechanism design work as well as empirical research that suggests future directions for mechanism design in these domains.

 

Topics of interest for this workshop include but are not limited to:

  • allocating low-income housing

  • allocating health insurance funds, managing access to healthcare, and pricing medical treatments

  • work on health insurance markets that highlights market design issues

  • redistributive mechanisms to mitigate economic inequality

  • understanding and increasing intergenerational mobility

  • mitigating unequal economic outcomes in online labor markets

  • detecting existence or causes of exploitative market behavior in online labor markets

  • evaluating students, teachers, or schools

  • design of transportation systems to reverse trends impacting inequality

 

Submissions will be evaluated on the following criteria:

  • Relevance to this workshop and its theme.

  • Novelty of domain.

  • Potential for follow-up work in the EC community: those from other communities who feel they fit this criterion are especially encouraged to submit.

 

Authors may submit papers that are already under review or accepted in conferences or journals. There will be no published proceedings.

 

Authors will be asked to submit up to 250 words on EasyChair summarizing their results and relevance to the workshop. In addition, submissions will be accepted as a PDF and may be either working papers or papers that have been published at an established conference or journal. We do not require submissions to be in the EC format. If published, please include citation as to where it was published on the first page. The committee reserves the right not to review all the technical details of submissions.

Important Information:

  • Submission Deadline: April 27, 2017

  • Submission page: EasyChair

  • Notification: May 18, 2017

  • Workshop Date: June 26, 2017

 

Organizing Committee:

Program Chairs:

  • Rediet Abebe, Cornell University

  • Kira Goldner, University of Washington

The deadlines for the 18th ACM Conference on Economics and Computation (ACM EC 2017) are approaching:

  • February 6, 2017, 2:59 PM ET: Short Abstract Submission and Paper Registration Deadline.
  • February 13, 2017, 2:59 PM ET: Full electronic paper submissions due.

For submission instructions please see http://www.sigecom.org/ec17/papers.html

SPECIAL NOTE ON STOC’17 submissions: “If you have a STOC’17 submission and plan to send the paper to ACM EC’17 if rejected from STOC, please register the paper by February 6th as any other submission, and in case the paper is accepted to STOC, delete the EC’17 submission when notified by STOC.”

The “YoungEC” workshop on economics and computation was held on January 1-5, 2017 in Tel-Aviv.  Videos of all the talks are now available online.

I’m pleased to announce that my new textbook “Twenty Lectures on Algorithmic Game Theory” is now available from Cambridge University Press.  Here is the Amazon page.

From the back cover:

Computer science and economics have engaged in a lively interaction over the past fifteen years, resulting in the new field of algorithmic game theory. Many problems that are central to modern computer science, ranging from resource allocation in large networks to online advertising, involve interactions between multiple self-interested parties. Economics and game theory offer a host of useful models and definitions to reason about such problems. The flow of ideas also travels in the other direction, and concepts from computer science are increasingly important in economics. This book grew out of the author’s Stanford University course on algorithmic game theory, and aims to give students and other newcomers a quick and accessible introduction to many of the most important concepts in the field. The book also includes case studies on online advertising, wireless spectrum auctions, kidney exchange, and network management.

Congrats to Noam!

I’m sure that Noam is too modest to mention the great news on his own blog, so I’ll have to do it: Noam was just awarded the Knuth Prize for his many fundamental contributions to computational complexity, pseudorandomness, and algorithmic game theory.  The Knuth Prize is awarded for “outstanding contributions to the foundations of computer science by individuals for their overall impact in the field over an extended period.”

The 2017 Innovations in Theoretical Computer Science (ITCS) conference, will be held in Berkeley on January 9-11, 2017.  the Call for Papers is online.  Submission deadline is September 15th.  At the request of the program chair, Christos Papadimitriou, I am mirroring his take on the conference (which previously also appeared here).

 

ITCS:  A hidden treasure of TCS

by Christos Papadimitriou

Conferences, for me, are a bit like demonstrations: they were fun in the 1970s.  There was the Hershey STOC, of course, and that great FOCS in Providence, plus a memorable database theory gathering in Calabria.  Ah, children, you should have been there…

So, even though I was a loyal supporter of the ITCS idea from the beginning – the “I”, you recall, stands for innovation –, I managed to miss essentially all of them – except for those that left me no excuse.  For example, this year the program committee was unreasonably kind to my submissions, and so this January I was in Boston to attend.

I want to tell you about ITCS 2016, because it was a gas.

First, I saw all the talks.  I cannot recall this ever happening to me before.  I reconnected with fields of old, learned a ton, and got a few cool new ideas.

In fact, I believe that there was no talk with fewer than 60 people in the audience – and that’s about 70% of the attendees.  In most talks it was closer to 90%.  When was the last conference where you saw that?

And what is the secret of this enhanced audience attention?  One explanation is that smaller conference means small auditorium.  Listening to the talk no longer feels like watching a concert in a stadium, or an event on TV, it’s more like a story related by a friend.  Another gimmick that works well is that, at ITCS, session chairs start the session with a 10-minute “rant,” providing context and their own view of the papers in the session.

Our field got a fresh breath of cohesion at ITCS 2016: cryptographers listened to game theorists in the presence of folks who do data structures for a living, or circuit complexity – for a moment there, the seventies were back.

Ah, those papers, their cleverness and diversity and freshness!  Here is a sample of a few with a brief comment for each (take a look at the conference website for the papers and the presentations).

  • What is keeping quantum computers from conquering all of NP? It is the problem with destructive measurements, right?  Think again, say Aaronson, Bouland and Fitzsimons.  In their paper (pdf, slides) they consider several deviations from current restrictions, including non-destructive measurements, and the space ‘just above’ BQP turns out to be a fascinating and complex place.
  • Roei Tell (pdf, slides) asks another unexpected question: when is an object far from being far from having a property? On the way to an answer he discovers a rich and productive duality theory of property testing, as well as a very precise and sophisticated framework in which to explore it.
  • If you want to represent the permanent of a matrix as the determinant of another matrix of linear forms in the entries, how large must this second matrix be? – an old question by Les Valiant. The innovation by Landsberg and Ressayre (pdf, slides) is that they make fantastic progress in this important problem through geometric complexity: If certain natural symmetries are to be satisfied, the answer is exponential!

(A parenthesis:  The last two papers make the following important point clear: Innovation in ITCS isnot meant to be the antithesis of mathematical sophistication.  Deep math and methodological innovation are key ingredients of the ITCS culture.)

  • When shall we find an explicit function requiring more than 3n gates? In their brave exploration of new territory for circuit complexity, Golovnev and Kulikov (pdf, slides) find one possible answer: “as soon as we have explicit dispersers for quadratic varieties.”
  • The student paper award went to Aviad Rubinstein for his work (pdf) on auctioning multiple items – the hardest nut in algorithmic mechanism design. He gives a PTAS for optimizing over a large – and widely used – class of “partitioning” heuristics.

Even though there were no lively discussions at the lobby during the sessions – too many folks attending, see? – the interaction was intense and enjoyable during the extra long breaks and the social events.

Plus we had the Graduating Bits night, when the youngest among us get 5 minutes to tell.  I would have traveled to Cambridge just for that!

All said, ITCS 2016 was a gem of a meeting.  If you skipped it, you really missed a good one.

But there is no reason to miss ITCS 2017, let me tell you a few things about it:

  • It will be in Berkeley, January 9 -11 2017, the week before the Barcelona SODA.
  • It will take place at the Simons Institute just a few days before the boot camps on Pseudorandomness and Learning.
  • I volunteered to be program chair, and the steering committee has decided to try a few innovations in the submission process:
  • Submission deadline is mid-September, so you have a few more weeks to collect your most innovative thoughts. Notification before the STOC deadline.
  • Authors will post a copy of their paper, and will submit to the committee a statement about it, say 1000 words max. Think of it as your chance to write a favorable referee report for your own paper!  Telling the committee why you think it is interesting and innovative.  If you feel this is self-evident, just tell us that.
  • The committee members will be the judges of the overall worth and innovative nature of the paper. Sub-reviewers are optional, and their opinion is not communicated to the rest of the committee.
  • The committee may invite speakers to present specific recent interesting work. Submitted papers especially liked by the committee may be elevated to “invited.”
  • Plus Graduating Bits, chair rants, social program, not to mention the Simons Institute auditorium and Berkeley in January.

You should come!