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Buy-Many Mechanisms for Many Unit-Demand Buyers

by   Shuchi Chawla, et al.
University of Wisconsin-Madison
The University of Texas at Austin

A recent line of research has established a novel desideratum for designing approximately-revenue-optimal multi-item mechanisms, namely the buy-many constraint. Under this constraint, prices for different allocations made by the mechanism must be subadditive implying that the price of a bundle cannot exceed the sum of prices of individual items it contains. This natural constraint has enabled several positive results in multi-item mechanism design bypassing well-established impossibility results. Our work addresses a main open question from this literature involving the design of buy-many mechanisms for multiple buyers. Our main result is that a simple sequential item pricing mechanism with buyer-specific prices can achieve an O(log m) approximation to the revenue of any buy-many mechanism when all buyers have unit-demand preferences over m items. This is the best possible as it directly matches the previous results for the single-buyer setting where no simple mechanism can obtain a better approximation. Our result applies in full generality: even though there are many alternative ways buy-many mechanisms can be defined for multi-buyer settings, our result captures all of them at the same time. We achieve this by directly competing with a more permissive upper-bound on the buy-many revenue, obtained via an ex-ante relaxation.


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