Competitive Allocation of a Mixed Manna

by   Bhaskar Ray Chaudhury, et al.

We study the fair division problem of allocating a mixed manna under additively separable piecewise linear concave (SPLC) utilities. A mixed manna contains goods that everyone likes and bads that everyone dislikes, as well as items that some like and others dislike. The seminal work of Bogomolnaia et al. [Econometrica'17] argue why allocating a mixed manna is genuinely more complicated than a good or a bad manna, and why competitive equilibrium is the best mechanism. They also provide the existence of equilibrium and establish its peculiar properties (e.g., non-convex and disconnected set of equilibria even under linear utilities), but leave the problem of computing an equilibrium open. This problem remained unresolved even for only bad manna under linear utilities. Our main result is a simplex-like algorithm based on Lemke's scheme for computing a competitive allocation of a mixed manna under SPLC utilities, a strict generalization of linear. Experimental results on randomly generated instances suggest that our algorithm will be fast in practice. The problem is known to be PPAD-hard for the case of good manna, and we also show a similar result for the case of bad manna. Given these PPAD-hardness results, designing such an algorithm is the only non-brute-force (non-enumerative) option known, e.g., the classic Lemke-Howson algorithm (1964) for computing a Nash equilibrium in a 2-player game is still one of the most widely used algorithms in practice. Our algorithm also yields several new structural properties as simple corollaries. We obtain a (constructive) proof of existence for a far more general setting, membership of the problem in PPAD, rational-valued solution, and odd number of solutions property. The last property also settles the conjecture of Bogomolnaia et al. in the affirmative.


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