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Lotteries for Shared Experiences

by   Nick Arnosti, et al.

We study a setting where tickets for an experience are allocated by lottery. Each agent belongs to a group, and a group is successful if and only if its members receive enough tickets for everyone. A lottery is efficient if it maximizes the number of agents in successful groups, and fair if it gives every group the same chance of success. We study the efficiency and fairness of existing approaches, and propose practical alternatives. If agents must identify the members of their group, a natural solution is the Group Lottery, which orders groups uniformly at random and processes them sequentially. We provide tight bounds on the inefficiency and unfairness of this mechanism, and describe modifications that obtain a fairer allocation. If agents may request multiple tickets without identifying members of their group, the most common mechanism is the Individual Lottery, which orders agents uniformly at random and awards each their request until no tickets remain. Because each member of a group may apply for (and win) tickets, this approach can yield arbitrarily unfair and inefficient outcomes. As an alternative, we propose the Weighted Individual Lottery, in which the processing order is biased against agents with large requests. Although it is still possible to have multiple winners in a group, this simple modification makes this event much less likely. As a result, the Weighted Individual Lottery is approximately fair and approximately efficient, and similar to the Group Lottery when there are many more agents than tickets.


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