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Simple, Credible, and Approximately-Optimal Auctions

02/16/2020
by   Constantinos Daskalakis, et al.
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We identify the first static credible mechanism for multi-item additive auctions that achieves a constant factor of the optimal revenue. This is one instance of a more general framework for designing two-part tariff auctions, adapting the duality framework of Cai et al [CDW16]. Given a (not necessarily incentive compatible) auction format A satisfying certain technical conditions, our framework augments the auction with a personalized entry fee for each bidder, which must be paid before the auction can be accessed. These entry fees depend only on the prior distribution of bidder types, and in particular are independent of realized bids. Our framework can be used with many common auction formats, such as simultaneous first-price, simultaneous second-price, and simultaneous all-pay auctions. If all-pay auctions are used, we prove that the resulting mechanism is credible in the sense that the auctioneer cannot benefit by deviating from the stated mechanism after observing agent bids. If second-price auctions are used, we obtain a truthful O(1)-approximate mechanism with fixed entry fees that are amenable to tuning via online learning techniques. Our results for first price and all-pay are the first revenue guarantees of non-truthful mechanisms in multi-dimensional environments; an open question in the literature [RST17].

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