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Bitcoin, a cryptocurrency built on the blockchain data structure, has generated significant academic and commercial interest. Contrary to prior expectations, recent research has shown that participants of the protocol (the so-called “miners”) are not always incentivized to follow the protocol. We study the game induced by one such attack – the pool block withholding attack – in which mining pools (groups of miners) attack other mining pools. We focus on the case of two pools attacking each other, with potentially other mining power in the system. We show that this game always admits a pure Nash equilibrium, and its pure price of anarchy, which intuitively measures how much computational power can be wasted due to attacks in an equilibrium, is at most 3. We conjecture, and prove in special cases, that it is in fact at most 2. Our simulations provide compelling evidence for this conjecture, and show that players can quickly converge to the equilibrium by following best response strategies.

We study classic fair-division problems in a partial information setting. This paper respectively addresses fair division of rent, cake, and indivisible goods among agents with cardinal preferences. We will show that, for all of these settings and under appropriate valuations, a fair (or an approximately fair) division among n agents can be efficiently computed using only the valuations of n − 1 agents. The nth (secretive) agent can make an arbitrary selection after the division has been proposed and, irrespective of her choice, the computed division will admit an overall fair allocation. For the rent-division setting we prove that well-behaved utilities of n − 1 agents suffice to find a rent division among n rooms such that, for every possible room selection of the secretive agent, there exists an allocation (of the remaining n − 1 rooms among the n − 1 agents) which ensures overall envy freeness (fairness). We complement this existential result by developing a polynomial-time algorithm for the case of quasilinear utilities. In this partial information setting, we also develop efficient algorithms to compute allocations that are envy-free up to one good (EF1) and ε-approximate envy free. These two notions of fairness are applicable in the context of indivisible goods and divisible goods (cake cutting), respectively. One of the main technical contributions of this paper is the development of novel connections between different fairdivision paradigms, e.g., we use our existential results for envy-free rent-division to develop an efficient EF1 algorithm.

The assignment problem is one of the most well-studied settings in multi-agent resource allocation. Aziz, de Haan, and Rastegari (2017) considered this problem with the additional feature that agents’ preferences involve uncertainty. In particular, they considered two uncertainty models neither of which is necessarily compact. In this paper, we focus on three uncertain preferences models whose size is polynomial in the number of agents and items. We consider several interesting computational questions with regard to Pareto optimal assignments. We also present some general characterization and algorithmic results that apply to large classes of uncertainty models.

We study Fisher markets that admit equilibria wherein each good is integrally assigned to some agent. While strong existence and computational guarantees are known for equilibria of Fisher markets with additive valuations (Eisenberg and Gale 1959; Orlin 2010), such equilibria, in general, assign goods fractionally to agents. Hence, Fisher markets are not directly applicable in the context of indivisible goods. In this work we show that one can always bypass this hurdle and, up to a bounded change in agents’ budgets, obtain markets that admit an integral equilibrium. We refer to such markets as pure markets and show that, for any given Fisher market (with additive valuations), one can efficiently compute a “near-by,” pure market with an accompanying integral equilibrium. Our work on pure markets leads to novel algorithmic results for fair division of indivisible goods. Prior work in discrete fair division has shown that, under additive valuations, there always exist allocations that simultaneously achieve the seemingly incompatible properties of fairness and efficiency (Caragiannis et al. 2016); here fairness refers to envyfreeness up to one good (EF1) and efficiency corresponds to Pareto efficiency. However, polynomial-time algorithms are not known for finding such allocations. Considering relaxations of proportionality and EF1, respectively, as our notions of fairness, we show that fair and Pareto efficient allocations can be computed in strongly polynomial time.

We study hedonic games under friends appreciation, where each agent considers other agents friends, enemies, or unknown agents. Although existing work assumed that unknown agents have no impact on an agent’s preference, it may be that her preference depends on the number of unknown agents in her coalition. We extend the existing preference, friends appreciation, by proposing two alternative attitudes toward unknown agents, extraversion and introversion, depending on whether unknown agents have a slightly positive or negative impact on preference. When each agent prefers coalitions with more unknown agents, we show that both core stable outcomes and individually stable outcomes may not exist. We also prove that deciding the existence of the core and the existence of an individual stable coalition structure are respectively NPNP-complete and NP-complete.

The bribery problem in elections asks whether an external agent can make some distinguished candidate win or prevent her from winning, by bribing some of the voters. This problem was studied with respect to the weighted swap distance between two votes by Elkind et al. (2009). We generalize this definition by introducing a bound on the distance between the original and the bribed votes. The distance measures we consider include a restriction of the weighted swap distance and variants of the footrule distance, which capture some realworld models of influence an external agent may have on the voters. We study constructive and destructive variants of distance bribery for scoring rules and obtain polynomial-time algorithms as well as NP-hardness results. For the case of element-weighted swap and element-weighted footrule distances, we give a complete dichotomy result for the class of pure scoring rules.

Recommendation systems are extremely popular tools for matching users and contents. However, when content providers are strategic, the basic principle of matching users to the closest content, where both users and contents are modeled as points in some semantic space, may yield low social welfare. This is due to the fact that content providers are strategic and optimize their offered content to be recommended to as many users as possible. Motivated by modern applications, we propose the widely studied framework of facility location games to study recommendation systems with strategic content providers. Our conceptual contribution is the introduction of a mediator to facility location models, in the pursuit of better social welfare. We aim at designing mediators that a) induce a game with high social welfare in equilibrium, and b) intervene as little as possible. In service of the latter, we introduce the notion of intervention cost, which quantifies how much damage a mediator may cause to the social welfare when an off-equilibrium profile is adopted. As a case study in high-welfare low-intervention mediator design, we consider the one-dimensional segment as the user domain. We propose a mediator that implements the socially optimal strategy profile as the unique equilibrium profile, and show a tight bound on its intervention cost. Ultimately, we consider some extensions, and highlight open questions for the general agenda.

We consider a game-theoretic model of information retrieval with strategic authors. We examine two different utility schemes: authors who aim at maximizing exposure and authors who want to maximize active selection of their content (i.e., the number of clicks). We introduce the study of author learning dynamics in such contexts. We prove that under the probability ranking principle (PRP), which forms the basis of the current state-of-the-art ranking methods, any betterresponse learning dynamics converges to a pure Nash equilibrium. We also show that other ranking methods induce a strategic environment under which such a convergence may not occur.

Work on implicit utilitarian voting advocates the design of preference aggregation methods that maximize utilitarian social welfare with respect to latent utility functions, based only on observed rankings of the alternatives. This approach has been successfully deployed in order to help people choose a single alternative or a subset of alternatives, but it has previously been unclear how to apply the same approach to the design of social welfare functions, where the desired output is a ranking. We propose to address this problem by assuming that voters’ utilities for rankings are induced by unknown weights and unknown utility functions, which, moreover, have a combinatorial (subadditive) structure. Despite the extreme lack of information about voters’ preferences, we show that it is possible to choose rankings such that the worst-case gap between their social welfare and that of the optimal ranking, called distortion, is no larger (up to polylogarithmic factors) than the distortion associated with much simpler problems. Through experiments, we identify practical methods that achieve nearoptimal social welfare on average.

Liquid democracy is a proxy voting method where proxies are delegable. We propose and study a game-theoretic model of liquid democracy to address the following question: when is it rational for a voter to delegate her vote? We study the existence of pure-strategy Nash equilibria in this model, and how group accuracy is affected by them. We complement these theoretical results by means of agent-based simulations to study the effects of delegations on group’s accuracy on variously structured social networks.

Much of the social choice literature examines direct voting systems, in which voters submit their ranked preferences over candidates and a voting rule picks a winner. Real-world elections and decision-making processes are often more complex and involve multiple stages. For instance, one popular voting system filters candidates through primaries: first, voters affiliated with each political party vote over candidates of their own party and the voting rule picks a candidate from each party, which then compete in a general election. We present a model to analyze such multi-stage elections, and conduct the first quantitative comparison (to the best of our knowledge) of the direct and primary voting systems with two political parties in terms of the quality of the elected candidate. Our main result is that every voting rule is guaranteed to perform almost as well (i.e., within a constant factor) under the primary system as under the direct system. Surprisingly, the converse does not hold: we show settings in which there exist voting rules that perform significantly better under the primary system than under the direct system.

In a multi-unit market, a seller brings multiple units of a good and tries to sell them to a set of buyers that have monetary endowments. While a Walrasian equilibrium does not always exist in this model, natural relaxations of the concept that retain its desirable fairness properties do exist. We study the dynamics of (Walrasian) envy-free pricing mechanisms in this environment, showing that for any such pricing mechanism, the best response dynamic starting from truth-telling converges to a pure Nash equilibrium with small loss in revenue and welfare. Moreover, we generalize these bounds to capture all the (reasonable) Nash equilibria for a large class of (monotone) pricing mechanisms. We also identify a natural mechanism, which selects the minimum Walrasian envy-free price, in which for n=2 buyers the best response dynamic converges from any starting profile. We conjecture convergence of the mechanism for any number of buyers and provide simulation results to support our conjecture.

Iterative combinatorial auctions (CAs) are often used in multibillion dollar domains like spectrum auctions, and speed of convergence is one of the crucial factors behind the choice of a specific design for practical applications. To achieve fast convergence, current CAs require careful tuning of the price update rule to balance convergence speed and allocative efficiency. Brero and Lahaie (2018) recently introduced a Bayesian iterative auction design for settings with singleminded bidders. The Bayesian approach allowed them to incorporate prior knowledge into the price update algorithm, reducing the number of rounds to convergence with minimal parameter tuning. In this paper, we generalize their work to settings with no restrictions on bidder valuations. We introduce a new Bayesian CA design for this general setting which uses Monte Carlo Expectation Maximization to update prices at each round of the auction. We evaluate our approach via simulations on CATS instances. Our results show that our Bayesian CA outperforms even a highly optimized benchmark in terms of clearing percentage and convergence speed.

Counterfactual regret minimization (CFR) is a family of iterative algorithms that are the most popular and, in practice, fastest approach to approximately solving large imperfectinformation games. In this paper we introduce novel CFR variants that 1) discount regrets from earlier iterations in various ways (in some cases differently for positive and negative regrets), 2) reweight iterations in various ways to obtain the output strategies, 3) use a non-standard regret minimizer and/or 4) leverage “optimistic regret matching”. They lead to dramatically improved performance in many settings. For one, we introduce a variant that outperforms CFR+, the prior state-of-the-art algorithm, in every game tested, including large-scale realistic settings. CFR+ is a formidable benchmark: no other algorithm has been able to outperform it. Finally, we show that, unlike CFR+, many of the important new variants are compatible with modern imperfect-informationgame pruning techniques and one is also compatible with sampling in the game tree.

Recent work shows that we can use partial verification instead of money to implement truthful mechanisms. In this paper we develop tools to answer the following question. Given an allocation rule that can be made truthful with payments, what is the minimal verification needed to make it truthful without them? Our techniques leverage the geometric relationship between the type space and the set of possible allocations.

Wagering mechanisms are one-shot betting mechanisms that elicit agents’ predictions of an event. For deterministic wagering mechanisms, an existing impossibility result has shown incompatibility of some desirable theoretical properties. In particular, Pareto optimality (no profitable side bet before allocation) can not be achieved together with weak incentive compatibility, weak budget balance and individual rationality. In this paper, we expand the design space of wagering mechanisms to allow randomization and ask whether there are randomized wagering mechanisms that can achieve all previously considered desirable properties, including Pareto optimality. We answer this question positively with two classes of randomized wagering mechanisms: i) one simple randomized lottery-type implementation of existing deterministic wagering mechanisms, and ii) another family of randomized wagering mechanisms, named surrogate wagering mechanisms, which are robust to noisy ground truth. Surrogate wagering mechanisms are inspired by an idea of learning with noisy labels (Natarajan et al. 2013) as well as a recent extension of this idea to the information elicitation without verification setting (Liu and Chen 2018). We show that a broad set of randomized wagering mechanisms satisfy all desirable theoretical properties.

We consider the problem of fairly dividing a collection of indivisible goods among a set of players. Much of the existing literature on fair division focuses on notions of individual fairness. For instance, envy-freeness requires that no player prefer the set of goods allocated to another player to her own allocation. We observe that an algorithm satisfying such individual fairness notions can still treat groups of players unfairly, with one group desiring the goods allocated to another. Our main contribution is a notion of group fairness, which implies most existing notions of individual fairness. Group fairness (like individual fairness) cannot be satisfied exactly with indivisible goods. Thus, we introduce two “up to one good” style relaxations. We show that, somewhat surprisingly, certain local optima of the Nash welfare function satisfy both relaxations and can be computed in pseudo-polynomial time by local search. Our experiments reveal faster computation and stronger fairness guarantees in practice.

Extensive-form games are a common model for multiagent interactions with imperfect information. In two-player zerosum games, the typical solution concept is a Nash equilibrium over the unconstrained strategy set for each player. In many situations, however, we would like to constrain the set of possible strategies. For example, constraints are a natural way to model limited resources, risk mitigation, safety, consistency with past observations of behavior, or other secondary objectives for an agent. In small games, optimal strategies under linear constraints can be found by solving a linear program; however, state-of-the-art algorithms for solving large games cannot handle general constraints. In this work we introduce a generalized form of Counterfactual Regret Minimization that provably finds optimal strategies under any feasible set of convex constraints. We demonstrate the effectiveness of our algorithm for finding strategies that mitigate risk in security games, and for opponent modeling in poker games when given only partial observations of private information.

Weighted voting games are a family of cooperative games, typically used to model voting situations where a number of agents (players) vote against or for a proposal. In such games, a proposal is accepted if an appropriately weighted sum of the votes exceeds a prespecified threshold. As the influence of a player over the voting outcome is not in general proportional to her assigned weight, various power indices have been proposed to measure each player’s influence. The inverse power index problem is the problem of designing a weighted voting game that achieves a set of target influences according to a predefined power index. In this work, we study the computational complexity of the inverse problem when the power index belongs to the class of semivalues. We prove that the inverse problem is computationally intractable for a broad family of semivalues, including all regular semivalues. As a special case of our general result, we establish computational hardness of the inverse problem for the Banzhaf indices and the Shapley values, arguably the most popular power indices.

In bipartite matching problems, vertices on one side of a bipartite graph are paired with those on the other. In its online variant, one side of the graph is available offline, while the vertices on the other side arrive online. When a vertex arrives, an irrevocable and immediate decision should be made by the algorithm; either match it to an available vertex or drop it. Examples of such problems include matching workers to firms, advertisers to keywords, organs to patients, and so on. Much of the literature focuses on maximizing the total relevance—modeled via total weight—of the matching. However, in many real-world problems, it is also important to consider contributions of diversity: hiring a diverse pool of candidates, displaying a relevant but diverse set of ads, and so on. In this paper, we propose the Online Submodular Bipartite Matching (OSBM) problem, where the goal is to maximize a submodular function f over the set of matched edges. This objective is general enough to capture the notion of both diversity (e.g., a weighted coverage function) and relevance (e.g., the traditional linear function)—as well as many other natural objective functions occurring in practice (e.g., limited total budget in advertising settings). We propose novel algorithms that have provable guarantees and are essentially optimal when restricted to various special cases. We also run experiments on real-world and synthetic datasets to validate our algorithms.

We consider online variations of the Pandora’s box problem (Weitzman 1979), a standard model for understanding issues related to the cost of acquiring information for decision-making. Our problem generalizes both the classic Pandora’s box problem and the prophet inequality framework. Boxes are presented online, each with a random value and cost drawn jointly from some known distribution. Pandora chooses online whether to open each box given its cost, and then chooses irrevocably whether to keep the revealed prize or pass on it. We aim for approximation algorithms against adversaries that can choose the largest prize over any opened box, and use optimal offline policies to decide which boxes to open (without knowledge of the value inside)1. We consider variations where Pandora can collect multiple prizes subject to feasibility constraints, such as cardinality, matroid, or knapsack constraints. We also consider variations related to classic multi-armed bandit problems from reinforcement learning. Our results use a reduction-based framework where we separate the issues of the cost of acquiring information from the online decision process of which prizes to keep. Our work shows that in many scenarios, Pandora can achieve a good approximation to the best possible performance.

We study social choice mechanisms in an implicit utilitarian framework with a metric constraint, where the goal is to minimize Distortion, the worst case social cost of an ordinal mechanism relative to underlying cardinal utilities. We consider two additional desiderata: Constant sample complexity and Squared Distortion. Constant sample complexity means that the mechanism (potentially randomized) only uses a constant number of ordinal queries regardless of the number of voters and alternatives. Squared Distortion is a measure of variance of the Distortion of a randomized mechanism. Our primary contribution is the first social choice mechanism with constant sample complexity and constant Squared Distortion (which also implies constant Distortion). We call the mechanism Random Referee, because it uses a random agent to compare two alternatives that are the favorites of two other random agents. We prove that the use of a comparison query is necessary: no mechanism that only elicits the top-k preferred alternatives of voters (for constant k) can have Squared Distortion that is sublinear in the number of alternatives. We also prove that unlike any top-k only mechanism, the Distortion of Random Referee meaningfully improves on benign metric spaces, using the Euclidean plane as a canonical example. Finally, among top-1 only mechanisms, we introduce Random Oligarchy. The mechanism asks just 3 queries and is essentially optimal among the class of such mechanisms with respect to Distortion. In summary, we demonstrate the surprising power of constant sample complexity mechanisms generally, and just three random voters in particular, to provide some of the best known results in the implicit utilitarian framework.

In the SHIFT-BRIBERY problem we are given an election, a preferred candidate, and the costs of shifting this preferred candidate up the voters’ preference orders. The goal is to find such a set of shifts that ensures that the preferred candidate wins the election. We give the first polynomial-time approximation scheme for the case of positional scoring rules, and for the Copeland rule we show strong inapproximability results.

We introduce the ELECTION ISOMORPHISM problem and a family of its approximate variants, which we refer to as dISOMORPHISM DISTANCE (d-ID) problems (where d is a metric between preference orders). We show that ELECTION ISOMORPHISM is polynomial-time solvable, and that the d-ISOMORPHISM DISTANCE problems generalize various classic rank-aggregation methods (e.g., those of Kemeny and Litvak). We establish the complexity of our problems (including their inapproximability) and provide initial experiments regarding the ability to solve them in practice.

Regret minimization is a powerful tool for solving large-scale extensive-form games. State-of-the-art methods rely on minimizing regret locally at each decision point. In this work we derive a new framework for regret minimization on sequential decision problems and extensive-form games with general compact convex sets at each decision point and general convex losses, as opposed to prior work which has been for simplex decision points and linear losses. We call our framework laminar regret decomposition. It generalizes the CFR algorithm to this more general setting. Furthermore, our framework enables a new proof of CFR even in the known setting, which is derived from a perspective of decomposing polytope regret, thereby leading to an arguably simpler interpretation of the algorithm. Our generalization to convex compact sets and convex losses allows us to develop new algorithms for several problems: regularized sequential decision making, regularized Nash equilibria in zero-sum extensive-form games, and computing approximate extensive-form perfect equilibria. Our generalization also leads to the first regret-minimization algorithm for computing reduced-normal-form quantal response equilibria based on minimizing local regrets. Experiments show that our framework leads to algorithms that scale at a rate comparable to the fastest variants of counterfactual regret minimization for computing Nash equilibrium, and therefore our approach leads to the first algorithm for computing quantal response equilibria in extremely large games. Our algorithms for (quadratically) regularized equilibrium finding are orders of magnitude faster than the fastest algorithms for Nash equilibrium finding; this suggests regret-minimization algorithms based on decreasing regularization for Nash equilibrium finding as future work. Finally we show that our framework enables a new kind of scalable opponent exploitation approach.