Inference from auction prices

Jason Hartline, Aleck Johnsen, Denis Nekipelov, Zihe Wang

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


Econometric inference allows an analyst to back out the values of agents in a mechanism from the rules of the mechanism and bids of the agents. This paper gives an algorithm to solve the problem of inferring the values of agents in a dominant-strategy mechanism from: the social choice function implemented by the mechanism and the per-unit prices paid by the agents (the agent bids are not observed). For single-dimensional agents, this inference problem is a multi-dimensional inversion of the payment identity and is feasible only if the payment identity is uniquely invertible. The inversion is unique for single-unit proportional weights social choice functions (common, for example, in bandwidth allocation); and its inverse can be found efficiently. This inversion is not unique for social choice functions that exhibit complementarities. Of independent interest, we extend a result of Rosen (1965), that the Nash equilbria of “concave games” are unique and pure, to an alternative notion of concavity based on Gale and Nikaido (1965).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publication31st Annual ACM-SIAM Symposium on Discrete Algorithms, SODA 2020
EditorsShuchi Chawla
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)9781611975994
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020
Event31st Annual ACM-SIAM Symposium on Discrete Algorithms, SODA 2020 - Salt Lake City, United States
Duration: Jan 5 2020Jan 8 2020

Publication series

NameProceedings of the Annual ACM-SIAM Symposium on Discrete Algorithms


Conference31st Annual ACM-SIAM Symposium on Discrete Algorithms, SODA 2020
CountryUnited States
CitySalt Lake City

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Mathematics(all)

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