Optimal auctions vs. anonymous pricing: Beyond linear utility

Yiding Feng*, Jason D. Hartline, Yingkai Li

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The revenue optimal mechanism for selling a single item to agents with independent but non-identically distributed values is complex for agents with linear utility (Myerson, 1981) and has no closed-form characterization for agents with non-linear utility (cf. Alaei et al., 2012). Nonetheless, for linear utility agents satisfying a natural regularity property, Alaei et al. (2018) showed that simply posting an anonymous price is an e-approximation. We give a parameterization of the regularity property that extends to agents with non-linear utility and show that the approximation bound of anonymous pricing for regular agents approximately extends to agents that satisfy this approximate regularity property. We apply this approximation framework to prove that anonymous pricing is a constant approximation to the revenue optimal single-item auction for agents with public-budget utility, private-budget utility, and (a special case of) risk-averse utility.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalUnknown Journal
StatePublished - May 10 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

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