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We address the problem of allocating a single divisible good to a number of agents. The agents have concave valuation functions parameterized by a scalar type. The agents report only the type. The goal is to find allocatively efficient, strategy proof, nearly budget balanced mechanisms within the Groves class. Near budget balance is attained by returning as much of the received payments as rebates to agents. Two performance criteria are of interest: the maximum ratio of budget surplus to efficient surplus, and the expected budget surplus, within the class of linear rebate functions. The goal is to minimize them. Assuming that the valuation functions are known, we show that both problems reduce to convex optimization problems, where the convex constraint sets are characterized by a continuum of half-plane constraints parameterized by the vector of reported types. We then propose a randomized relaxation of these problems by sampling constraints. The relaxed problem is a linear programming problem (LP). We then identify the number of samples needed for “near-feasibility” of the relaxed constraint set. Under some conditions on the valuation function, we show that value of the approximate LP is close to the optimal value. Simulation results show significant improvements of our proposed method over the Vickrey-Clarke-Groves (VCG) mechanism without rebates. In the special case of indivisible goods, the mechanisms in this paper fall back to those proposed by Moulin, by Guo and Conitzer, and by Gujar and Narahari, without any need for randomization. Extension of the proposed mechanisms to situations when the valuation functions are not known to the central planner are also discussed.
Automation Science and Engineering, IEEE Transactions on (Volume:8 , Issue: 3 )
Date of Publication: July 2011