A brief account of the Game Theory related tracks in WWW 2011

This is certainly not a complete view of the conference WWW 2011, since it had almost 9 parallel sessions each day. I’m sure there had been many other interesting papers, demos, workshops, tutorials in this conference. However, I would give an outline of the sessions I attended, and have significant overlap with Microeconomics in Web applications. There were two sessions on Monetization and one on E-Commerce, which discussed the state of the art economic research on the World Wide Web applications. There were a few tutorials and posters on monetization as well. My account is not in the temporal order as they happened, rather in the order of interest.

The keynote address by Cristos Papadimitriou was great as usual. He feels that the Internet is everything today, and it also is transforming Economics. The title of his address was ‘Algorithmic Economics’, which is suggestive enough about what he was going to talk. Starting with Games and Complexity, and his seminal results with Costis Daskalakis on the hardness of Nash equilibrium (NE), he gave the intuitions why equilibrium makes sense. I scribed his session quite carefully, a good remark from (Myerson 1999) was quoted by Christos: “The universality of Nash equilibrium lies in the foundations of modern economic thought”. He gave an overview of the approximation algorithms, and presented some classes of games for which it is easy to find the NE. The second topic was the price equilibria in markets, which brought in the Arrow-Debreu model and the results that work on convex cost functions. The next topic in the talk was the Price of Anarchy, and he illustrated it nicely using the Braess’s Paradox (without naming it). The last topic was that of Mechanism Design, and he seemed to be excited about this area. His presentation was mostly from a complexity theorist’s view of the domain, and the results on approximations in the truthful mechanisms were presented. However, if the agents know a mechanism to be incentive compatible, there is no reason to deviate, and hence how complexity plays a role there was not very clearly told. Maybe he will tell that story in some other keynote! The questions that were asked involved the complexity in cooperative games, and on the assumptions of rationality and intelligence. This is interesting since it has been debated many times in other talks and tutorials of this conference, that many economic experiments gave results where people do not always behave intelligently.

The other two keynotes by ‘People’s President’ Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam and Sir Tim Berners-Lee were equally interesting. Dr. Kalam gave a very inspiring speech (in his incredible own style) requesting the WWW community to extend the fruits of their research to poor people. Tim Berners-Lee gave an overview of the World Wide Web and its trajectory over the years from the time he founded it.

Monetization 1, 2 and E-Commerce sessions were among the sessions involving economic thoughts in the WWW. In the Monetization 1 track, there were 3 papers. ‘An Expressive Mechanism for Auctions on the Web’ was presented by Paul Duetting, followed by Arpita Ghosh presenting her idea of ‘Incentivizing High-quality User-Generated Content’, which was well presented and introduces a few new notions, e.g., the notion of Free-entry Nash Equilibrium. The last talk of this session was by L. Elisa Celis presenting ‘A Simple Sequential Screening Mechanism’ showing where this mechanism works effectively and outperforms some known auction mechanisms.

The other interesting session was the E-Commerce, where the 3 papers titled: “Pay as you Browse: Microcomputations as Micropayments in Web-based Services”, “Consideration Set Generation in Commerce Search”, and “Towards a Theory Model for Product Search” were presented. While the last paper was adjudged the best paper of the conference, the other works of this and other sessions were worthy contributions, which certainly brings out the importance of monetization in Web applications.

There were many other good sessions, instead of giving details of them, I better list them here. The full details are available in the conference webpage, and will soon be available online. The sessions are: Monetization II, Temporal Dynamics, Social Network Analysis.

The tutorials that preceded the main conference also had interesting content including the tutorials titled ‘Game Theoretic Models for Social Network Analysis’, ‘Managing Crowdsourced Human Computation’, ‘Analytics and Predictive Models for Social Media’.

Though there were very little audience in the PhD symposium (partly because it was on the last day of the conference), where I had a presentation 🙂 , the topics were interesting as well.

Now the comments space is open for you. If you had been to this WWW, please feel free to add your account of the sessions you attended.


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