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Allocating Goods, Bads, and Mixed: Fairness and Efficiency Through Competitiveness (via Zoom)
Abstract: Fair division is the problem of allocating a set of items among agents in a fair and efficient manner. This age-old problem, mentioned even in the Bible, arises naturally in a wide range of real-life settings, for example, school seat assignments, partnership dissolution, sharing of satellites, and dividing costs for climate resilience. Division based on competitive equilibrium (CE) has emerged as one of the best mechanisms for this problem. The existence and computability of CE have been extensively studied when all items are disposable goods, while the problem is less explored when some of them are nondisposable chores (bads). In this talk, I will discuss recent algorithmic advances on the computation of CE when each item may be a good, a chore, or both (mixed).
I will first consider the case of additive valuations, where when all items are goods, the CE set is well-known to be captured by convex programming formulations and thereby forms a convex set. In sharp contrast, with chores, the CE set may be nonconvex and disconnected. I will discuss how to handle this non-convexity through a novel exterior-point method to find an approximate CE in polynomial time (FPTAS). This method seems general enough to work with any mathematical formulation that optimizes a coordinate-wise monotone function over linear constraints. Finally, I will discuss extensions to general utility functions, and recent developments on the exchange setting (barter system).
Based on joint works with Shant Boodaghians, Bhaskar Ray Chaudhury, Jugal Garg, and Peter McGlaughlin.
Bio: Ruta Mehta is an Assistant Professor of Computer Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Prior to joining UIUC, she was a postdoctoral fellow at Simons Institute, UC Berkeley, and at College of Computing, Georgia Tech. She did her Ph.D. from the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, India. Her research interests lie in theoretical computer science and its interface with economics, games theory, fair division, and learning. For her research, she has received the NSF CAREER Award, the Simons-Berkeley Research Fellowship, and the Best Postdoctoral Award (given by CoC@GT). Her Ph.D. thesis won the ACM India Doctoral Dissertation Award and the IIT-Bombay Excellence in Ph.D. Thesis Award.