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An O(log log m) prophet inequality for subadditive combinatorial auctions

Dütting, Paul, Kesselheim, Thomas and Lucier, Brendan (2020) An O(log log m) prophet inequality for subadditive combinatorial auctions. In: Proceedings of the 61st Annual IEEE Symposium on Foundations of Computer Science. IEEE Computer Society, 306 - 317. ISBN 9781728196220

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Prophet inequalities compare the expected performance of an online algorithm for a stochastic optimization problem to the expected optimal solution in hindsight. They are a major alternative to classic worst-case competitive analysis, of particular importance in the design and analysis of simple (posted-price) incentive compatible mechanisms with provable approximation guarantees. A central open problem in this area concerns subadditive combinatorial auctions. Here n agents with subadditive valuation functions compete for the assignment of m items. The goal is to find an allocation of the items that maximizes the total value of the assignment. The question is whether there exists a prophet inequality for this problem that significantly beats the best known approximation factor of O(log m). We make major progress on this question by providing an O(log log m) prophet inequality. Our proof goes through a novel primal-dual approach. It is also constructive, resulting in an online policy that takes the form of static and anonymous item prices that can be computed in polynomial time given appropriate query access to the valuations. As an application of our approach, we construct a simple and incentive compatible mechanism based on posted prices that achieves an O(log log m) approximation to the optimal revenue for subadditive valuations under an item-independence assumption.

Item Type: Book Section
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2020 IEEE
Divisions: Mathematics
Subjects: Q Science > QA Mathematics
Date Deposited: 11 Sep 2020 08:30
Last Modified: 16 May 2024 05:54

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