Exposing market mechanism design trade-offs via multi-objective evolutionary search


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Market mechanisms are a means by which resources in contention can be allocated between contending parties, both in human economies and those populated by software agents. Designing such mechanisms has traditionally been carried out by hand, and more recently by automation. Assessing these mechanisms typically involves them being evaluated with respect to multiple conflicting objectives, which can often be nonlinear, noisy, and expensive to compute. For typical performance objectives, it is known that designed mechanisms often fall short on being optimal across all objectives simultaneously. However, in all previous automated approaches, either only a single objective is considered, or else the multiple performance objectives are combined into a single objective. In this paper we do not aggregate objectives, instead considering a direct, novel application of multi-objective evolutionary algorithms (MOEAs) to the problem of automated mechanism design. This allows the automatic discovery of trade-offs that such objectives impose on mechanisms. We pose the problem of mechanism design, specifically for the class of linear redistribution mechanisms, as a naturally existing multi-objective optimisation problem. We apply a modified version of NSGA-II in order to design mechanisms within this class, given economically relevant objectives such as welfare and fairness. This application of NSGA-II exposes tradeoffs between objectives, revealing relationships between them that were otherwise unknown for this mechanism class. The understanding of the trade-off gained from the application of MOEAs can thus help practitioners with an insightful application of discovered mechanisms in their respective real/artificial markets. © 2013 IEEE.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication2013 IEEE Congress on Evolutionary Computation, CEC 2013
Number of pages8
ISBN (Electronic)9781479904549
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • automated mechanism design
  • fairness
  • market based interaction
  • redistribution
  • resource allocation
  • welfare


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