Thursday, July 28, 2016


This week I report from Maastricht in the Netherlands from the GAMES 2016, the 5th World Congress of the Game Theory Society. By having their congress every four years, everyone who is anyone in the game theory community makes a strong effort to be here, including three Nobel laureates, Robert Aumann, Roger Myerson and Eric Maskin. The conference has about 750 participants and up to 19 parallel sessions.

This year the conference is co-located with the Economics and Computation conference that comes more from the CS community. By co-located we are sharing the same buildings and many of the events, effectively one larger conference (which means in reality 21 parallel sessions).

EC keeps growing, accepting 80 papers out of 242 submissions, all of which are freely downloadable.

My favorite EC talk was the best student paper, Deferred Acceptance with Compensation Chains by
Piotr Dworczak, a graduate student in the Stanford Business School. He gives an algorithm for finding stable matchings with the property that every stable matching can be found by changing the order that the agents get to choose. The paper Which Is the Fairest (Rent Division) of Them All? by
Kobi Gal, Moshe Mash, Ariel Procaccia and Yair Zick won best paper.

Also a shout out to the talk Cadet-Branch Matching in a Quasi-Linear Labor Market solely authored by Ravi Jagadeesan, a rising junior undergraduate at Harvard. I went to grad school with Ravi's mother Lalita, and yes that makes me feel old.

Tim Roughgarden gave the Kalai prize talk for his work on Intrinsic Robustness of the Price of Anarchy. The talk, attended by a good number of the game theorists, gave a general approach to generalizing bounds price of anarchy results to broader classes of equilibria. Tim followed Keith Chen who heads the analytic team for Uber and discussed how game theory and optimization ideas are driving a major e-commerce company. No major surprises but here's one trade secret: Uber covers its maps with hexagons while Lyft uses squares.

All is all a great week, with packed schedules and crowded activities, but great to see all these game theorists and computer scientists talking with each other.

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