Thursday, June 15, 2006


This week I'm attending EC '06, The 7th ACM Conference on Electronic Commerce in Ann Arbor. The name does not completely fit the conference which focuses mostly on computer science issues in economic models (e.g. computing Nash Equilibria) and economic question related to computer science (e.g. Internet-related auctions, economic mechanisms that solve algorithmic problems). The conference draws a mostly computer science crowd from both the theory and AI communities. Not many economists and most of those from business schools. Some industry folk come but mostly CS researchers from the big internet companies.

So what is a nice complexity theorist like myself doing at a conference like this? I study the power of efficient models of computation and what is an economic market but just another model of computation.

This year's conference had a big emphasis on sponsored search auctions, those keywords you see on the right side of search results. Yahoo, Google and recently Microsoft all run various auction scheme where companies bid on keywords like "mp3 players." Finding the right models, bidding mechanisms and equilibria for these auctions continue to challenge researchers. EC had four submitted talks, an invited talk, a workshop including a panel, and a competition all on sponsored search.

The conference had no overhead projector, white or blackboards. A laptop powered every talk at EC, the first time I've seen that at any conference. However they still had paper proceedings though did talk about possibly eliminating them at future conferences.

EC broke their attendance records with 172 participants who came to the conference and/or one of the workshops. Next year EC will be at FCRC along with STOC, Complexity and many other conferences.


  1. The _Economist_ this week has an interesting article on emissions trading in Europe and some of the problems it has run into. Do you know if anyone in the ACM EC community or elsewhere in theory has looked at carbon trading markets? It seems like a major mechanism design problem that is being acted out right here and now.

  2. I attended the conference and here are my thoughts: