Saturday, April 30, 2011

Designing "hidden markets"--Sven Seuken

Yesterday Sven Seuken defended his dissertation, which is on the interface of CS and Economics. In particular, he is interested in designing both computerized marketplaces and the user interfaces through which participants will interact.

The essay that was his job market paper concerns a practical business idea for a centrally administered marketplace for peer-to-peer computer backup services that have to be consumed in bundles (e.g. bandwidth and memory are complements), but may be offered in different proportions by different users, at market prices that are posted through a user interface that makes it easy for a consumer to see what backup he requires, and what combinations of resources he can offer to the system to pay for his own services. A customer for the backup service must offer backup services to other customers, and the  centralized server keeps track of what resources are being used, and sets relative prices for different resources that are “hidden” in that they are revealed not as numerical prices, but as tradeoffs between backup capacity a consumer demands and various ways that he can supply the system with resources from his own computer (upload and download bandwidth and memory, and hours a day connected to the web).

That is, this is a market with complements, in which both bids and asks must be for packages of services, but in which customers can participate using a simple interface.

Market design itself is becoming a market with complementarities between economists and computer scientists. Sven may join his main advisor, David Parkes, in internalizing many of these complementarities himself. (The other members of his committee were Eric Horvitz, Yiling Chen, and me.) Since he is going to Zurich, he may also have the opportunity to join forces with Jacob Goeree and solidify a real center of market design there.

Welcome to the club, Sven.

1 comment:

Frank said...

Yeah, Goeree's group is rapidly expanding its stock of young researchers: