Saturday, October 20, 2018

Centralized Admissions for Engineering Colleges in India

Yesterday I had the opportunity to hear Yash Kanoria discuss the implementation and operation of a centralized college admissions system for engineering colleges in India.  It replaces a semi-centralized process that left some seats unfilled (when IIT and non-IIT seats were allocated to the same people).

There are some novel constraints that have to be satisfied, some of which can theoretically present intractable problems, but in practice they don't.

An appendix on history and background is a quick education in Indian education.

Below is a link to the paper, which seems to be a fine example of market design as economic engineering, which solved some important problems and has now operated successfully for several years. There are also problems (e.g. concerning vacancies in non-IITs) left to solve...:

Centralized Admissions for Engineering Colleges in India
by Surender Baswana, Partha Pratim Chakrabarti, Sharat Chandran, Yashodhan Kanoria, Utkarsh Patange

Abstract We designed and implemented a new joint seat allocation process for undergraduate admissions to over 500 programs spread across 80 technical universities in India, including the prestigious Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs). Our process is based on the well known Deferred Acceptance algorithm, but complex affirmative action seat reservations led us to make a number of algorithmic innovations, including (i) a carefully constructed heuristic for incorporating non-nested common quotas that span multiple programs, (ii) a method to utilize unfilled reserved seats with no modifications to the core software, and (iii) a robust approach to reduce variability in the number of reserved category candidates admitted, while retaining fairness. Our new seat allocation process went live in 2015, and based on its success, including significant and provable reduction in vacancies, it has remained in successful use since, with continuing improvements.

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