Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Economic Design Conference

I am at the Society of Economic Design conference. Mohammad organized an invited session on Sponsored Search which included talks by Robert Kleinberg (he spoke about on his result with Aaron Archer on characterization of truthful auctions, the result looked really intricate) and Michael Wellman (who spoke about empirical game-theoretic analysis that seems quite relevant to some of the things I think about); I, an outsider, was happy to get backdoor access to this conf of Economists. I discovered there is a lot in common between CS and Econ theorists. They too have "reductions": these reductions put some structure on mechanisms so you can reason about whole class of them using a generic one. I met several economists like Utku Unver who seemed really open to interaction with algorithms researchers. There was an hour long talk by Susan Athey who is moving to spend some time at Microsoft Research; her talk was tutorial-esque and she was somewhat zealous in getting the M/S message out. Still it is good to see Economists getting interested in internet ad auctions research (After my talk, someone said, "Wow, I did not know there was so much thinking behind that text on the right side of a search page!"). I was curious to see if Economists had any offbeat new topics for research. A candidate seems to be neuroeconomics: the study of neural activity around economic decisions taken by people.


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