Maximizing Efficiency in Dynamic Matching Markets

Itai Ashlagi, Maximilien Burq, Patrick Jaillet, Amin Saberi

We study the problem of matching agents who arrive at a marketplace over time and leave after d time periods. Agents can only be matched while they are present in the marketplace. Each pair of agents can yield a different match value, and the planner's goal is to maximize the total value over a finite time horizon. We study matching algorithms that perform well over any sequence of arrivals when there is no a priori information about the match values or arrival times. Our main contribution is a 1/4-competitive algorithm. The algorithm randomly selects a subset of agents who will wait until right before their departure to get matched, and maintains a maximum-weight matching with respect to the other agents. The primal-dual analysis of the algorithm hinges on a careful comparison between the initial dual value associated with an agent when it first arrives, and the final value after d time steps. It is also shown that no algorithm is 1/2-competitive. We extend the model to the case in which departure times are drawn i.i.d from a distribution with non-decreasing hazard rate, and establish a 1/8-competitive algorithm in this setting. Finally we show on real-world data that a modified version of our algorithm performs well in practice.

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