Practical algorithms and experimentally validated incentives for equilibrium-based fair division (A-CEEI)

Eric Budish, Ruiquan Gao, Abraham Othman, Aviad Rubinstein, Qianfan Zhang

Approximate Competitive Equilibrium from Equal Incomes (A-CEEI) is an equilibrium-based solution concept for fair division of discrete items to agents with combinatorial demands. In theory, it is known that in asymptotically large markets: 1. For incentives, the A-CEEI mechanism is Envy-Free-but-for-Tie-Breaking (EF-TB), which implies that it is Strategyproof-in-the-Large (SP-L). 2. From a computational perspective, computing the equilibrium solution is unfortunately a computationally intractable problem (in the worst-case, assuming $\textsf{PPAD}\ne \textsf{FP}$). We develop a new heuristic algorithm that outperforms the previous state-of-the-art by multiple orders of magnitude. This new, faster algorithm lets us perform experiments on real-world inputs for the first time. We discover that with real-world preferences, even in a realistic implementation that satisfies the EF-TB and SP-L properties, agents may have surprisingly simple and plausible deviations from truthful reporting of preferences. To this end, we propose a novel strengthening of EF-TB, which dramatically reduces the potential for strategic deviations from truthful reporting in our experiments. A (variant of) our algorithm is now in production: on real course allocation problems it is much faster, has zero clearing error, and has stronger incentive properties than the prior state-of-the-art implementation.

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