Games, Economic Behavior, and the Internet

Information Science 6230
Cornell University, Fall 2014

Mondays 10:10am-12:05pm

Hollister Hall 368

Arpita Ghosh

There are many settings on the Internet where agents make decisions that involve responding to incentives, trading off costs and benefits, or strategizing about the behavior of other agents. Examples include online auctions (on Ebay, or advertising auctions); voting---either explicitly, such as ratings on Reddit or implicitly, as in search engine rankings; crowdsourcing contests as in TopCoder or Innocentive; labor markets as in Mechanical Turk or ODesk; peer-to-peer file sharing; social lending platforms, and a vast range of social computing systems.

This course will examine models and theoretical foundations---such as information elicitation, contest design, auctions, matching markets, public goods games---that are relevant to economic behavior on the Internet, as well as discuss the design and behavior of actual systems.

The course will consist of a combination of lectures by the instructor, and seminar-style presentation of research papers by students. Assignments of papers to students for presentation will be made in the first few weeks of class.

Course Information

Instructor: Arpita Ghosh

Office: 207 Gates Hall


Office hours: Tuesdays 11:30am-12:30pm

Important: Please note that the first day of class is September 8th, due to the university holiday for Labor Day on September 1st.

Outline of Topics

(Caveat: This is a tentative outline, and may evolve through the duration of the semester.)

  1. Auctions on the Internet
  2. Online Effort Elicitation: Incentives in Crowdsourcing
  3. Contests on the Web
    Online Collaborative Problem Solving
    Incentive Issues in Online Labor Markets

  4. Economics of Online Personal Data


The course will be evaluated on the basis of the following components. (Note, though, that this is only a rough guideline, and may change as assignments are adjusted to reflect the interests and abilities of the class). Note that class attendance is a critical component of the course since most learning will occur in class. While not explicitly assigned a percentage of total course credit, poor attendance will result in a penalty in the final grade.