Games, Economic Behavior, and the Internet
Information Science 6230
Cornell University, Fall 2014
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.
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.
Online Effort Elicitation: Incentives in Crowdsourcing
Contests on the Web
Outline of Topics
(Caveat: This is a tentative outline, and may evolve through the duration of the semester.)
- Auctions on the Internet
- Introduction to auction theory
- First, second price sealed bid, and Dutch and English auctions
- Private and interdependent valuations; the winner's curse
- EBay auctions and bidder behavior
- Online ad auctions: The Generalized Second Price (GSP) auction for sponsored search advertising
Papers: Taylor'95; Glazer-Hassin'88; Ghosh-McAfee'12; Moldovanu-Sela-Shi'07.
Some additional material on online crowdsourcing contests
Online Collaborative Problem Solving
- Introduction to the theory of contest design
- A basic model for effort elicitation via contests
- Equilibrium analysis for a winner-take-all contest; comparative statics.
- How should a contest be structured?
- Equilibrium analysis for rank-order mechanisms
- Contest design: Optimal rank-order mechanisms
- Other models and problems in contest design and effort elicitation; innovation races
- Empirical study of Polymath project:
- Theoretical problems surrounding incentives in collaborative work:
- Experimental studies of disclosure policy and outcomes in open innovation
Incentive Issues in Online Labor Markets
- Information and effort elicitation with unobservable output
- Empirical and experimental studies in online crowdwork
- Structure of worker-task assigments in crowdsourcing markets
- Some additional material relevant to online labor:
Economics of Online Personal Data
- Introduction to privacy issues online
- User preferences and behavior in privacy choice
- Preferences across different domains: Online behavioral advertising; mobile applications
- Consequences of data sharing
- Additional material on privacy and economic models
Surveys: Acquisti'10; Pai-Roth'13
Papers: Carrascal et al'13;
Taylor'04; Kang et al'14
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.
- Class project: 35%
- Research papers---presentations; discussions; written summaries: 40%
(30% credit for your own presentations, 10% for participation in other presentations. Attendance is mandatory for student presentations and absence will carry a penalty.)
- 2 homeworks: 20%
- A note/`blog post' about economic issues on the Internet: 5%