Games, Economic Behavior, and the Internet
Information Science 6230
Cornell University, Fall 2013
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: Room 110, 301 College Avenue
Office hours: Thursdays 1-2pm, Rhodes 490.
Outline of Topics
(Caveat: This is a tentative outline, and may evolve through the duration of the semester.)
- Auctions on the Internet
Online Effort Elicitation: Incentives in Crowdsourcing
- 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
Other models and problems in contest design and effort elicitation; innovation races
Online crowdsourcing contests (Innocentive, TopCoder, ...)
Incentives in information elicitation
- Introduction to 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?
Incentives in social search
- Eliciting information from an expert
- The peer-prediction method
- Extending the peer-prediction model; improved mechanisms
Privacy and economic issues
- Information seeking on a social network: Incentives and network structure
- Incentive design in the DARPA challenge
- Sybil issues in social search
The course will be evaluated on the basis of the following:
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: In-class presentations; written summaries: 30%.
(20% credit for your own presentation, 10% for written summaries in other presentations. Attendance is mandatory for student presentations and absence will carry a penalty.)
- 2 assignments: 15%
- 2 short summaries (2 pages) of any 2 relevant seminars in IS/CS/Econ over the semester. 10%
- 2 notes/`blog posts' about economic issues on the Internet. 10%