EECS 495: Mechanism Design

Quarter Offered

Fall : 3:30-4:50 TuTh ; Hartline


Mechanisms mediate the strategic interaction between individuals within computer systems and beyond. Participants in such a system may have an interest in the outcome of the system and may interact strategically so as to obtain a more desired outcome. Importantly the rules of these systems, which specify how the system outcome (output) is obtained from the actions (input) of participants of the system, must be carefully designed so that desirable outcomes are obtained even if participants strategize whenever it is in their interest.

This class combines the fields of algorithms and microeconomics to give a theory of mechanism design.  A central theme will be the tradeoff between optimality and other desirable properties such as simplicity, robustness, computational tractability, and practicality. This tradeoff will be quantified by a theory of approximation which measures the loss of performance of a simple, robust, and practical approximation mechanism in comparison to the complicated, delicate, and impractical optimal mechanism.

The class will follow the textbook manuscript at:

  • This course fulfills the Theory Depth requirement.

INSTRUCTOR: Prof. Jason Hartline