Picasso's Bull, December 1945 -- January 1946.
ECON 2099: Mechanism Design and Approximation
Autumn, 2014, Harvard U.

Required Textbook: Hartline, Mechanism Design and Approximation, manuscript, 2014.
Lectures: MW 2:30-4pm, Sever Hall, room 202.
Instructor: Jason D. Hartline
Office Hours: Littauer 315, TBA.
Announcements and Discussion: http://piazza.com/harvard/fall2014/econ2099/home.

Synopsis: This course studies the design of mechanisms to mediate the interaction of strategic individuals so that desirable outcomes are attained. A central theme will be the tradeoff between optimality of an objective such as revenue or welfare 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 and delicate optimal mechanism. The class focuses on techniques for performing this analysis, economic conclusions, and consequences for practice. The class will follow the textbook manuscript at: http://jasonhartline.com/MDnA/.

Prerequisites: Prior experience with algorithms or game theory is recommended.

Grading: 60% problem sets, 40% research project, 10% classroom participation (bonus).

Homework Policy: Homeworks are to be done in pairs. Both students must contribute to the solution of all problems. One copy of the assignment should be turned in with the names of both students on it. Both students will receive the same grade. You may consult the text book and course notes when answering homework questions; you must not consult the Internet or research papers.

Tentative Schedule: