Obtaining costly unverifiable valuations from a single agent

Erel Segal-Halevi, Shani Alkoby, David Sarne

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

A principal needs to elicit the true value of an object she owns from an agent who has a unique ability to compute this information. The principal cannot verify the correctness of the information, so she must incentivize the agent to report truthfully. Previous works coped with this unverifiability by employing two or more information agents and awarding them according to the correlation between their reports. We show that, in a common value setting, the principal can elicit the true information even from a single information agent, and even when computing the value is costly for the agent. Moreover, the principal’s expense is only slightly higher than the cost of computing the value. For this purpose we provide three alternative mechanisms, all providing the same above guarantee, highlighting the advantages and disadvantages in each. Extensions of the basic mechanism include adaptations for cases such as when the principal and the agent value the object differently, when the object is divisible and when the agent’s cost of computation is unknown. Finally, we deal with the case where delivering the information to the principal incurs a cost. Here we show that substantial savings can be obtained in a multi-object setting.

Original languageEnglish
Article number46
JournalAutonomous Agents and Multi-Agent Systems
Volume34
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020, Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature.

Funding

The project was initiated thanks to an idea of Tomer Sharbaf, who also participated in the preliminary version of this paper [38]. This paper benefited a lot from discussions with the participants of the industrial engineering seminar in Ariel University, the game theory seminar in Bar Ilan University, the game theory seminar in the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the game theory seminar in the Technion, and the Israeli artificial intelligence day. We are particularly grateful to Igal Milchtaich and Sergiu Hart for their helpful mathematical ideas. We are also grateful to the anonymous reviewers of AAMAS for their helpful comments. This research was partially supported by the Israel Science Foundation (Grant No. 1162/17). The project was initiated thanks to an idea of Tomer Sharbaf, who also participated in the preliminary version of this paper []. This paper benefited a lot from discussions with the participants of the industrial engineering seminar in Ariel University, the game theory seminar in Bar Ilan University, the game theory seminar in the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the game theory seminar in the Technion, and the Israeli artificial intelligence day. We are particularly grateful to Igal Milchtaich and Sergiu Hart for their helpful mathematical ideas. We are also grateful to the anonymous reviewers of AAMAS for their helpful comments. This research was partially supported by the Israel Science Foundation (Grant No. 1162/17).

FundersFunder number
Bar-Ilan University
Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Israel Science Foundation1162/17
Technion-Israel Institute of Technology
Ariel University

    Keywords

    • Asymmetric information
    • Information disclosure
    • Mechanism design
    • Principal–agent problem

    Fingerprint

    Dive into the research topics of 'Obtaining costly unverifiable valuations from a single agent'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this