Friday, August 3, 2012

Self-confirming price-prediction strategies for simultaneous one-shot auctions

Abstract: Bidding in simultaneous auctions is challenging because an agent’s value for a good in one auction may depend on the outcome of other auctions; that is, bidders typically face an exposure problem. Given the gap in understanding (e.g., lack of game-theoretic solutions) of general simultaneous auction games, previous works have tackled the problem of how to bid in these games with heuristic strategies that employ probabilistic price predictions—so-called price-prediction strategies. We introduce a concept of self-confirming prices, and show that within an independent private value model, bidding optimally with respect to self-confirming price predictions is w.l.o.g. in equilibrium. In other words, Bayes-Nash equilibrium can be fully characterized as a profile of optimal price-prediction strategies with self-confirming predictions. We exhibit practical procedures to compute approximately optimal bids given a probabilistic price predicti! on, and near self-confirming price predictions given a price-prediction strategy. We call the output of our procedures self-confirming price-prediction (SCPP) strategies. An extensive empirical game-theoretic analysis demonstrates that SCPP strategies are effective in simultaneous auction games with both complementary and substitutable preference structures.

Impact: This work (a collaboration between Michigan and Brown) addresses a fundamental issue in automated trading: how to deal with multiple related markets at once. Our solution is justified by game-theoretic analysis, yet is computationally practical given a model of the bidding environment.

Conference: Twenty-Eighth Conference on Uncertainty in Artificial Intelligence, August 15-17, Catalina Island, USA.

Paper URL:

Submitted by Michael Wellman, Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Ethical education of engineering students

Paper Titles: "An Exploratory Investigation of the Ethical Behavior of Engineering Undergraduates," "Framing faculty and student discrepancies in engineering ethics education delivery" and "An assessment of engineering students’ curricular and co-curricular experiences and their ethical development"

Summary: Cindy Finelli, director of the Center for Research on Learning and Teaching in Engineering at U-M, and colleagues Donald Carpenter of Lawrence Technological University, Trevor Harding of California Polytechnic State University and Janel Sutkus of Carnegie Mellon University, have published two articles on research from their 2007 NSF grant on the curricular, co-curricular and environmental determinants of ethical development among engineering undergraduates. The articles were based upon data collected through a 4,000-student national survey and during visits to 18 engineering schools across the country. The team, known as the E3 Team (Exploring Ethical Decision Making in Engineering), recently received a second NSF grant to create a smaller version of the survey, which will be made available to any engineering school that wishes to study their own students’ level of ethical development by evaluating the effects of individual ethics interventions.

Impact: Measuring the incorporation of ethics into the education of engineering students.

Journal: Journal of Engineering Education. Published in print. April and July, 2012

Paper URLs:,

Submitted by Cindy Finelli, Director of the Center for Research on Learning and Teaching in Engineering and Research Associate Professor.