NC State University

Department of Computer Science Colloquia 2003-2004

A telecast from Duke U. as part of
Triangle Computer Science Distinguished Lecturer Series

Date:   Monday, November 17, 2003
Time:   4:00 (Talk), Telecast from Duke U.
Place:   313 EGRC, NCSU Centennial Campus (click for courtesy parking request)

Speaker:   Anna Karlin , University of Washington, Seattle

Mechanism Design for Fun and Profit

Abstract:   The emergence of the Internet as one of the most important arenas for resource sharing between parties with diverse and selfish interests has led to a number of fascinating and new algorithmic problems. In these problems, one must solicit the inputs to each computation from participants (or agents) whose goal is to manipulate the computation to their own advantage. Until fairly recently, failure models in computer science have not dealt the notion of selfish participants who "play by the rules" only when it fits them. To deal with this, algorithms must be designed so as to provide motivation to the participants to "play along".

Recent work in this area has drawn on ideas from game theory and microeconomics, and specifically from the field of mechanism design. The goal is to design protocols so that rational agents will be motivated to adhere to the protocol. A specific focus has been on truthful mechanisms in which selfish agents are motivated to reveal their true inputs. In this talk, we survey recent work in this exciting new area and present a number of interesting directions for future research.

Short Bio:   Anna Karlin received her Ph.D. from Stanford University in 1987. Before coming to the University of Washington, she spent 5 years as a researcher at (what was then) Digital Equipment Corporation's Systems Research Center. Her research is primarily in theoretical computer science: the design and analysis of algorithms, particularly probabilistic and online algorithms. Recently, she has been working at the interface between theory and other areas, such as operating systems, networks, distributed systems and information retrieval.

Her main passion other than her daughter Sophie, work, espresso, movies (and recently tango) is rock and roll music: playing and listening. Her main distinction in this domain is having formerly been part of "an obscure and very bad band of furry Palo Alto geeks" (according to the Rolling Stones) called Severe Tire Damage. STD was the first band to broadcast live over the Internet. Here in Seattle, she and a bunch of other people in the department get together to make noise semi-regularly (or at least she wishes they did).

Host (at NCSU):   Peter Wurman, Computer Science 

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