Fair Resource Allocation: From Theory to Practice

CS-ECON Seminar Series
Speaker Name
Alexsandros Psomas
Date and Time
Gross 304B
Lunch will be served.

We study the problem of fairly allocating a set of indivisible items among $n$ agents. Typically, the literature has focused on one-shot algorithms. In this talk we depart from this paradigm and allow items to arrive online. When an item arrives we must immediately and irrevocably allocate it to an agent. A paradigmatic example is that of food banks: food donations arrive, and must be delivered to nonprofit organizations such as food pantries and soup kitchens. Items are often perishable, which is why allocation decisions must be made quickly, and donated items are typically leftovers, leading to lack of information about items that will arrive in the future. Which recipient should a new donation go to? We approach this problem from different angles.

In the first part of the talk, we study the problem of minimizing the maximum envy between any two recipients, after all the goods have been allocated. We give a polynomial-time, deterministic and asymptotically optimal algorithm with vanishing envy, i.e. the maximum envy divided by the number of items T goes to zero as T goes to infinity. In the second part of the talk, we adopt and further develop an emerging paradigm called virtual democracy. We will take these ideas all the way to practice. In the last part of the talk I will present some results from an ongoing work on automating the decisions faced by a food bank called 412 Food Rescue, an organization in Pittsburgh that matches food donations with non-profit organizations.

Short Biography

Christos-Alexandros (Alex) Psomas is a postdoctoral researcher in the Computer Science Department at Carnegie Mellon University, hosted by Ariel Procaccia. He received his PhD in 2017 from the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences at UC Berkeley, under the supervision of Christos Papadimitriou. He is broadly interested in algorithmic economics, including topics such as algorithmic mechanism design, computational social choice, fair division and auction theory. During his PhD he spent two summers as a research intern at the International Computer Science Institute with Eric Friedman, a summer at Microsoft Research Redmond with Nikhil Devanur, and a summer as an instructor for the Discrete Mathematics and Probability Theory course at UC Berkeley. Prior to joining UC Berkeley, Alex received a M.Sc. in Logic, Algorithms and Computation from the University of Athens and a B.Sc. in Computer Science from Athens University of Economics and Business.

Vince Conitzer