Bidding Languages for Combinatorial Auctions

Craig Boutilier
Department of Computer Science
University of Toronto
Toronto, ON M5S 3H5

Holger H. Hoos
Department of Computer Science
University of British Columbia
Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z4

Combinatorial auctions provide a valuable mechanism for the allocation of goods in settings where buyer valuations exhibit complex structure with respect to substitutability and complementarity. Most algorithms are designed to work with explicit bids for concrete bundles of goods. However, logical bidding languages allow the expression of complex utility functions in a natural and concise way. We introduce a new, generalized language where bids are given by propositional formulae whose subformulae can be annotated with prices. This language allows bidder utilities to be formulated more naturally and concisely than existing languages. Furthermore, we outline a general algorithmic technique for winner determination for auctions that use this bidding language.

To appear, IJCAI-01

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