Robust Analysis of Auction Equilibria

Jason D. Hartline (Northwestern University)

May 24, 2022, 11:00–12:30


Room Auditorium 4

Economic Theory Seminar


Equilibria in auctions can be very difficult to analyze beyond the symmetric environments where revenue equivalence renders the analysis straightforward. This paper takes a robust approach to evaluating the equilibria of auctions. Rather than identify the equilibria of an auction under specific environments, it considers min-max analysis where an auction is evaluated according to the worst environment and worst equilibrium in that environment. It identifies a non-equilibrium property of auctions that governs whether or not their worst-case equilibria are good for welfare and revenue. This property is easy to analyze, can be refined from data, and composes across markets where multiple auctions are run simultaneously. Joint work with Darrell Hoy and Sam Taggart.