Joint Colloquium Distinguished Lecture Series

Towards Constructive Economics

Constantinos Daskalakis

Wednesday, October 19, 2011
306 Soda Hall (HP Auditorium)
4:00 - 5:00 pm

Constantinos Daskalakis
Professor, Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences, MIT

Downloadable pdf


Economics is rich in existence theorems, such as Nash's theorem on the existence of equilibria in games and the Arrow-Debreu theorem on the existence of equilibrium prices; however, recent work by computer scientists has revealed that many of these theorems cannot be made constructive.  One exception is von Neumann's minimax theorem for  zero-sum games, which according to Aumann are "one of the few areas in game theory, and indeed in the social sciences, where a fairly sharp, unique prediction is made." Another is Myerson's revenue-optimal single-item auction; this is the auction we encounter when we buy an item on eBay.

In this talk I present two results that generalize these two isolated exceptions to broader domains.  In particular, the minimax theorem can be generalized to a certain broad class of multiplayer zero-sum games on networks, while Myerson's result can be generalized --- in a computationally meaningful way --- to multi-item auctions. 

(Based on joint work with Yang Cai, Christos Papadimitriou, and Matt Weinberg)


Constantinos (or Costis) Daskalakis is an Assistant Professor of EECS at MIT. He completed his undergraduate studies in Greece, at the National Technical University of Athens, and obtained a PhD in Computer Science from UC Berkeley. After Berkeley he was a postdoctoral researcher in Microsoft Research New England, and since 2009 he has been at the faculty of MIT. His research interests lie in Algorithmic Game Theory and Applied Probability, in particular computational aspects of markets and the Internet, social networks, and computational problems in Biology.

Costis has been honored with a 2007 Microsoft Graduate Research Fellowship, the 2008 Game Theory and Computer Science Prize from the Game Theory Society, the 2008 ACM Doctoral Dissertation Award, an NSF Career Award, a 2010 Sloan Foundation Fellowship in Computer Science, the 2011 SIAM Outstanding Paper Prize, and the MIT Ruth and Joel Spira Award for Distinguished Teaching.

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