Abstract:
Information diffusion and influence maximization are important and extensively studied problems in social networks. Various models and algorithms have been proposed in the literature in the context of the influence maximization problem. A crucial assumption in all these studies is that the influence probabilities are known to the social planner. This assumption is unrealistic since the influence probabilities are usually private information of the individual agents and strategic agents may not reveal them truthfully. Moreover, the influence probabilities could vary significantly with the type of the information flowing in the network and the time at which the information is propagating in the network. In this paper, we use a mechanism design approach to elicit influence probabilities truthfully from the agents. We first work with a simple model, the influencer model, where we assume that each user knows the level of influence she has on her neighbors but this is private information. In the second model, the influencer-influencee model, which is more realistic, we determine influence probabilities by combining the probability values reported by the influencers and influencees. In the context of the first model, we present how VCG (Vickrey-Clarke-Groves) mechanisms could be used for truthfully eliciting the influence probabilities. Our main contribution is to design a scoring rule based mechanism in the context of the influencer-influencee model. In particular, we show the incentive compatibility of the mechanisms when the scoring rules are proper and propose a reverse weighted scoring rule based mechanism as an appropriate mechanism to use. We also discuss briefly the implementation of such a mechanism in viral marketing applications.

Abstract:
Networks such as organizational network of a global company play an important role in a variety of knowledge management and information diffusion tasks. The nodes in these networks correspond to individuals who are self-interested. The topology of these networks often plays a crucial role in deciding the ease and speed with which certain tasks can be accomplished using these networks. Consequently, growing a stable network having a certain topology is of interest. Motivated by this, we study the following important problem: given a certain desired network topology, under what conditions would best response (link addition/deletion) strategies played by self-interested agents lead to formation of a pairwise stable network with only that topology. We study this interesting reverse engineering problem by proposing a natural model of recursive network formation. In this model, nodes enter the network sequentially and the utility of a node captures principal determinants of network formation, namely (1) benefits from immediate neighbors, (2) costs of maintaining links with immediate neighbors, (3) benefits from indirect neighbors, (4) bridging benefits, and (5) network entry fee. Based on this model, we analyze relevant network topologies such as star graph, complete graph, bipartite Turan graph, and multiple stars with interconnected centers, and derive a set of sufficient conditions under which these topologies emerge as pairwise stable networks. We also study the social welfare properties of the above topologies.

Abstract:
Classical results in voting theory show that strategic manipulation by voters is inevitable if a voting rule simultaneously satisfy certain desirable properties. Motivated by this, we study the relevant question of how often a voting rule is manipulable. It is well known that elections with a large number of voters are rarely manipulable under impartial culture (IC) assumption. However, the manipulability of voting rules when the number of candidates is large has hardly been addressed in the literature and our paper focuses on this problem. First, we propose two properties (1) asymptotic strategy-proofness and (2) asymptotic collusion-proofness, with respect to new voters, which makes the two notions more relevant from the perspective of computational problem of manipulation. In addition to IC, we explore a new culture of society where all score vectors of the candidates are equally likely. This new notion has its motivation in computational social choice and we call it impartial scores culture (ISC) assumption. We study asymptotic strategy-proofness and asymptotic collusion-proofness for plurality, veto, $k$-approval, and Borda voting rules under IC as well as ISC assumptions. Specifically, we prove bounds for the fraction of manipulable profiles when the number of candidates is large. Our results show that the size of the coalition and the tie-breaking rule play a crucial role in determining whether or not a voting rule satisfies the above two properties.

Abstract:
The current art in optimal combinatorial auctions is limited to handling the case of single units of multiple items, with each bidder bidding on exactly one bundle (single minded bidders). This paper extends the current art by proposing an optimal auction for procuring multiple units of multiple items when the bidders are single minded. The auction minimizes the cost of procurement while satisfying Bayesian incentive compatibility and interim individual rationality. Under appropriate regularity conditions, this optimal auction also satisfies dominant strategy incentive compatibility.

Abstract:
Inspired by the recent developments in the field of Spectrum Auctions, we have tried to provide a comprehensive framework for the complete procedure of Spectrum Licensing. We have identified the various issues the Governments need to decide upon while designing the licensing procedure and what are the various options available in each issue. We also provide an in depth study of how each of this options impact the overall procedure along with theoretical and practical results from the past. Lastly we argue as to how we can combine the positives two most widely used Spectrum Auctions mechanisms into the Hybrid Multiple Round Auction mechanism being proposed by us.

Abstract:
The margin of victory of an election is a useful measure to capture the robustness of an election outcome. It also plays a crucial role in determining the sample size of various algorithms in post election audit, polling etc. In this work, we present efficient sampling based algorithms for estimating the margin of victory of elections. More formally, we introduce the \textsc{$(c, \epsilon, \delta)$--Margin of Victory} problem, where given an election $\mathcal{E}$ on $n$ voters, the goal is to estimate the margin of victory $M(\mathcal{E})$ of $\mathcal{E}$ within an additive factor of $c MoV(\mathcal{E})+\epsilon n$. We study the \textsc{$(c, \epsilon, \delta)$--Margin of Victory} problem for many commonly used voting rules including scoring rules, approval, Bucklin, maximin, and Copeland$^{\alpha}.$ We observe that even for the voting rules for which computing the margin of victory is NP-Hard, there may exist efficient sampling based algorithms, as observed in the cases of maximin and Copeland$^{\alpha}$ voting rules.

Abstract:
Nodes in an ad hoc wireless network incur certain costs for forwarding packets since packet forwarding consumes the resources of the nodes. If the nodes are rational, free packet forwarding by the nodes cannot be taken for granted and incentive based protocols are required to stimulate cooperation among the nodes. Existing incentive based approaches are based on the VCG (Vickrey-Clarke-Groves) mechanism which leads to high levels of incentive budgets and restricted applicability to only certain topologies of networks. Moreover, the existing approaches have only focused on unicast and multicast. Motivated by this, we propose an incentive based broadcast protocol that satisfies Bayesian incentive compatibility and minimizes the incentive budgets required by the individual nodes. The proposed protocol, which we call {\em BIC-B} (Bayesian incentive compatible broadcast) protocol, also satisfies budget balance. We also derive a necessary and sufficient condition for the ex-post individual rationality of the BIC-B protocol. The {\em BIC-B} protocol exhibits superior performance in comparison to a dominant strategy incentive compatible broadcast protocol.

Abstract:
In pay-per click sponsored search auctions which are currently extensively used by search engines, the auction for a keyword involves a certain number of advertisers (say k) competing for available slots (say m) to display their ads. This auction is typically conducted for a number of rounds (say T). There are click probabilities mu_ij associated with each agent-slot pairs. The goal of the search engine is to maximize social welfare of the advertisers, that is, the sum of values of the advertisers. The search engine does not know the true values advertisers have for a click to their respective ads and also does not know the click probabilities mu_ij s. A key problem for the search engine therefore is to learn these click probabilities during the T rounds of the auction and also to ensure that the auction mechanism is truthful. Mechanisms for addressing such learning and incentives issues have recently been introduced and are aptly referred to as multi-armed-bandit (MAB) mechanisms. When m = 1, characterizations for truthful MAB mechanisms are available in the literature and it has been shown that the regret for such mechanisms will be O(T^{2/3}). In this paper, we seek to derive a characterization in the realistic but non-trivial general case when m > 1 and obtain several interesting results.

Abstract:
We consider the problem of devising incentive strategies for viral marketing of a product. In particular, we assume that the seller can influence penetration of the product by offering two incentive programs: a) direct incentives to potential buyers (influence) and b) referral rewards for customers who influence potential buyers to make the purchase (exploit connections). The problem is to determine the optimal timing of these programs over a finite time horizon. In contrast to algorithmic perspective popular in the literature, we take a mean-field approach and formulate the problem as a continuous-time deterministic optimal control problem. We show that the optimal strategy for the seller has a simple structure and can take both forms, namely, influence-and-exploit and exploit-and-influence. We also show that in some cases it may optimal for the seller to deploy incentive programs mostly for low degree nodes. We support our theoretical results through numerical studies and provide practical insights by analyzing various scenarios.

Abstract:
In the Possible Winner problem in computational social choice theory, we are given a set of partial preferences and the question is whether a distinguished candidate could be made winner by extending the partial preferences to linear preferences. Previous work has provided, for many common voting rules, fixed parameter tractable algorithms for the Possible Winner problem, with number of candidates as the parameter. However, the corresponding kernelization question is still open and in fact, has been mentioned as a key research challenge. In this paper, we settle this open question for many common voting rules. We show that the Possible Winner problem for maximin, Copeland, Bucklin, ranked pairs, and a class of scoring rules that include the Borda voting rule do not admit a polynomial kernel with the number of candidates as the parameter. We show however that the Coalitional Manipulation problem which is an important special case of the Possible Winner problem does admit a polynomial kernel for maximin, Copeland, ranked pairs, and a class of scoring rules that includes the Borda voting rule, when the number of manipulators is polynomial in the number of candidates. A significant conclusion of our work is that the Possible Winner problem is harder than the Coalitional Manipulation problem since the Coalitional Manipulation problem admits a polynomial kernel whereas the Possible Winner problem does not admit a polynomial kernel.