Computational Efficiency Requires Simple Taxation

  • Shahar Dobzinski
  • Published 2016 in
    2016 IEEE 57th Annual Symposium on Foundations of…


We characterize the communication complexity of truthful mechanisms. Our departure point is the well known taxation principle. The taxation principle asserts that every truthful mechanism can be interpreted as follows: every player is presented with a menu that consists of a price for each bundle (the prices depend only on the valuations of the other players). Each player is allocated a bundle that maximizes his profit according to this menu. We define the taxation complexity of a truthful mechanism to be the logarithm of the maximum number of menus that may be presented to a player. Our main finding is that in general the taxation complexity essentially equals the communication complexity. The proof consists of two main steps. First, we prove that for rich enough domains the taxation complexity is at most the communication complexity. We then show that the taxation complexity is much smaller than the communication complexity only in "pathological" cases and provide a formal description of these extreme cases. Next, we study mechanisms that access the valuations via value queries only. In this setting we establish that the menu complexity - a notion that was already studied in several different contexts - characterizes the number of value queries that the mechanism makes in exactly the same way that the taxation complexity characterizes the communication complexity. Our approach yields several applications, including strengthening the solution concept with low communication overhead, fast computation of prices, and hardness of approximation by computationally efficient truthful mechanisms.

DOI: 10.1109/FOCS.2016.30

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@article{Dobzinski2016ComputationalER, title={Computational Efficiency Requires Simple Taxation}, author={Shahar Dobzinski}, journal={2016 IEEE 57th Annual Symposium on Foundations of Computer Science (FOCS)}, year={2016}, pages={209-218} }