The Geometry of Truthfulness. Angelina Vidali, 5th Workshop in Internet and Network Economics (WINE '09).

We study the geometrical shape of the partitions of the input space created by the allocation rule of a truthful mechanism for multi-unit auctions with multidimensional types and additive quasilinear utilities. We introduce a new method for describing the the allocation graph and the geometry of truthful mechanisms for an arbitrary number of items(/tasks). Applying this method we characterize all possible mechanisms for the case of three items.

 

Previous work shows that Monotonicity is a necessary and sufficient condition for truthfulness in convex domains. If there is only one item, monotonicity is the most practical description of truthfulness we could hope for, however for the case of more than two items and additive valuations (like in the scheduling domain) we would need a global and more intuitive description, hopefully also practical for proving lower bounds. We replace Monotonicity by a geometrical and global characterization of truthfulness.

Our results apply directly to the scheduling unrelated machines problem. Until now such a characterization was only known for the case of two tasks. It was one of the tools used for proving a lower bound of $1+\sqrt{2}$ for the case of 3 players. This makes our work potentially useful for obtaining improved lower bounds for this very important problem.

Finally we show lower bounds of $1+\sqrt{n}$ and $n$ respectively for two special classes of scheduling mechanisms, defined in terms of their geometry, demonstrating how geometrical considerations can lead to lower bound proofs.