A Computational Market Model for Distributed Configuration Design

Michael P. Wellman

This paper presents a precise market model for a well-defined class of distributed configuration design problems. Given a design problem, the model defines a computational economy to allocate basic resources to agents participating in the design. The result of running these "design economies" constitutes the market solution to the original problem. After defining the configuration design framework, I describe the mapping to computational economies and our results to date. For some simple examples, the system can produce good designs relatively quickly. However, analysis shows that the design economies are not guaranteed to find optimal designs, and we identify and discuss some of the major pitfalls. Despite known shortcomings and limited explorations thus far, the market model offers a useful conceptual viewpoint for analyzing distributed design problems.

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