Truthful Approximation Mechanisms for Restricted Combinatorial Auctions

Ahuva Mu'alem and Noam Nisan, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem vi

When attempting to design a truthful mechanism for a computationally hard problem such as combinatorial auctions, one is faced with the problem that most efficiently computable heuristics can not be embedded in any truthful mechanism (e.g. VCG-like payment rules will not ensure truthfulness). We develop a set of techniques that allow constructing efficiently computable truthful mechanisms for combinatorial auctions in the special case where only the valuation is unknown by the mechanism (the single parameter case). For this case we extend the work of Lehmann O'Callaghan, and Shoham, who presented greedy heuristics, and show how to use IF-THEN-ELSE constructs, perform a partial search, and use the LP relaxation. We apply these techniques for several types of combinatorial auctions, obtaining truthful mechanisms with provable approximation ratios.

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