AAAI Publications, Thirtieth AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence

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Fast Optimal Clearing of Capped-Chain Barter Exchanges
Benjamin Plaut, John P. Dickerson, Tuomas Sandholm

Last modified: 2016-02-21


Kidney exchange is a type of barter market where patients exchange willing but incompatible donors. These exchanges are conducted via cycles---where each incompatible patient-donor pair in the cycle both gives and receives a kidney---and chains, which are started by an altruist donor who does not need a kidney in return. Finding the best combination of cycles and chains is hard. The leading algorithms for this optimization problem use either branch and price — a combination of branch and bound and column generation — or constraint generation. We show a correctness error in the leading prior branch-and-price-based approach [Glorie et al. 2014]. We develop a provably correct fix to it, which also necessarily changes the algorithm's complexity, as well as other improvements to the search algorithm. Next, we compare our solver to the leading constraint-generation-based solver and to the best prior correct branch-and-price-based solver. We focus on the setting where chains have a length cap. A cap is desirable in practice since if even one edge in the chain fails, the rest of the chain fails: the cap precludes very long chains that are extremely unlikely to execute and instead causes the solution to have more parallel chains and cycles that are more likely to succeed. We work with the UNOS nationwide kidney exchange, which uses a chain cap. Algorithms from our group autonomously make the transplant plans for that exchange. On that real data and demographically-accurate generated data, our new solver scales significantly better than the prior leading approaches.


Kidney exchange; barter exchange; integer programming; branch and price; constraint generation; mechanism design; market clearing

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