Scalable Robust Kidney Exchange
In barter exchanges, participants directly trade their endowed goods in a constrained economic setting without money. Transactions in barter exchanges are often facilitated via a central clearinghouse that must match participants even in the face of uncertainty—over participants, existence and quality of potential trades, and so on. Leveraging robust combinatorial optimization techniques, we address uncertainty in kidney exchange, a real-world barter market where patients swap (in)compatible paired donors. We provide two scalable robust methods to handle two distinct types of uncertainty in kidney exchange—over the quality and the existence of a potential match. The latter case directly addresses a weakness in all stochastic-optimization-based methods to the kidney exchange clearing problem, which all necessarily require explicit estimates of the probability of a transaction existing—a still-unsolved problem in this nascent market. We also propose a novel, scalable kidney exchange formulation that eliminates the need for an exponential-time constraint generation process in competing formulations, maintains provable optimality, and serves as a subsolver for our robust approach. For each type of uncertainty we demonstrate the benefits of robustness on real data from a large, fielded kidney exchange in the United States. We conclude by drawing parallels between robustness and notions of fairness in the kidney exchange setting.