DIMACS Theoretical Computer Science Seminar

Title: Privately Solving Allocation Problems

Speaker: Aaron Roth, U. Penn.

Date: Wednesday, April 2, 2014 11:00-12:00pm

Location: CoRE Bldg, Room 301A, Rutgers University, Busch Campus, Piscataway, NJ


In this talk, we'll consider the problem of privately solving the classical allocation problem: informally, how to allocate items so that most people get what they want. Here, the data that we want to keep private is the valuation function of each person, which specifies how much they like each bundle of goods. This problem hasn't been studied before, and for good reason: its plainly impossible to solve under the constraint of differential privacy. The difficulty is that publishing what each person i receives in a high-welfare allocation might necessarily have to reveal a lot about the preferences of person i, which is what we are trying to keep private! What we show is that under a mild relaxation of differential privacy (in which we require that no adversary who learns the allocation of all people j != i but crucially not the allocation of person i -- should be able to learn much about the valuation function of player i) the allocation problem is solvable to high accuracy, in some generality. Our solution makes crucial use of Walrasian equilibrium prices, which we use as a low information way to privately coordinate a high welfare allocation.

This is joint work with Justin Hsu, Zhiyi Huang, Tim Roughgarden, and Steven Wu.

See: http://www.math.rutgers.edu/~sk1233/theory-seminar/S14/