Mark Gritter (markgritter) wrote,
Mark Gritter

Olympic Combinatorial Auctions

When I was watching the women's Super-G event, the commentators were talking about the relative advantages of skiing first or last. The position of the sun and snow changes, and later skiers can observer earlier runs.

While I don't know the exact criteria used to determine order (most likely random or weighted based on previous performances), this seems an ideal place to use a market-oriented mechanism! Let each skier bid on her preferred position in the order, using time handicaps. A skier who doesn't think position matters can just bid 0 across the board, while a skier who prefers to go first may bid a few tenths or hundredths of a second in each of the earliest positions. (I'm implicitly assuming a sealed-bid one round auction, but there are other models as well.)

If the assignment used a variation on the Vickrey-Clarke-Groves auction, few skiers (if any) would actually pay their full bids; only highly-contested slots would result in handicaps being applied.
Tags: auctions, economics, geek, sports
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