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PhD Thesis colloquium

Title: Algorithmic and Hardness Results for Fundamental Fair-Division Problems
Speaker: Nidhi Rathi (IISc Mathematics)
Date: 26 March 2021
Time: 3 pm
Venue: Microsoft Teams (online)

The theory of fair division addresses the fundamental problem of dividing a set of resources among the participating agents in a satisfactory or meaningfully fair manner. This thesis examines the key computational challenges that arise in various settings of fair-division problems and complements the existential (and non-constructive) guarantees and various hardness results by way of developing efficient (approximation) algorithms and identifying computationally tractable instances.

  • Our work in fair cake division develops several algorithmic results for allocating a divisible resource (i.e., the cake) among a set of agents in a fair/economically efficient manner. While strong existence results and various hardness results exist in this setup, we develop a polynomial-time algorithm for dividing the cake in an approximately fair and efficient manner. Furthermore, we identify an encompassing property of agents’ value densities (over the cake)—the monotone likelihood ratio property (MLRP)—that enables us to prove strong algorithmic results for various notions of fairness and (economic) efficiency.

  • Our work in fair rent division develops a fully polynomial-time approximation scheme (FPTAS) for dividing a set of discrete resources (the rooms) and splitting the money (rents) among agents having general utility functions (continuous, monotone decreasing, and piecewise-linear), in a fair manner. Prior to our work, efficient algorithms for finding such solutions were know n only for a specific set of utility functions. We complement the algorithmic results by proving that the fair rent division problem (under genral utilities) lies in the intersection of the complexity classes, PPAD (Polynomial Parity Arguments on Directed graphs) and PLS (Polynomial Local Search).

  • Our work respectively addresses fair division of rent, cake (divisible), and discrete (indivisible) goods in a partial information setting. We show that, for all these settings and under appropriate valuations, a fair (or an approximately fair) division among $n$ agents can be efficiently computed using only the valuations of $n-1$ agents. The $n$th (secretive) agent can make an arbitrary selection after the division has been proposed and, irrespective of her choice, the computed division will admit an overall fair allocation.

Contact: +91 (80) 2293 2711, +91 (80) 2293 2265 ;     E-mail: chair.math[at]iisc[dot]ac[dot]in
Last updated: 18 Apr 2021