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A Context Integrated Transformer-based Neural Network for Auction Design

Zhijian Duan
Jingwu Tang
Yutong Yin
Zhe Feng
Xiang Yan
Xiaotie Deng
The Thirty-ninth International Conference on Machine Learning (ICML'22) (2022)
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Abstract

One of the central problems in auction design is to develop an incentive compatible mechanism that maximizes the expected revenue. While theoretical approaches have encountered bottlenecks for multi-item auctions, recently there are many progresses of finding optimal auction through deep learning. However, such works either focus on a fixed set of bidders and items, or restrict the auction to be symmetric. In this work, we overcome this limitation by factoring \emph{public} contextual information of bidders and items into deep learning framework. We propose $\mathtt{CITransNet}$, a context integrated transformer-based neural network for contextual auction design, which maintains permutation-equivariance over bids while being able to handle asymmetric contextual information in auctions. We show by extensive experiments that $\mathtt{CITransNet}$ can recover the known optimal analytical solutions, obtain novel mechanisms for complex multi-item auctions, and generalize to settings different from training set.