Distributionally Robust Optimal Auction Design under Mean Constraints [article]

Ethan Che
2022 arXiv   pre-print
We study a seller who sells a single good to multiple bidders with uncertainty over the joint distribution of bidders' valuations, as well as bidders' higher-order beliefs about their opponents. The seller only knows the (possibly asymmetric) means of the marginal distributions of each bidder's valuation and the range. An adversarial nature chooses the worst-case distribution within this ambiguity set along with the worst-case information structure. We find that a second-price auction with a
more » ... metric, random reserve price obtains the optimal revenue guarantee within a broad class of mechanisms we refer to as competitive mechanisms, which include standard auction formats, including the first-price auction, with or without reserve prices. The optimal mechanism possesses two notable characteristics. First, the mechanism treats all bidders identically even in the presence of ex-ante asymmetries. Second, when bidders are identical and the number of bidders n grows large, the seller's optimal reserve price converges in probability to a non-binding reserve price and the revenue guarantee converges to the best possible revenue guarantee at rate O(1/n).
arXiv:1911.07103v3 fatcat:7cfwxw7levhdhoswhbaxr6el3a