Algorithmic mechanism design

Noam Nisan*, Amir Ronen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

514 Scopus citations


We consider algorithmic problems in a distributed setting where the participants cannot be assumed to follow the algorithm but rather their own self-interest. As such participants, termed agents, are capable of manipulating the algorithm, the algorithm designer should ensure in advance that the agents' interests are best served by behaving correctly. Following notions from the field of mechanism design, we suggest a framework for studying such algorithms. In this model the algorithmic solution is adorned with payments to the participants and is termed a mechanism. The payments should be carefully chosen as to motivate all participants to act as the algorithm designer wishes. We apply the standard tools of mechanism design to algorithmic problems and in particular to the shortest path problem. Our main technical contribution concerns the study of a representative problem, task scheduling, for which the standard tools do not suffice. We present several theorems regarding this problem including an approximation mechanism, lower bounds and a randomized mechanism. We also suggest and motivate extensions to the basic model and prove improved upper bounds in the extended model. Many open problems are suggested as well.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)129-140
Number of pages12
JournalConference Proceedings of the Annual ACM Symposium on Theory of Computing
StatePublished - 1999
EventProceedings of the 1999 31st Annual ACM Symposium on Theory of Computing - FCRC '99 - Atlanta, GA, USA
Duration: 1 May 19994 May 1999

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
∗This research was supported by grants from the Israeli ministry of Science and the Israeli academy of sciences. †E-mail: ‡To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail:


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