Sampling and representation complexity of revenue maximization

Shaddin Dughmi*, L. Han, Noam Nisan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


We consider (approximate) revenue maximization in mechanisms where the distribution on input valuations is given via “black box” access to samples from the distribution. We analyze the following model: a single agent, m outcomes, and valuations represented as m-dimensional vectors indexed by the outcomes and drawn from an arbitrary distribution presented as a black box. We observe that the number of samples required – the sample complexity – is tightly related to the representation complexity of an approximately revenue-maximizing auction. Our main results are upper bounds and an exponential lower bound on these complexities. We also observe that the computational task of “learning” a good mechanism from a sample is nontrivial, requiring careful use of regularization in order to avoid over-fitting the mechanism to the sample. We establish preliminary positive and negative results pertaining to the computational complexity of learning a good mechanism for the original distribution by operating on a sample from said distribution.

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014.


Dive into the research topics of 'Sampling and representation complexity of revenue maximization'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this