New online marketplaces are profoundly altering our social and economic interactions. They enable unprecedented levels of monitoring and control over their participants; the complexity of their underlying functions results in the platforms and their participants interacting in intricate and subtle ways; finally, many online marketplaces are reaching scales where small design changes can have a huge impact on their performance. In this course, we will: (i) look at several important online marketplaces, and highlight their unique economic and operational challenges, and (ii) develop stochastic models that provide a principled way to reason about their operations.
This course is based on a similar course taught by Ramesh Johari at Stanford: Platform and Marketplace Design.
Another great set of related courses are Tim Roughgarden’s Algorithmic Game Theory and Mechanism Design.
There is no required textbook for the course; however, the following books are a great reference for various topics we will cover. The Cornell library has access to online versions of some of these books:
Each student should scribe 2 lectures, in groups of 2; worth 10% of grade.
An important component of the class is reading and thinking about papers. To make sure of this, each student is expected to submit a mini-review for at least one paper each on pricing, search, reputation and additional topics. Each review should be less than a page, and answer the following questions:
Note though that since the course will discuss mostly active research, with reading material drawn from recent papers, the technical level required for reading the papers may vary a lot. Send a mail to the instructor if you are concerned about having the appropriate prerequisites.
Unit 1: Mechanism Design and Two-Sided Platforms
Unit 2: Control levers for Online Marketplaces
Search and Recommendation
Reputation and Feedback
Unit 3: Learning with Strategic Agents