Department of Electrical Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology Bombay
IITB Calendar

Market Games: When, How and if Markets Work
Prof. Milind Sohoni, Dept. of Computer Science and Engg, IIT Bombay
Venue, Date and Time

LCH-11, Lecture Hall Complex, Jul 17, 2013, 03:30 PM

Markets are, of course, one of the oldest mechanism of exchanging commodities and cultural artifacts. While their history is over 5000 years old, their mathematical theory is rather recent. The first such models were by Fisher and Walras. Later models have been by Arrow, Debreu and others. Markets are now the central philosophical cornerstone of much of the discourse on efficiency and development, and it is imperative that we should investigate their functioning.

The key to a market is its implementation, whence we explore some standard laws (e.g., price discovery and the supply/demand curve intersection) and their strategic basis. We illustrate how markets may themselves extract substantial rents. We then move to a detailed analysis on how typical implementations of markets are actually strategizable, i.e., why it may pay to lie. We close by highlighting two commonly occurring market-games which need further research--the cowherd of gokul game, and the engineering college placement game. The placement game illustrates how "merit" arises as an economic irrationality.

(The middle part of the talk will assume some familiarity with principles of optimization. Otherwise, the talk will be accessible to UGs and above.)

About the Speaker

Milind Sohoni is a Professor in Computer Science and Engg. at IIT Bombay and the current head of the Center for Technology Alternatives for Rural Areas (CTARA). Milind did his MS from University of Illinois in 1988, and his Btech and PhD from IIT Bombay in 1986 and 1993. He has been at IIT Bombay since 1994. He has worked in many areas of applied mathematics. He is the co-author of the Sohoni-Mulmuley geometric complexity approach to the P vs NP problem in theoretical computer science. Since 2005, he has focused on rural drinking water as an area of research. He is a member of the drinking water group at CTARA which works on all aspects of the sector and engages with the Government of Maharashtra. He has a keen interest in formulating a new pedagogy for engineering which aims to train students in stake-holder driven problem solving. An example video is at