Bayesian Optimization-Based Combinatorial Assignment


  • Jakob Weissteiner University of Zurich ETH AI Center
  • Jakob Heiss ETH Zurich ETH AI Center
  • Julien Siems University of Zurich
  • Sven Seuken University of Zurich ETH AI Center



GTEP: Auctions and Market-Based Systems, ML: Learning Preferences or Rankings, ML: Active Learning


We study the combinatorial assignment domain, which includes combinatorial auctions and course allocation. The main challenge in this domain is that the bundle space grows exponentially in the number of items. To address this, several papers have recently proposed machine learning-based preference elicitation algorithms that aim to elicit only the most important information from agents. However, the main shortcoming of this prior work is that it does not model a mechanism's uncertainty over values for not yet elicited bundles. In this paper, we address this shortcoming by presenting a Bayesian optimization-based combinatorial assignment (BOCA) mechanism. Our key technical contribution is to integrate a method for capturing model uncertainty into an iterative combinatorial auction mechanism. Concretely, we design a new method for estimating an upper uncertainty bound that can be used to define an acquisition function to determine the next query to the agents. This enables the mechanism to properly explore (and not just exploit) the bundle space during its preference elicitation phase. We run computational experiments in several spectrum auction domains to evaluate BOCA's performance. Our results show that BOCA achieves higher allocative efficiency than state-of-the-art approaches.




How to Cite

Weissteiner, J., Heiss, J., Siems, J., & Seuken, S. (2023). Bayesian Optimization-Based Combinatorial Assignment. Proceedings of the AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence, 37(5), 5858-5866.



AAAI Technical Track on Game Theory and Economic Paradigms