Simple and Approximately Optimal Pricing for Proportional Complementarities


We study a new model of complementary valuations, which we call "proportional complementarities.’’ In contrast to common models, such as hypergraphic valuations, in our model, we do not assume that the extra value derived from owning a set of items is independent of the buyer’s base valuations for the items. Instead, we model the complementarities as proportional to the buyer’s base valuations, and these proportionalities are known market parameters. Our goal is to design a simple pricing scheme that, for a single buyer with proportional complementarities, yields approximately optimal revenue. We define a new class of mechanisms where some number of items are given away for free, and the remaining items are sold separately at inflated prices. We find that the better of such a mechanism and selling the grand bundle earns a 12-approximation to the optimal revenue for pairwise proportional complementarities. This confirms the intuition that items should not be sold completely separately in the presence of complementarities. In the more general case, a buyer has a maximum of proportional positive hypergraphic valuations, where a hyperedge in a given hypergraph describes the boost to the buyer’s value for item i given by owning any set of items T in addition. The maximum-out-degree of such a hypergraph is d, and k is the positive rank of the hypergraph. For valuations given by these parameters, our simple pricing scheme is an O(min{d,k})-approximation.

Proceedings of the 2019 ACM Conference on Economics and Computation (EC)
Yang Cai
Yang Cai
Associate Professor