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Redefining Resource Allocation in Computing Systems

By Jacob Chasan

A new kernel1 is in town. The current industry-standard for resource allocation on computers does not take the user’s preferences into account, rather programs are given access to resources based on the time that each requested to be run. Although this system can lead to solutions that minimize the time it takes for a program to receive an allocation, it often leads to an incentive misalignment between the programs and the user. This misalignment is exacerbated as the current queue based systems have no inherent mechanism to prevent a tragedy of the commons issue, whereby programs take more resources from the system than the value they provide to the user. By shifting to a market-based approach, where computing resources are allocated to programs based on how much utility the user receives from each program, the incentives of the programs and the users align. With inherent market mechanisms to keep the incentives aligned, this new paradigm leads to at least superior levels of utility for a user.

1As described in subsequent parts of this paper, the kernel is the core program within an operating system which is given the authority to allocate the hardware resources amongst the programs on the computer.

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Advisors: Professor Benjamin C. Lee, Professor Atila Abdulkadiroglu, Professor Michelle Connolly | JEL Codes: C8, C80

Incentive Programs for Neglected Diseases

By Pranav Ganapathy   

We propose and evaluate an auction mechanism for the priority review voucher program. The 2007 voucher program rewards drug developers for regulatory approval of novel treatments for neglected tropical diseases. Previous papers have proposed auctioning vouchers for the priority review voucher program but have offered neither a mathematical model nor a framework. We present a mechanism design problem with one pharmaceutical company producing one drug for a neglected tropical disease. The mechanism that maximizes the regulator’s expected surplus is a take-it-or-leave-it offer, with three different offers based on low, intermediate, and high neglected disease burdens. We demonstrate how mechanism design can be applied to settings in which the buyer pays for public access to a product with regulatory speed. Finally, this paper may be useful to policymakers seeking to improve access to voucher drugs through modifications of the program.

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Advisors: Professor David Ridley, Professor Giuseppe Lopomo, Professor Michelle Connolly| JEL Codes: I1, D44, D82

A Brief Review and Analysis of Spectrum Auctions in Canada

By Martínez-Cid, Wenfei Jiao, and Zeren Zhang

We begin by explaining the importance of efficient spectrum allocation and reviewing Canada’s recent spectrum allocation history. We then use a dataset covering more than 1,200 licenses auctioned from 2001 to 2015 that seeks to account for each auction’s particular rules. Our results confirm that measures of demand such as population covered, income levels, frequency levels, bandwidth, etc. indeed drive license valuation. We also quantify the negative impact on price of setting aside particular license auctions for new entrants, suggesting that the set-aside provision constitutes an implicit subsidy for those firms.

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Advisor: Michelle Connolly | JEL Codes: D44, D45, D47, L51, O33

Optimal Ordering in Sequential English Auctions: A Revenue-Comparison Model for 18th Century Art Auctions in London and Paris

By Amaan Mitha

We develop a model based on several auction parameters to test the widely held notion that in a sequential English auction, it is optimal for the seller to arrange the lots in order of decreasing value. We test this model against two datasets of 18th century auctions, one of various auctions from Paris and the other from Christie’s sales in London. We find that the Paris data support the claim, while the Christie’s data seem to refute the optimal strategy. We also find a rationale for bidders in the Christie’s auctions to alter their strategies, accounting for the discrepancy.

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Advisor: Neil De Marchi | JEL Codes: D4, Z11 | Tagged: Auctions, English Auction, Lot Ordering, Optimal Auction Strategy, Sequential Auctions


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