Mechanism Design for Social Good request for proposals
This Research Award is now closed
Applications are now closed
Notification process: Successful awardees will be notified by email.
Launch Date June 18, 2018
Areas of Interest
Researchers can submit proposals for any domain in which a successful (privacy-protective) mechanism would have some broader positive impact on society. We describe some example domains below. (Note that the descriptions below are not all fully specified, and at times are highly stylized. We encourage researchers tackling these domains to consider more complex, realistic models when appropriate in their proposals.)
- Mentorship. Suppose one is given a set of people who are all interested in a particular topic or issue, but who self-sort into two groups: those who need support or advice to achieve their goals, and those with the expertise or experience to help. What mechanism for connecting mentors to mentees will result in the greatest overall experience to help form supportive, meaningful relationships?
- Crisis Response. The mission of the Crisis Response team is to increase the survival and speed of recovery for everyone affected by a crisis. One particular feature from this team is Community Help, which tackles the following problem. Suppose a natural disaster has occurred in a community and as a result, people in the community require help and support in the form of information, volunteer services, shelter, food and water, etc.; while other people and organizations in the crisis community want to provide this kind of help and support as efficiently as possible. How should one design a mechanism to allow people to quickly and safely offer and receive help and support?
- Job market matching. Suppose one is given a set of people looking for jobs and a set of small businesses with job openings. What communication protocol and matching mechanism results in a good matching of prospective employees to small businesses?
- Blood donations. Given a set of people in need of blood donations in a broader population, how can one identify possible donors, increase donor participation, and route donors to appropriate health centers to maximize the number of successful blood donations?
- Charitable giving. Suppose one is given a set of charities, a set of people, a set of weights that indicate which people are likely to support which charities, and a fixed budget for matching donations. What donation-matching mechanism will result in the highest total amount donated across charities? How much can outcomes be improved when the mechanism utilizes known information about social ties between people?
- Compassion and civil discourse. Suppose one is given a set of people with diverse political or philosophical beliefs. What systems (consisting of connecting participants, followed by structured conversation) can one design that allow people with non-overlapping beliefs to engage with each other in productive conversation?
- Partnerships and dating markets. Given a set of people who are interested in forming partnerships, and each with unknown preferences over their possible partners, how should one design a mechanism that elicits information from participants and matches them to prospective partners in a way that achieves a desirable outcome?
Aside from proposals that focus on a particular domain, we are also interested in research contributing to broader methodologies that can be applied across multiple MD4SG domains. Research contributions include, but are not limited to, any of the following:
- Tools that allow a practitioner to more easily express their problem in a way that can directly map to a sufficiently compact game representation.
- Methods for eliciting or aggregating preferences about preferred mechanism outcomes.
- Methods for measuring the extent to which desiderata are satisfied from an existing mechanism.
- Advances in automated mechanism design: exploring new objective functions; tackling problems with high dimensionality; efficient computation of outcomes; designing interpretable mechanisms; designing mechanisms with guarantees.
- Methods and tools for problem discovery, e.g., via crowdsourcing or agents that search for market inefficiencies.
Three $50,000 USD gifts will be awarded. Payment will be made to the proposer's host university as an unrestricted gift.
Proposals should include
- A summary of the project. Provide a maximum 2-page, clear and concise statement explaining the area of focus, a description of techniques, any relevant prior work, and a timeline with milestones and expected outcomes. References can be included on a separate page.
- Curriculum Vitae for the principal researchers
- A proposed budget description (1 page) including an approximate cost of the award and explanation of how funds would be spent
- A one-paragraph biography of the principal researchers. Bios can be included within any submitted files of the application.
Timing and Dates
- Applications are now closed.
- Notification process: Successful awardees will be notified by email.
For questions, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
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