IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

An Inverse-Optimization-Based Auction Mechanism to Support a Multiattribute RFQ Process


  • Damian R. Beil

    () (University of Michigan Business School, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109-1234)

  • Lawrence M. Wein

    () (Sloan School of Management, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02142)


We consider a manufacturer who uses a reverse, or procurement, auction to determine which supplier will be awarded a contract. Each bid consists of a price and a set of nonprice attributes (e.g., quality, lead time). The manufacturer is assumed to know the parametric form of the suppliers' cost functions (in terms of the nonprice attributes), but has no prior information on the parameter values. We construct a multiround open-ascending auction mechanism, where the manufacturer announces a slightly different scoring rule (i.e., a function that ranks the bids in terms of the price and nonprice attributes) in each round. Via inverse optimization, the manufacturer uses the bids from the first several rounds to learn the suppliers' cost functions, and then in the final round chooses a scoring rule that attempts to maximize his own utility. Under the assumption that suppliers submit their myopic best-response bids in the last round, and do not distort their bids in the earlier rounds (i.e., they choose their minimum-cost bid to achieve any given score), our mechanism, indeed, maximizes the manufacturer's utility within the open-ascending format. We also discuss several enhancements that improve the robustness of our mechanism with respect to the model's informational and behavioral assumptions.

Suggested Citation

  • Damian R. Beil & Lawrence M. Wein, 2003. "An Inverse-Optimization-Based Auction Mechanism to Support a Multiattribute RFQ Process," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 49(11), pages 1529-1545, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:inm:ormnsc:v:49:y:2003:i:11:p:1529-1545

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Yeon-Koo Che, 1993. "Design Competition through Multidimensional Auctions," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 24(4), pages 668-680, Winter.
    2. Frank Kelly & Richard Steinberg, 2000. "A Combinatorial Auction with Multiple Winners for Universal Service," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 46(4), pages 586-596, April.
    3. Peter Cramton & John McMillan & Paul Milgrom & Bradley Miller & Bridger Mitchell & Daniel Vincent & Robert Wilson, 1998. "Simultaneous Ascending Auctions with Package Bidding," Papers of Peter Cramton 98cra2, University of Maryland, Department of Economics - Peter Cramton.
    4. Cramton, Peter, 1998. "Ascending auctions," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 42(3-5), pages 745-756, May.
    5. Fernando Branco, 1997. "The Design of Multidimensional Auctions," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 28(1), pages 63-81, Spring.
    6. Wellman, Michael P. & Walsh, William E. & Wurman, Peter R. & MacKie-Mason, Jeffrey K., 2001. "Auction Protocols for Decentralized Scheduling," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 35(1-2), pages 271-303, April.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:inm:ormnsc:v:49:y:2003:i:11:p:1529-1545. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Mirko Janc). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.