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Optimal Auction in a Multidimensional World

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  • Charles Zheng

    (Northwestern University)

Abstract

A long-standing unsolved problem, often arising from auctions with multidimensional bids, is how to design seller-optimal auctions when bidders' private characteristics differ in many dimensions. This paper partially solves the problem in an auction setting with characteristics stochastically independent across bidders. The solution applies to the multidimensional versions of incentive contracts (Laffont and Tirole (1987) and Che (1993)) and nonlinear pricing (Armstrong (1996)). First, the paper proves that the multidimensionality requires that an optimal auction exclude a positive measure of bidders. Consequently, a standard auction without a reserve price or entrance fee is not optimal. Second, the paper obtains an explicit formula for optimal mechanisms, adopting the assumption of multiplicative separability from Armstrong (1996). Our optimal mechanism is almost equivalent to a Vickrey auction with a reserve price, except that the bids are ranked by an optimal scoring rule, which assigns scores to the multidimensional bids. This ``scoring-rule auction'' is optimal among all mechanisms if incentive compatibility constraints are non-binding (guaranteed by a hazard-rate assumption), and it is optimal among a smaller class of mechanisms if the constraints are binding. Our solution implies that an optimizing seller would induce downward distortion of a bid's nonmonetary provisions from the first-best configuration. Applied to multidimensional nonlinear pricing, our solution yields an explicit optimal pricing function.

Suggested Citation

  • Charles Zheng, 2000. "Optimal Auction in a Multidimensional World," Econometric Society World Congress 2000 Contributed Papers 0296, Econometric Society.
  • Handle: RePEc:ecm:wc2000:0296
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Armstrong, Mark, 1996. "Multiproduct Nonlinear Pricing," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 64(1), pages 51-75, January.
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    13. Chao, Hung-Po & Wilson, Robert, 2002. "Multi-dimensional Procurement Auctions for Power Reserves: Robust Incentive-Compatible Scoring and Settlement Rules," Journal of Regulatory Economics, Springer, vol. 22(2), pages 161-183, September.
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    Cited by:

    1. Leonardo Rezende, 2009. "Biased procurement auctions," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 38(1), pages 169-185, January.
    2. Fuqiang Zhang, 2010. "Procurement Mechanism Design in a Two-Echelon Inventory System with Price-Sensitive Demand," Manufacturing & Service Operations Management, INFORMS, vol. 12(4), pages 608-626, August.
    3. Lamping, Jennifer, 2008. "Ignorance Is Bliss: Matching in Auctions with an Uninformed Seller," MPRA Paper 24374, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    4. Lamping, Jennifer, 2007. "The Value of Information in Auctions with Default Risk," MPRA Paper 24375, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    5. Levin, Dan & Peck, James & Ye, Lixin, 2007. "Bad news can be good news: Early dropouts in an English auction with multi-dimensional signals," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 95(3), pages 462-467, June.
    6. Lamping, Jennifer, 2008. "The Value of Commitment in Auctions with Matching," MPRA Paper 24373, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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