Agent-orientated auction mechanism and strategy design

  • Meng Chang

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


    Agent-based technology is playing an increasingly important role in today’s economy. Usually a multi-agent system is needed to model an economic system such as a market system, in which heterogeneous trading agents interact with each other autonomously. Two questions often need to be answered regarding such systems: 1) How to design an interacting mechanism that facilitates efficient resource allocation among usually self-interested trading agents? 2) How to design an effective strategy in some specific market mechanisms for an agent to maximise its economic returns? For automated market systems, auction is the most popular mechanism to solve resource allocation problems among their participants.
    However, auction comes in hundreds of different formats, in which some are better than others in terms of not only the allocative efficiency but also other properties e.g., whether it generates high revenue for the auctioneer, whether it induces stable behaviour of the bidders. In addition, different strategies result in very different performance under the same auction rules. With this background, we are inevitably intrigued to investigate auction mechanism and strategy designs for agent-based economics. The international Trading Agent Competition (TAC) Ad Auction (AA) competition provides a very useful platform to develop and test agent strategies in Generalised Second Price auction (GSP). AstonTAC, the runner-up of TAC AA 2009, is a successful advertiser agent
    designed for GSP-based keyword auction. In particular, AstonTAC generates adaptive bid
    prices according to the Market-based Value Per Click and selects a set of keyword queries
    with highest expected profit to bid on to maximise its expected profit under the limit of
    conversion capacity. Through evaluation experiments, we show that AstonTAC performs
    well and stably not only in the competition but also across a broad range of environments.
    The TAC CAT tournament provides an environment for investigating the optimal design of mechanisms for double auction markets. AstonCAT-Plus is the post-tournament version of the specialist developed for CAT 2010. In our experiments, AstonCAT-Plus not only outperforms most specialist agents designed by other institutions but also achieves high allocative efficiencies, transaction success rates and average trader profits. Moreover, we reveal some insights of the CAT: 1) successful markets should maintain a stable and high market share of intra-marginal traders; 2) a specialist’s performance is dependent on the distribution of trading strategies. However, typical double auction models assume trading agents have a fixed trading direction of either buy or sell. With this limitation they cannot directly reflect the fact that traders in financial markets (the most popular application of double auction) decide their trading directions dynamically. To address this issue, we introduce the Bi-directional Double Auction (BDA) market which is populated by two-way traders. Experiments are conducted under both dynamic and static settings of the continuous BDA market. We find that the allocative efficiency of a continuous BDA market mainly comes from rational selection of trading directions. Furthermore, we introduce a high-performance Kernel trading strategy in the BDA market which uses kernel probability density estimator built on historical
    transaction data to decide optimal order prices. Kernel trading strategy outperforms
    some popular intelligent double auction trading strategies including ZIP, GD and RE in the continuous BDA market by making the highest profit in static games and obtaining the best wealth in dynamic games.
    Date of Award31 Jan 2013
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorMinghua He (Supervisor)


    • agent-orientated auction mechanism
    • strategy design

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