Engineering Societal Systems / Spring 2022
This class will explore topics in the intersection of computer science, economics, and operations -- on the application of algorithms, data science/machine learning, and mechanism design to the study of democracy, markets, and societal systems at large. Methodological tools discussed include both theoretical (mechanism/market design, social choice, pricing, matching, etc) and empirical (large-scale optimization, demand estimation, using governmental data, etc). Application domains could include markets (labor, accommodation, services, rides), governmental (transportation, democracy) and other non-profit settings (education, housing, humanitarian, volunteer coordination, food allocation).
- Course website
- Paper list
- Discussion + Paper presentation signup
- Slack – Primary communication tool; see syllabus for link
- Paper review and feedback instructions
See the syllabus for details. The class will be fully remote, with students split across Ithaca and NYC.
- Introduction and overview (~1 weeks)
- What is market design? What are the tools used?
- Overview of classic papers/ideas
- How do we analyze existing systems? What is the role of an engineer/computing in understanding societal systems? How do we design new systems? Where has engineering of societal systems most succeeded? How do we choose an appropriate objective function?
- Transportation systems as a representative case study (~2-3 weeks)
- Transportation marketplaces: pricing, matching
- Public transportation: school bus routing, stop placement, shared vehicles
- Congestion pricing
- Online marketplaces more generally (~2 weeks)
- Pricing, matching, reputation systems, recommendations
- Crowdsourcing, social choice, information design (~2 weeks)
- Wisdom of crowds, herding, information design
- Voting in complicated spaces (rankings, participatory budgeting)
- Optimization + voting (gerrymandering, sortition)
- Social choice + machine learning
- Education systems (~2 weeks)
- School choice (matching + recommendations), school zone design (optimization)
- Designing admissions systems
- Miscellaneous methodologies and applications
- Limits of technical approaches (~1 week)
- What are the limits to engineering methodologies?
- How do we incorporate qualitative methods?