Seminar: Topics at the Interface between Computer Science and Economics

Lecturer: Prof. Dr. Sven Seuken
Teaching Language English
Level BSc, MSc (interested PhD students should talk to instructor)
Academic Semester Fall 2011
Location and Time Kick-off Meeting: Wed, 21.09.2011: 14:00-15:00 in BIN-1.D.06
Presentation Meeting: Fri, 9.12.2011: 15:45-19:15 and Sa, 10.12.2011: 9:30-14:00, in BIN-1.D.07
AP (ECTS): 3 (including a mark)



Date Event Deliverable
Wed, 21.9.2011 Kick-off Meeting
Wed, 5.10.2011, 23:59 Topic Proposal 1/2 page, proposed topic, starting list of papers you intend to read
7.10.2011-11.10.2011 1-1 Meetings Talk about proposed topic/papers
Sat, 5.11.2011, 23:59 Draft due About 3-5 pages, write-up on reading progress so far
Wed, 9.11.2011 Feedback You get feedback on your reading/writing progress
15.11.2011 – 30.11.2011 1-1 Meetings Talk about progress (optional)
Wed, 30.11.2011, 23:59 Papers due 15 page paper (in final layout) due
1.12.2011 – 6.12.2011 Read peers' papers Read selected papers from classmates (approx. 4)
Tue, 6.12.2011, 23:59 Comments due 1/2 page per paper of your classmates
6.12.2011-8.12.2011 1-1 Meetings Talk about your presentation (optional)
Fri, 9.12.2011, 15:45-19:15 Presentation Day 1 Presentation (approx. 20min) + Discussion (approx. 10 min)
Sat, 10.12.2011, 9:30-14:00 Presentation Day 2
Mon, 19.12.2011, 23:59 Final Papers due Corrected (if necessary) papers due

List of Topics for Seminar Papers

Number Topic Title Papers to get started
1 Electronic/Virtual Currencies BitCoin, iOwe, Accounting Mechanisms
2 The Smart Grid Market Smart Grids and AI, Workshop on Energy Systems
3 User Interfaces for Electronic Markets Market User Interface Design, Hidden Market Design
4 A Market for Open-Link Data Research Web Site, Open-Link Data Image Map
5 Recommender Systems Overview Article, Collaborative Filtering Algorithms
6 Crowdsourcing Crowdsourcing Introduction, Amazon Mechanical Turk
7 Human Computation Human Computation (Google Books), Human Computation (Luis van Ahn's Thesis)
8 Prediction Markets Overview Article
9 Reputation Systems Overview Article, The eBay Reputation System
10 Networks and Economics Networks, Crowds, and Markets
11 Suggest your own topic! Where does Computer Science and Economics meet? See also: Introduction to EconCS

Course Content

In this seminar, we will discuss the interplay between computer science and economics in a variety of fields. We will see the importance of game-theoretic reasoning for the design of online computer systems and electronic market places. Students can choose from a list of topics that will be made available in the kick-off meeting, or are free to propose their own topic. Possible topics include computational mechanism design, electronic currencies, the smart grid market, market design and user interface design, crowdsourcing and human computation, prediction markets, reputation systems, trust mechanisms, and recommender systems

Teaching Format and Setup

The seminar will be held as a “Block-Seminar”. The kick-off meeting is on Wednesday, 21.09.2011, from 14:00-15:00 in BIN-1.D.06. After that date, students can choose a topic and work on their paper during the semester. We will have one or two longer seminar days at the end of the semester for student presentations (exact date and time tbd).


The successful completion of all classes from the assessment level is required. No special prior knowledge is required. Any background in microeconomics, game theory, multi-agent systems, or artificial intelligence would be helpful. Background readings on various subjects will be made available if necessary.

Target Audience

Recommended for BSc students in the 5th and 6th semester as well as MSc students. Interested BSc students in the 3rd or 4th semester as well as PhD students are also welcome but should talk to the instructor first.

Teaching/Learning Goals

1. Understanding the interplay between computer science and economics in a variety of settings.
2. Conducting a literature review and/or a small research project.
3. Writing a technical paper on a clearly defined subject.
4. Holding an oral presentation about a topic and leading a discussion.


1. Final paper (15 pages, LNCS format). The paper can either be a survey paper or a piece of novel research
2. Oral presentation of the paper (using slides) + leading a discussion
3. Active participation during the seminar

Introductory Reading

The necessary literature will be made available at the kick-off meeting. Here is a list of papers/books that may serve as an introduction to various topics:

  1. Comutational Mechanism Design: A Call to Arms (Rajdeep K Dash, Nicholas R. Jennings, and David C. Parkes)
  2. Networks, Crowds, and Markets (David Easley and Jon Kleinberg)
  3. Computational Challenges in E-Commerce (Joan Feigenbaum, David C. Parkes, and David M. Pennock)
  4. The Economist as Engineer: Game Theory, Experimentation, and Computation as Tools for Design Economics (Alvin E. Roth)
  5. Market User Interface Design (Sven Seuken, David C. Parkes, Eric Horvitz, Kamal Jain, Mary Czerwinski, and Desney Tan)
  6. Human Computation (Luis van Ahn)
  7. The Digitization of Word-of-Mouth: Promise and Challenges of Online Reputation Systems (Chrysanthos Dellarocas)
  8. Designing Markets for Prediction (Yiling Chen and David M. Pennock)
  9. Recommender Systems (Paul Resnick and Hal Varian)
  10. Expressive Commerce and Its Application to Sourcing: How We Conducted $35 Billion of Generalized Combinatorial Auctions (Tuomas Sandholm)