Optimal Auctions vs. Anonymous Pricing
Abstract
For selling a single item to agents with independent but nonidentically distributed values, the revenue optimal auction is complex. With respect to it, Hartline and Roughgarden (2009) showed that the approximation factor of the secondprice auction with an anonymous reserve is between two and four. We consider the more demanding problem of approximating the revenue of the ex ante relaxation of the auction problem by posting an anonymous price (while supplies last) and prove that their worstcase ratio is e. As a corollary, the upperbound of anonymous pricing or anonymous reserves versus the optimal auction improves from four to $e$. We conclude that, up to an $e$ factor, discrimination and simultaneity are unimportant for driving revenue in singleitem auctions.
 Publication:

arXiv eprints
 Pub Date:
 July 2015
 arXiv:
 arXiv:1507.02615
 Bibcode:
 2015arXiv150702615A
 Keywords:

 Computer Science  Computer Science and Game Theory;
 Computer Science  Data Structures and Algorithms
 EPrint:
 19 pages, 6 figures, To appear in 56th Annual IEEE Symposium on Foundations of Computer Science (FOCS 2015)