Strategy-proofness in the Large

We propose a criterion of approximate incentive compatibility, strategy-proofness in the large (SP-L), and argue that it is a useful second-best to exact strategy- proofness (SP) for market design. Conceptually, SP-L requires that an agent who regards a mechanism’s “prices” as exogenous to her report – be they traditional prices as in an auction mechanism, or price-like statistics in an assignment or matching mechanism – has a dominant strategy to report truthfully. Mathematically, SP-L weakens SP in two ways: (i) truth-telling is required to be approximately optimal (within epsilon in a large enough market) rather than exactly optimal, and (ii) incentive compatibility is evaluated ex interim, with respect to all full-support i.i.d. probability distributions of play, rather than ex post with respect to all possible realizations of play. This places SP-L in be- tween the traditional notion of approximate SP, which evaluates incentives to manipulate ex post and as a result is too strong to obtain our main results in support of SP-L, and the traditional notion of approximate Bayes-Nash incentive compatibility, which, like SP-L, evaluates incentives to manipulate ex interim, but which imposes common knowledge and strategic sophistication assumptions that are often viewed as unrealistic.

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