Saturday, July 11, 2015

ICALP/LICS 2015: Day 5

The last day of ICALP/LICS 2015 took place yesterday. It started with the last invited talk of the event, which was delivered by Thomas Moscibroda (Microsoft Research and Tsinghua University, China). Thomas talked about Incentive Networks. The setting of his talk was as follows. In a basic economic system, each participant receives a (financial) reward according to his own contribution to the system.  For instance, the coffee retailers I do business with in Reykjavik typically give me a fresh drink every ten I buy. In his talk, Thomas, started by covering work on incentive trees and then moved on to his recent work on incentive networks.  In such networks, a participant’s reward depends not only on his own contribution; but also in part on the contributions made by his social contacts or friends. Thomas argued that the key parameter affecting the efficiency of such an Incentive Network based economic system is the participant’s degree of directed altruism, namely the extent to which someone is willing to work if her work results in a payment to her friend, rather than to herself. He also presented results on the impact of the network topology and other parameters on the efficiency of incentive networks.

The work by Thomas and his co-workers suggests that in many practical settings, Incentive Network-based reward systems might be more efficient than the ubiquitous ’pay-for-your-contribution schemes.

Thomas is an excellent speaker and his talk was accessible and gave the audience something to take home. The only complaint one could possibly have is that he went over time, thus leaving little time for questions and eating some precious coffee-break time before the last session of contributed talks. However, this was a small price to pay for having the chance to learn about an interesting topic I knew nothing about.

Overall, I think that the co-located ICALP/LICS 2015 was a resounding success. I thank the conference organizers for the great work in organizing this event and for allowing the ICALP and LICS communities to congregate in Kyoto for this event. This was the first ICALP outside of Europe and the first LICS in Asia.

If you were at ICALP/LICS and you have any comment/criticism/suggestion, please post a comment or send me an email. We are always keen to improve.

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