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Long-term Causal Effects via Behavioral Game Theory
Panagiotis Toulis · David Parkes

Wed Dec 07 09:00 AM -- 12:30 PM (PST) @ Area 5+6+7+8 #41

Planned experiments are the gold standard in reliably comparing the causal effect of switching from a baseline policy to a new policy. % One critical shortcoming of classical experimental methods, however, is that they typically do not take into account the dynamic nature of response to policy changes. For instance, in an experiment where we seek to understand the effects of a new ad pricing policy on auction revenue, agents may adapt their bidding in response to the experimental pricing changes. Thus, causal effects of the new pricing policy after such adaptation period, the {\em long-term causal effects}, are not captured by the classical methodology even though they clearly are more indicative of the value of the new policy. % Here, we formalize a framework to define and estimate long-term causal effects of policy changes in multiagent economies. Central to our approach is behavioral game theory, which we leverage to formulate the ignorability assumptions that are necessary for causal inference. Under such assumptions we estimate long-term causal effects through a latent space approach, where a behavioral model of how agents act conditional on their latent behaviors is combined with a temporal model of how behaviors evolve over time.

Author Information

Panagiotis Toulis (University of Chicago)
David Parkes (Harvard University)

David C. Parkes is Gordon McKay Professor of Computer Science in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences at Harvard University. He was the recipient of the NSF Career Award, the Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship, the Thouron Scholarship and the Harvard University Roslyn Abramson Award for Teaching. Parkes received his Ph.D. degree in Computer and Information Science from the University of Pennsylvania in 2001, and an M.Eng. (First class) in Engineering and Computing Science from Oxford University in 1995. At Harvard, Parkes leads the EconCS group and teaches classes in artificial intelligence, optimization, and topics at the intersection between computer science and economics. Parkes has served as Program Chair of ACM EC’07 and AAMAS’08 and General Chair of ACM EC’10, served on the editorial board of Journal of Artificial Intelligence Research, and currently serves as Editor of Games and Economic Behavior and on the boards of Journal of Autonomous Agents and Multi-agent Systems and INFORMS Journal of Computing. His research interests include computational mechanism design, electronic commerce, stochastic optimization, preference elicitation, market design, bounded rationality, computational social choice, networks and incentives, multi-agent systems, crowd-sourcing and social computing.

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