Don't Roll the Dice, Ask Twice: The Two-Query Distortion of Matching Problems and Beyond

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 35 (NeurIPS 2022) Main Conference Track

Bibtex Paper Supplemental


Georgios Amanatidis, Georgios Birmpas, Aris Filos-Ratsikas, Alexandros Voudouris


In most social choice settings, the participating agents express their preferences over the different alternatives in the form of linear orderings. While this clearly simplifies preference elicitation, it inevitably leads to poor performance with respect to optimizing a cardinal objective, such as the social welfare, since the values of the agents remain virtually unknown. This loss in performance because of lack of information is measured by distortion. A recent array of works put forward the agenda of designing mechanisms that learn the values of the agents for a small number of alternatives via queries, and use this limited extra information to make better-informed decisions, thus improving distortion. Following this agenda, in this work we focus on a class of combinatorial problems that includes most well-known matching problems and several of their generalizations, such as One-Sided Matching, Two-Sided Matching, General Graph Matching, and k-Constrained Resource Allocation. We design two-query mechanisms that achieve the best-possible worst-case distortion in terms of social welfare, and outperform the best-possible expected distortion achieved by randomized ordinal mechanisms.