This paper introduces the notions of independence and conditional independence in valuation-based systems (VBS). VBS is an axiomatic framework capable of representing many different uncertainty calculi. We define independence and conditional independence in terms of factorization of the joint valuation. The definitions of independence and conditional independence in VBS generalize the corresponding definitions in probability theory. Our definitions apply not only to probability theory, but also to Dempster-Shafer's belief-function theory, Spohn's epistemic-belief theory, and Zadeh's possibility theory. In fact, they apply to any uncertainty calculi that fit in the framework of valuation-based systems.

Valuation networks have been proposed as graphical representations of valuation-based systems (VBSs). The VBS framework is able to capture many uncertainty calculi including probability theory, Dempster-Shafer's belief-function theory, Spohn's epistemic belief theory, and Zadeh's possibility theory. In this paper, we show how valuation networks encode conditional independence relations. For the probabilistic case, the class of probability models encoded by valuation networks includes undirected graph models, directed acyclic graph models, directed balloon graph models, and recursive causal graph models.

Blum, Avrim (Carnegie Mellon University) | Mansour, Yishay (Tel Aviv University) | Morgenstern, Jame (Carnegie Mellon University)

Auction theory traditionally assumes that bidders’ val- uation distributions are known to the auctioneer, such as in the celebrated, revenue-optimal Myerson auc- tion (Myerson 1981). However, this theory does not de- scribe how the auctioneer comes to possess this infor- mation. Recently work (Cole and Roughgarden 2014) showed that an approximation based on a finite sample of independent draws from each bidder’s distribution is sufficient to produce a near-optimal auction. In this work, we consider the problem of learning bidders’ val- uation distributions from much weaker forms of obser- vations. Specifically, we consider a setting where there is a repeated, sealed-bid auction with n bidders, but all we observe for each round is who won, but not how much they bid or paid. We can also participate (i.e., submit a bid) ourselves, and observe when we win. From this information, our goal is to (approximately) recover the inherently recoverable part of the underlying bid distributions. We also consider extensions where different subsets of bidders participate in each round, and where bidders’ valuations have a common-value component added to their independent private values.

Lawry, Jonathan (University of Bristol) | Dubois, Didier (University of Toulouse IRIT)

A bipolar framework is introduced for combining agents' beliefs so as to enable them to reach a common shared position or viewpoint. Our approach exploits the truth-gaps inherent to propositions involving vague concepts, by allowing agents to soften directly conflicting opinions. To this end we adopt a bipolar truth-model for propositional logic characterised by lower and upper valuations on the sentences of the language. According to this model sentences may be absolutely true, absolutely false or borderline (i.e. neither absolutely true nor absolutely false). The added flexibility of a possible truth-gap between absolutely true and absolutely false allows agents with inconsistent viewpoints, in which a proposition p is absolutely true according to one view and absolutely false according to the other, to reach a compromise position in which p is borderline. Within this framework four combination operators are proposed for combining different viewpoints as represented by different valuation pairs. Intuitively, these correspond to compromise positions with different levels of semantic precision (or vagueness). Kleene belief pairs are then introduced as lower and upper measures quantifying epistemic uncertainty about the sentences of the language when valuation pairs provide the underlying truth model. The combination operators on valuation pairs are then extended to belief pairs using a general schema incorporating a probabilistic model of the interaction between agents. The properties of the four operators are then investigated within this extended framework.

Auctions are a class of multi-party negotiation protocols. Classical auctions try to maximize social welfare by selecting the highest bidder as the winner. If bidders are rational, this ensures that the sum of profits for all bidders and the seller is maximized. In all such auctions, however, only the winner and the seller make any profit. We believe that "social welfare distribution" is a desired goal of any multi-party protocol.