IS296A Economics-Informed Design of Networked Systems

Economics and network design have always been intimately intertwined. The infrastructural nature of networks, the decentralization of ownership and control, and the derivation of utility by heterogeneous users and applications, all point to the need for incorporating economic considerations into the design of networks.

In this research seminar, we will read and discuss recent papers exploring the many different areas in which network design and economics intersect, including: economic characteristics of networks, modeling strategic behavior in network games, information asymmetries in networked environments, incentive engineering and market-based resource allocation, etc., with applications to Internet architecture, peer-to-peer, ad-hoc, and overlay networks, online social networks, and network security, etc.

Tentative Schedule and Readings


CCN: 42802 (2-3 units)
Instructor: John Chuang (chuang@sims), 312 South Hall
Class Meetings: Mondays noon-2pm in 202 South Hall
Office Hours: Tuesdays and Thursdays 3-4pm in 312 South Hall
Pre-requisites: None
Electronic Communications
Class wiki

Instructions for registering with the wiki:
1. Have a SIMS LDAP account (contact the instructor if you don't already have one)
2. Register with the wiki here:
3. Have someone whose name appear on this page ( add you to the group. Else send email to the instructor with your wikiname from step 2. Once you are in the group, you can also add others to the group by editing the page.

Class blog [TBA]

Unmoderated mailing list: "eind@sims" (Subscribe by sending email to "majordomo@sims" with "Subscribe eind" as first line of message body.)

Course Organization and Deliverables
Class meetings will be organized in a mixture of lecture and discussion formats. It is the responsibility of each student to complete the assigned readings before each meeting, and to contribute actively in class. We will also engage in online discussion throughout the semester via a class wiki or blog (details TBD), so that everyone in the class will have ample opportunities to participate and contribute.

For each class meeting, we will assign two or three "DQs" (designated questioners) who will be responsible for asking questions and soliciting responses in connection with the assigned readings. The DQs can work together or independently in drafting the set of questions. The DQ's will then post to the class blog or wiki a written summary covering the key points made during the class discussion. We will do DQ sign-up's on September 12. The instructor will perform some load-balancing to ensure there are sufficient numbers of DQs for each meeting.

Each student will submit, on or before November 28, an encyclopedic entry (a la Wikipedia) or FAQ document (a la Mackie-Mason and Varian) on your chosen topic. If you choose to write an encyclopedic entry, please choose a topic that does not yet exist in Wikipedia, or one that exists but has lots of room for improvement. Please post a stub entry with topic and a skeletal outline on the class wiki on or before Monday, Oct 10. We will try to coordinate the writing of entries via the class wiki, so as to avoid duplication of effort, encourage early feedback from classmates, and encourage cross-linking of entries. Students may work in pairs if the scale and scope of the entry warrants the arrangement, but you must seek prior approval from the instructor. With luck, we may be able to put together and publish, collectively as a class, a comprehensive set of documents on economics-informed network design.

Students who sign up for 3 units of credit will also submit a research term paper (due Dec 5) and deliver a presentation (on either Nov 28 or Dec 5). A short paper proposal (0.5-1 page) is due Oct 17. Possible topics include:

Grading components:
Online Resources and Conferences/Workshops of Interest:
Workshop on Economics of P2P Systems (p2pecon) 2005, 2004, 2003
Workshop on Economics and Information Security (WEIS) 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002
Workshop on Information Systems and Economics (WISE) 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002
ACM Workshop on Practice and Theory of Incentives and Game Theory in Networked Systems (PINS) 2004
ACM Conference on Electronic Commerce (EC) 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003
IEEE Conference on E-Commerce Technology (CEC) 2005, 2004
NYU Summer Workshop on the Economics of Information Technology 2005
International Workshop on Incentive Based Computing (IBC) 2005
Workshop on Internet and Network Economics (WINE) 2005
Telecommunications Policy Research Conference (TPRC) 2005

Economics of Networks
Nicholas Economides

The Information Economy: The Economics of the Internet, Information Goods, Intellectual Property and Related Issues
Compiled by Hal R. Varian

Suggestions for other resources welcome!

Last Updated: September 9, 2005 - JC