CSECON Seminar Series
Procrastination with Variable Present Bias
Speaker:  Emmanouil (Manolis) Pountourakis

Date: 
Wednesday, June 1, 2016 
Time: 
12:00pm  1:00pm 
Location: 
Gross Hall 304B, Duke 

Lunch will be served. 


Abstract
Individuals working towards a goal often exhibit time
inconsistent behavior, making plans and then failing to follow
through. One wellknown model of such behavioral anomalies is
presentbias discounting: individuals overweight present costs by a
bias factor. This model explains many timeinconsistent behaviors, but
can make stark predictions in many settings: individuals either follow
the most efficient plan for reaching their goal or procrastinate
indefinitely.
We propose a modification in which the presentbias parameter can vary
over time, drawn independently each step from a fixed
distribution.Following Kleinberg and Oren (2014), we use a weighted
task graph to model task planning, and measure the cost of
procrastination as the relative expected cost of the chosen path
versus the optimal path. We use a novel connection to optimal pricing
theory to describe the structure of the worstcase task graph for any
presentbias distribution. We then leverage this structure to derive
conditions on the bias distribution under which the worstcase ratio
is exponential (in time) or constant.
We also examine conditions on the task graph that lead to improved
procrastination ratios: graphs with a uniformly bounded distance to
the goal, and graphs in which the distance to the goal monotonically
decreases on any path.
Joint work with Nick Gravin, Nicole Immorlica, and Brendan Lucier.
Biography
Emmanouil Pountourakis is a PhD candidate in the Theory and
Economics group of the Department of Electrical Engineering and
Computer Science at Northwestern University. Since 2014 he has been a
long term visitor at Microsoft Research, New England. Emmanouil
Pountourakis has a broad interest in algorithmic mechanism design. His
current research focuses on revenue maximization in static and dynamic
environments, and theoretical analysis of behavioral models of
timediscounting.
Hosted by: Vince Conitzer