Mechanism Design For Strategic Crowdsourcing
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This thesis looks into the economics of crowdsourcing using game theoretic modeling. The art of aggregating information and expertise from a diverse population has been in practice since a long time. The Internet and the revolution in communication and computational technologies have made this task easier and given birth to a new era of online resource aggregation, which is now popularly referred to as crowdsourcing. Two important features of this aggregation technique are: (a) crowdsourcing is always human driven, hence the participants are rational and intelligent, and they have a payoff function that they aim to maximize, and (b) the participants are connected over a social network which helps to reach out to a large set of individuals. To understand the behavior and the outcome of such a strategic crowd, we need to understand the economics of a crowdsourcing network. In this thesis, we have considered the following three major facets of the strategic crowdsourcing problem. (i) Elicitation of the true qualities of the crowd workers: As the crowd is often unstructured and unknown to the designer, it is important to ensure if the crowdsourced job is indeed performed at the highest quality, and this requires elicitation of the true qualities which are typically the participants' private information. (ii) Resource critical task execution ensuring the authenticity of both the information and the identity of the participants: Due to the diverse geographical, cultural, socio-economic reasons, crowdsourcing entails certain manipulations that are unusual in the classical theory. The design has to be robust enough to handle fake identities or incorrect information provided by the crowd while performing crowdsourcing contests. (iii) Improving the productive output of the crowdsourcing network: As the designer's goal is to maximize a certain measurable output of the crowdsourcing system, an interesting question is how one can design the incentive scheme and/or the network so that the system performs at an optimal level taking into account the strategic nature of the individuals. In the thesis, we design novel mechanisms to solve the problems above using game theoretic modeling. Our investigation helps in understanding certain limits of achievability, and provides design protocols in order to make crowdsourcing more reliable, effective, and productive.