PhD in Economics, Stanford University.
Junior Fellow at the Harvard Society of Fellows.
I work on economic theory and behavioral economics, with a particular interest in market design. Lately, I've been thinking about how to design economic systems that are simple and transparent, even when they deal with complex underlying constraints.
Obviously Strategy-Proof Mechanisms (revise and resubmit, American Economic Review)
A strategy is obviously dominant if, for any deviation, at any information set where both strategies first diverge, the best outcome under the deviation is no better than the worst outcome under the dominant strategy. A mechanism is obviously strategy-proof (OSP) if it has an equilibrium in obviously dominant strategies. This has a behavioral interpretation: A strategy is obviously dominant iff a cognitively limited agent can recognize it as weakly dominant. It also has a classical interpretation: A choice rule is OSP-implementable iff it can be carried out by a social planner under a particular regime of partial commitment. I fully characterize the set of OSP mechanisms in a canonical setting, with one-dimensional types and quasi-linear utility. A laboratory experiment tests and corroborates the theory. The online appendix is available here.
Obvious Ex Post Equilibrium (forthcoming in Papers and Proceedings of the AER, May 2017)
This short paper suggests a way to adapt the notion of obvious strategy-proofness to environments with interdependent values. The definition is obvious ex post, in more ways than one. The online appendix is available here.
Thickness and Information in Dynamic Matching Markets (revise and resubmit, Journal of Political Economy)
(with Mohammad Akbarpour and Shayan Oveis-Gharan) We introduce a simple model of dynamic matching in networked markets, where agents arrive and depart stochastically, and the composition of the trade network depends endogenously on the matching algorithm. We show that if the planner can identify agents who are about to depart, then waiting to thicken the market is highly valuable, and if the planner cannot identify such agents, then matching agents greedily is close to optimal. We characterize the optimal waiting time (in a restricted class of mechanisms) as a function of waiting costs and network sparsity. The planner's decision problem in our model involves a combinatorially complex state space. However, we show that simple local algorithms that choose the right time to match agents, but do not exploit the global network structure, can perform close to complex optimal algorithms. Finally, we consider a setting where agents have private information about their departure times, and design a continuous-time dynamic mechanism to elicit this information.
Belief Updating and the Demand for Information (revise and resubmit, Games and Economic Behavior)
(with Sandro Ambuehl) How do individuals value noisy information that guides economic decisions? In our laboratory experiment, we find that individuals underreact to increasing the informativeness of a signal, thus undervalue high-quality information, and that they disproportionately prefer information that may yield certainty. We find that individuals differ consistently in their responsiveness to information; i.e. the extent that their beliefs move upon observing signals. Individual parameters of responsiveness to information have out-of-sample explanatory power in two distinct choice environments and are unrelated to proxies for mathematical aptitude.
Carpe Diem, Carpe Worm: Context-Dependent Choice as Explained by Foraging Theory (revise and resubmit, Journal of Economic Theory)
(with Ning Yu) This paper reconciles two seemingly competing explanations of context-dependent choice, one invoking psychological mechanisms, and the other Bayesian learning. We prove that standard context effects are features of the optimal solution to a general dynamic stochastic resource-acquisition problem. The model has two key ingredients: intertemporal substitution and learning about the environment. Interpreted as a description of animal foraging behavior, it explains why context effects might be adaptive in nature. Interpreted as a description of consumer choice problems, it suggests that context effects might result from rational inference. A simple experiment shows that the latter interpretation sometimes holds.