Joan Feigenbaum is one of the leading computer scientists researching at the intersection of economics and computer science. Although economists have thought about rationality, fairness, cooperation and incentives for a long time, they did not consider computational feasibility in their research. Feigenbaum discusses these and other issues in an interview in ACM Ubiquity.
She observes that the internet has driven the research in computer science and economics. She also observes that the Internet has the characteristics of an economy as well as those of a massive computer. It is no surprise that algorithmic game theory is a rapidly growing field. Feigenbaum gives the example of online auctions where both economists and computer scientists have much to contribute. She sums up the benefit of an algorithmic and complexity approach to problems in economic and commerce in a nice way:
The main focus of computer science theory has been on how to compute things efficiently. If you’re doing something on a single computer, how fast can you do it? How little memory can you use? If you’re doing something on a network, how much bandwidth do you need? How much coordination do you have to achieve between the different nodes? Conversely, efficient computation has not been the focus of economic theory. What’s happening now is that computer scientists are paying attention to incentives, and economists are paying attention to computational and communication efficiency.
Computer Scientists’ interest in economic theory and application can also be seen by special interest groups such as ACM Sigecom.
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