John O. Ledyard, David Porter and Antonio Rangel

Experiments Testing Multiobject Allocation Mechanisms

This paper reports the results of over 130 auctions conducted under controlled conditions to examine the robustness of several auction mechanisms to allocate multiple objects. The simultaneous discrete auction process used by the Federal Communications Commission to allocate Personal Communications licenses was contrasted with a sequential auction and a combinatorial auction over a variety of demand conditions. In test environments created to check only the minimum competency of the procedures, the simultaneous discrete auction process produces highly efficient allocations, approaching levels similar to those found with a continuous form of the auction, and it outperforms a sequential auction. However, in environments created to stress test the procedures, a combinatorial auction outperforms the simultaneous discrete auction.