Keynote (Michael Kearns)

Experiments in Social Computation (and the Data They Generate)

Michael Kearns
Department of Computer and Information Science
University of Pennsylvania

For a number of years we have been conducting controlled human-subject experiments in distributed social computation in networks with only limited and local communication. These experiments cast a number of traditional computational, economic and sociological problems (including graph coloring, consensus, independent set, networked bargaining, biased voting and network formation) as games of strategic interaction in which subjects have financial incentives to collectively "compute" global solutions. I will overview and summarize the many behavioral findings from this line of experimentation. I will give particular emphasis to the novel data the experiments have generated, and the analyses this data has permitted, including quantitative studies of subject "personality" traits such as stubbornness, altruism, and patience, and whether those traits seem helpful or harmful to individual and collective performance.