Auctions without Auctioneers: Distributed Auction Protocols

  • Marc Esteva
  • Julian Padget
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 1788)


It is quite natural for electronic institutions to follow the structure of their physical counterparts. However, this is not always appropriate or desirable in a virtual setting. We report on the prototyping of an alternative architecture for electronic auctions based around the concept of an interagent and building on the considerable body of work in the distributed algorithms literature to plot a path toward resilient trading frameworks. In particular, we have adapted the classical Leader Election algorithm for resolving bids in a generic auction scheme as well as identifying the factors which differentiate the physical auction protocols in such a way that new auction protocols can be plugged into the scheme by the specification of the relevant (sub-)processes. We have used the process algebra called the π-calculus to specify both the generic scheme and the specific protocols of first-price, second-price, Dutch and English. The bid resolution process has been prototyped in Pict and is now going to be integrated into the FishMarket electronic auction house.


Electronic commerce auctions distributed programming process calculi 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Bushnell, J., Oren, S.: Two dimensional auctions for efficient franchising of public monopolies. Technical Report ERL-93-41, University of California, Berkeley (1993)Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Clearwater, S. (ed.): Market-Based Control: A Paradigm for Distributed Resource Allocation. World Scientific Press, Singapore (1995)Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Franklin, M., Reiter, M.: The Design and Implementation of a Secure Auction Service. IEEE Transactions on Software Engineering 22(5), 302–312 (1996)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Gagliano, R.A., Fraser, M.D., Schaefer, M.E.: Auction allocation of computing resources. Communications of the ACM 38(6), 88–102 (1995)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Garcia, P., Gimenéz, E., Godo, L., Rodríguez-Aguilar, J.A.: Possibilistic-based design of bidding strategies in electronic auctions. In: The 13th biennial European Conference on Artificial Intelligence, ECAI 1998 (1998)Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Huberman, B.A., Clearwater, S.: A multi-agent system for controlling builging environments. In: Proceedings of the First International Conference on Multi-Agent Systems (ICMAS 1995), pp. 171–176. AAAI Press, Menlo Park (1995)Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Lamport, L., Shostak, R., Pease, M.: The Byzantine generals problem. ACM Transactions on Programming Languages and Systems 4(3), 382–401 (1982)zbMATHCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Lynch, N.: Distributed Algorithms. Morgan Kaufmann, San Francisco (1996) ISBN 1-55860-348-4Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Martín, F.J., Plaza, E., Rodríguez-Aguilar, J.A.: An infrastructure for agent-based systems: An interagent approach. International Journal of Intelligent Systems (1998)Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Milner, R.: The Polyadic π-Calculus: a Tutorial. Preprint of Proceedings International Summer School on Logic and Algebra of Specification (1991)Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Nestmann, U.: Calculi for mobile processes, available through
  12. 12.
    North, D.: Institutions, Institutional Change and Economics Performance. Cambridge U. P., New York (1990)Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Padget, J.A., Bradford, R.J.: A π -calculus model of the spanish fishmarket. In: Noriega, P., Sierra, C. (eds.) AMET 1998 and AMEC 1998. LNCS (LNAI), vol. 1571, pp. 166–188. Springer, Heidelberg (1999)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Pierce, B.C.: Foundational calculi for programming languages. In: Tucker, A.B. (ed.) Handbook of Computer Science and Engineering, ch. 139. CRC Press, Boca Raton (1996)Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Pierce, B.C., Turner, D.N.: Pict: A Programming Language Based on the Pi-Calculus. Technical Report 476, Indiana University (March 1997)Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Rodríguez, J.A., Martin, F.J., Garcia, P., Noriega, P., Sierra, C.: Towards a formal specification of complex social structures in multi-agent systems. In: Collaboration between Human and Artificial Societies 1997. LNCS (LNAI), vol. 1624, pp. 289–305. Springer, Heidelberg (1999)Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Rodríguez, J.A., Noriega, P., Sierra, C., Padget, J.A.: FM96.5 A Java-based Electronic Auction House. In: Second International Conference on The Practical Application of Intelligent Agents and Multi-Agent Technology: PAAM 1997(1997)Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Varian, H.R.: Economic mechanism design for computerized agents. In: First USENIX Workshop on Electronic Commerce, USENIX, New York, pp. 13–21 (July 1995)Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Ygge, F., Akkermans, H.: Power load management as a computational market. In: Proceedings of the Second International Conference on Multi-Agent Systems, ICMAS 1996 (1996)Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Ygge, F., Akkermans, H.: Making a case for multi-agent systems. In: Boman, M., Van de Velde, W. (eds.) MAAMAW 1997. LNCS (LNAI), vol. 1237, pp. 156–176. Springer, Heidelberg (1997)Google Scholar
  21. 21.

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marc Esteva
    • 1
  • Julian Padget
    • 2
  1. 1.Artificial Intelligence Research Institute, IIIA, Spanish Council for Scientific Research, CSICBellaterra, BarcelonaSpain
  2. 2.Department of Mathematical SciencesUniversity of BathBATHUK

Personalised recommendations