An Ant Colony Approach for the Winner Determination Problem

  • Abhishek Ray
  • Mario Ventresca
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 10782)


Combinatorial auctions are those where bidders can bid on bundles of items. These auctions can lead to more economically efficient allocations but determining the winners is an NP-complete problem. In this paper, we propose an ant colony technique for approximating solutions to hard instances of this problem. Hard instances are those that are unsolvable within reasonable time by CPLEX and have more than 1000 bids on 500 or more unique items. Such instances occur in real world applications such as 4th Party Logistics (4PL) auctions, online resource time sharing auctions and the sale of spectrum licenses by the Federal Communications Commission. We perform experiments on 10 such instances to show and compare the performance of the proposed approach to CPLEX (Branch-and-Bound), stochastic greedy search, random walk and a memetic algorithm. Results indicate that in a given runtime, CPLEX results lie within the third quartile of the values generated using our approach for 3 of 10 of the instances. In addition, CPLEX results are on average \(0.24\%\) worse than best values reported using our approach for 5 of 10 instances. Further, our approach performs statistically significantly better (\(p< 0.01\)) than other heuristics on all instances.


Ant colony Auctions Winner determination 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Krannert School of ManagementPurdue UniversityWest LafayetteUSA
  2. 2.School of Industrial EngineeringPurdue UniversityWest LafayetteUSA

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