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Approximating the Nash Social Welfare with Budget-Additive Valuations


Mehlhorn,  Kurt
Algorithms and Complexity, MPI for Informatics, Max Planck Society;

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Garg, J., Hoefer, M., & Mehlhorn, K. (2017). Approximating the Nash Social Welfare with Budget-Additive Valuations. Retrieved from http://arxiv.org/abs/1707.04428.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-002D-E7D6-2
We present the first constant-factor approximation algorithm for maximizing the Nash social welfare when allocating indivisible items to agents with budget-additive valuation functions. Budget-additive valuations represent an important class of submodular functions. They have attracted a lot of research interest in recent years due to many interesting applications. For every $\varepsilon > 0$, our algorithm obtains a $(2.404 + \varepsilon)$-approximation in time polynomial in the input size and $1/\varepsilon$. Our algorithm relies on rounding an approximate equilibrium in a linear Fisher market where sellers have earning limits (upper bounds on the amount of money they want to earn) and buyers have utility limits (upper bounds on the amount of utility they want to achieve). In contrast to markets with either earning or utility limits, these markets have not been studied before. They turn out to have fundamentally different properties. Although the existence of equilibria is not guaranteed, we show that the market instances arising from the Nash social welfare problem always have an equilibrium. Further, we show that the set of equilibria is not convex, answering a question of [Cole et al, EC 2017]. We design an FPTAS to compute an approximate equilibrium, a result that may be of independent interest.