Private matchings and allocations

Justin Hsu, Zhiyi Huang, Aaron Roth, Tim Roughgarden, Zhiwei Steven Wu

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

23 Scopus citations


We consider a private variant of the classical allocation problem: given κ goods and n agents with individual, private valuation functions over bundles of goods, how can we partition the goods amongst the agents to maximize social welfare? An important special case is when each agent desires at most one good, and specifies her (private) value for each good: in this case, the problem is exactly the maximum-weight matching problem in a bipartite graph. Private matching and allocation problems have not been considered in the differential privacy literature, and for good reason: they are plainly impossible to solve under differential privacy. Informally, the allocation must match agents to their preferred goods in order to maximize social welfare, but this preference is exactly what agents wish to hide! Therefore, we consider the problem under the relaxed constraint of joint differential privacy: for any agent i, no coalition of agents excluding i should be able to learn about the valuation function of agent i. In this setting, the full allocation is no longer published - instead, each agent is told what good to get. We first show that with a small number of identical copies of each good, it is possible to efficiently and accurately solve the maximum weight matching problem while guaranteeing joint differential privacy. We then consider the more general allocation problem, when bidder valuations satisfy the gross substitutes condition. Finally, we prove that the allocation problem cannot be solved to non-trivial accuracy under joint differential privacy without requiring multiple copies of each type of good.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationSTOC 2014 - Proceedings of the 2014 ACM Symposium on Theory of Computing
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery
Number of pages10
ISBN (Print)9781450327107
StatePublished - 2014
Event4th Annual ACM Symposium on Theory of Computing, STOC 2014 - New York, NY, United States
Duration: May 31 2014Jun 3 2014

Publication series

NameProceedings of the Annual ACM Symposium on Theory of Computing
ISSN (Print)0737-8017


Other4th Annual ACM Symposium on Theory of Computing, STOC 2014
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityNew York, NY


  • Ascending auction
  • Differential privacy
  • Gross substitutes
  • Matching

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