Visualizing combinatorial auctions

Journal article

J. Hsiao, C. G. Healey
The Visual Computer, vol. 27(6-8), 2011, pp. 633-643

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Hsiao, J., & Healey, C. G. (2011). Visualizing combinatorial auctions. The Visual Computer, 27(6-8), 633–643.

Hsiao, J., and C. G. Healey. “Visualizing Combinatorial Auctions.” The Visual Computer 27, no. 6-8 (2011): 633–643.

Hsiao, J., and C. G. Healey. “Visualizing Combinatorial Auctions.” The Visual Computer, vol. 27, no. 6-8, 2011, pp. 633–43.


Visualizing three combintorial auction stages: concentric rings represent different bundles of goods, color and blur shows bid price and interest in a bundle, and white rectangles identify a winning bidder for a bundle

We propose a novel scheme to visualize combinatorial auctions; auctions that involve the simultaneous sale of multiple items. Buyers bid on complementary sets of items, or bundles, where the utility of securing all the items in the bundle is more than the sum of the utility of the individual items. Our visualizations use concentric rings divided into arcs to visualize the bundles in an auction. The arcs’ positions and overlaps allow viewers to identify and follow bidding strategies. Properties of color, texture, and motion are used to represent different attributes of the auction, including active bundles, prices bid for each bundle, winning bids, and bidders’ interests. Keyframe animations are used to show changes in an auction over time. We demonstrate our visualization technique on a standard testbed dataset generated by researchers to evaluate combinatorial auction bid strategies, and on recent Federal Communications Commission (FCC) auctions designed to allocate wireless spectrum licenses to cell phone service providers.