Adaptive Contract Design for Crowdsourcing

author: Chien-Ju Ho, Computer Science Department, University of California, Los Angeles, UCLA
published: Oct. 6, 2014,   recorded: December 2013,   views: 19

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Crowdsourcing markets have emerged as a popular platform for matching available workers with tasks to complete. The payment for a particular task is typically set by the task’s requester, and may be adjusted based on the quality of the completed work, for example, through the use of “bonus” pay- ments. In this paper, we study the requester’s problem of dynamically adjusting quality-contingent payments for tasks. We consider a multi-round version of the well-known principal-agent model, whereby in each round a worker makes a strategic choice of the effort level which is not directly observable by the requester. In particular, our formulation significantly generalizes the budget-free online task pricing problems studied in prior work. We treat this problem as a multi-armed bandit problem, with each “arm” representing a potential contract. To cope with the large (and in fact, infinite) number of arms, we propose a new algorithm, AgnosticZooming, which discretizes the contract space into a finite number of regions, effectively treating each region as a single arm. This discretization is adaptively refined, so that more promising regions of the contract space are eventually discretized more finely. We provide a full analysis of this algorithm, showing that it achieves regret sublinear in the time horizon and substantially improves over non-adaptive discretization (which is the only competing approach in the literature).

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