3620 South Vermont Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90089

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David Kempe, USC

Abstract: Team formation is ubiquitous in many sectors: education, labor markets, sports, etc. A team's success depends on its members' latent types, which are not directly observable but can be (partially) inferred from past performances. From the viewpoint of a principal trying to select teams, this leads to a natural exploration-exploitation trade-off: retain successful teams that are discovered early, or reassign agents to learn more about their types? We study a natural model for online team formation, where a principal repeatedly partitions a group of agents into teams. Agents have binary latent types, each team comprises two members, and a team's performance is a symmetric function of its members' types. Over multiple rounds, the principal selects matchings over agents and incurs regret equal to the deficit in the number of successful teams versus the optimal matching for the given function. Our work provides a complete characterization of the regret landscape for all symmetric functions of two binary inputs. In particular, we develop team-selection policies that, despite being agnostic of model parameters, achieve optimal or near-optimal regret against an adaptive adversary.


Our analysis for the case when the function is AND (a team succeeds iff both its members are skilled) leaves just some tiny gaps for future improvements.
The gaps for OR are larger, and it appears that a solution would likely have to draw on interesting insights about the combinatorial structure of the unions of matchings.


Joint work with: Matthew Eichhorn, Siddhartha Banerjee


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