David C. Parkes

David C. Parkes

  • George F. Colony Professor of Computer Science; Harvard College Professor
  • Area Dean for Computer Science


The Internet embodies a new paradigm of distributed open computer networks, in which entities--users and computational devices--are not cooperative, but self-interested, with private information and goals. Computational mechanism design is the problem of designing the incentives within a system, or the "rules of the game," to compute optimal solutions to distributed optimization problems despite this self-interest.

An emerging area in both artificial intelligence and theoretical computer science, computational mechanism design lies at the interface of computer science, game theory, and economics. Limited and/or costly computation, both at the network and at the level of distributed computational agents, coupled with the inherent combinatorial complexity of many interesting problem domains (e.g. those in scheduling and resource allocation) quickly break naive implementations of classic game-theoretic mechanisms. In computational mechanism design we resolve these computational problems, while seeking to retain useful economic and game-theoretic properties.

Electronic commerce presents a rich application domain, for example to support automated negotiation across and within groups of individuals and businesses. There are many other applications, for example to network routing and multi-cast problems, and to distributed scheduling problems.

Contact Information

Office:229 Maxwell Dworkin
Office Phone:(617) 384-8130
Lab Name:EconCS
Assistant:Ann Marie King
Assistant Office:Maxwell Dworkin 114
Assistant Phone:617-496-1447
Research Mgr: Tara Araque

Primary Teaching Area

Positions & Employment

Harvard School/Division of Engineering and Applied Sciences

  • July 2008-Present: Gordon McKay Professor of Computer Science
  • June 2005-July 2008: John L. Loeb Associate Professor of Natural Sciences
  • July 2001-June 2005: Assistant Professor of Computer Science

Ecole Polytechnique Federale Lausanne

  • September 2008-January 2009: Visiting Professor of Computer Science

The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania

  • Spring 2001: Lecturer of Operations and Information Management

IBM T.J. Watson Research Center

  • Summer 2000: Research Intern

Xerox Palo Alto Research Center

  • Summer 1997: Research Intern

Other Experience & Professional Membership

  • General Chair, 11th ACM Conference on Electronic Commerce (EC'10), June 2010
  • Treasurer, International Foundation on Autonomous Agents and Multiagent Systems (IFAAMAS), 2008-Present
  • Visitor to Semester Programme on Mechanism Design, Hausdorf Institute, Bonn, Germany, June 2009
  • Co-Organizer, Radcliffe Institute Science Symposium on Improving Decision Making: Interdisciplinary Lessons from the Natural and Social Sciences, April 2009
  • Co-Organizer, Radcliffe Exploratory Seminar on Cooperation and Human Systems Design, Radcliffe Institute, Cambridge, MA, March 2009
  • Member, AAAI Presidential Panel on Concerns about Long-Term AI Futures, Asilomar Conference Center, Pacific Grove CA, February 2009
  • Program Co-Chair, 7th International Joint Conference on Autonomous Agents and Multi-Agent Systems (AAMAS'08), May 2008
  • Program Co-Chair, 8th ACM Conference on Electronic Commerce (EC'07), June 2007
  • Editor, Games and Economic Behavior, with responsibility to Computer Science, Auctions and Mechanism Design, Sept. 2007- Present
  • Associate Editor, Journal of Autonomous Agents & Multi-Agent Systems, 2007-Present
  • Associate Editor, INFORMS Journal on Computing, 2009- Present
  • Associate Editor, Journal of Artificial Intelligence Research, 2003-2007
  • Associate Editor, Electronic Commerce Research, 2002-2009
  • Workshops Chair, 7th ACM Conference on Electronic Commerce (EC'06), June 2006
  • Tutorials Chair, 3rd International Joint Conference on Autonomous Agents and Multiagent Systems (AAMAS'04), July 2004.
  • Tutorials Chair, 5th ACM Conference on Electronic Commerce (EC'04), June 2004.
  • North Americas' Sponsorship Chair, 2nd International Joint Conference on Autonomous Agents and Multiagent Systems (AAMAS'03), July 2003
  • Steering Committee Chair, Workshop on the Economics of Networks, Systems and Computation (NetECON)
  • Steering Committee Member, Workshop on Agent-Mediated Electronic Commerce (AMEC)
  • Co-Organizer, 1st International Workshop on Agent Technology for Sensor Networks (ATSN-07), May 2007
  • Co-Organizer, Radcliffe Exploratory Seminar on Dynamic Networks: Behavior, Optimization and Design, October 2006
  • Co-Organizer, Radcliffe Exploratory Seminar on Revealed and Latent Preferences: Economic and Computational Approaches, May 2004
  • Program Co-Chair, Workshop on Computational Issues in Auction Design, as part of the DIMACS Special Focus on Computational and Socio-Economic Sciences, October 2004
  • Program Chair, 2nd Workshop on Trading Agent Design and Analysis (TADA'04), July 2004
  • Program Co-Chair, 2nd Workshop on Economics of Peer-to-Peer Systems (P2PECON'04), June 2004
  • Program Co-Chair, AAMAS Workshop on Agent Mediated Electronic Commerce V (AMEC-V), July 2003
  • Program Co-Chair, AAMAS Workshop on Agent Mediated Electronic Commerce IV (AMEC-IV), July 2002
  • Conference Senior Program Committees: AAMAS'03, AAMAS'04, IJCAI'05, AAMAS'06
  • Conference Program Committees: Agents'99, Agents'00, Agents'01, AAMAS'02, AAAI'02, EC'03, IJCAI'03, AAAI'03, ICAC'04, AAAI'04, AAMAS'05, UAI'06, AAAI'06, ICEC'06, AI&Math'06, Internet Monetization Track at WWW2010, SOFSEM'10
  • Workshop Program Committees: IJCAI'01 Economic Models and Auctions Workshop, P2PECON'03, TADA'03, PINS'04, IJCAI'05 Workshop on Advances in Preference Handling, AAAI'05 Multiagent Learning Workshop, IBC'05, WINE'05, AMEC'05, AAAI'06
  • Workshop on Auction Mechanisms for Robot Coordination, ICAC'06 International
  • Workshop on Smart Grid Technologies, GECON'06, GECON'07, AAMAS'07 Workshop on Adaptive and Learning Agents, Grid'07 Workshop on Economic Models and Algorithms for
  • Grid Systems, NetEcon-IBC'07, HCOMP'09, GameSec'10
  • Journal Refereeing (Computer Science): J. of Artificial Intelligence Research, J. of Computer and Systems Sciences, ACM Transactions on Internet Technology, Naval Research Logistics, Artificial Intelligence J., IEEE Transactions on Computers, IEEE J. on Selected Areas in Communications, IEEE Transactions on the Internet, IEEE Transactions on Dependable and Secure Computing, J. of Algorithms, IEEE Transactions on Systems, Man, and Cybernetics{Part C: Applications and Reviews, J. of Autonomous Agents and Multi-Agent Systems, Management Science, J. of the ACM, IEEE Intelligent Systems, J. of Machine Learning Research, Communications of the ACM, Annals of Mathematics and AI, Computational Intelligence, Computer Networks J., Decision Analysis, Distributed Computing, Decision Support Systems, J. of Computer and Systems Sciences, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Theoretical Computer Science A, SIAM J. on Computing, Journal Refereeing (Economics and Business): Decision Analysis, Group Decision and Negotiation J., International J. of Game Theory, Games and Economic Behavior, American Economic Review, Economic J., J. of Decision Support Systems and Electronic Commerce, Electronic Commerce Research and Applications, Econometrica, J. of Economic Theory, Managerial and Decision Economics, Production and Operations Management, Theoretical Economics, Operations Research, Mathematics of Operations Research, IIE Transactions. Conference Refereeing: SODA'10, FOCS'01, AAAI'02 (student abstracts), STOC'02, NIPS'03, HOTOS-IX, PET'03, EC'04, STACS'04, AAAI'04, STOC'05, SIGCOMM'05, SODA'06, LATIN'06, FOCS'07
  • Grant reviewing: NSF Digital Society and Technologies (panelist), NSF Human Computer Interaction (panelist), NSF Artificial Intelligence and Cognitive Science (panelist), NSF
  • IGERT (panelist), Israel Science Foundation, Canada NSERC.
  • Research agency panels: DARPA ISAT Panel on Network as Economy Spring '04, DARPA ISAT Panel on Distributed Cognitive Systems" Summer '04, NSF Workshop on Cyberinfrastructure for the Social Sciences Spring '05, AFOSR Workshop on Complex Networks" Spring '07


  • Named one of Harvard Class of 2010 Favorite Professors
  • Harvard FAS Roslyn Abramson Award for Teaching, Spring 2008
  • Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship, 2005-2007
  • Advised six Thomas Temple Hoopes Prize winning senior theses
  • Nominated for Everett Mendelsohn Award for Excellence in Mentoring, Spring 2007 and 2009
  • NSF Early Career Development Award, 2003-2008
  • IBM Faculty Partnership Award, 2002 and 2003
  • IBM Graduate Fellowship Award, 2000-2001
  • AAMAS '06 Best Paper Award for "Instantiating the contingent bids model of truthful interdependent value auctions" (with Takayuki Ito)
  • Participant, National Academy of Sciences Kavli Frontiers of Science Symposium, Nov 2007
  • Thouron Scholarship to study at the University of Pennsylvania, 1995-1996. Awarded to
    5-6 graduating students in the U.K. each year
  • Lord Crewe Scholarship, Lincoln College, University of Oxford, 1992-1995