Computing Distinguished Lecture Series: Networks and economics: incentives, auctions and pricing


Dr. Peter Key




Microsoft Research's European Research Centre

Systems and Networking Group


Thursday 30th April, 16:00, C60b/c, InfoLab21




The introduction of new network services or new network architectures cannot ignore questions related to economics or incentives.   This is manifest in current protocol tussles in the Internet community and reflected in the í░Net Neutralityí▒ debate.   We argue that any resource allocation problem needs to consider incentives, as well as algorithm design.    We illustrate this by looking at questions of multipath routing, congestion control and network pricing using both Stochastic Modelling and Game Theory.  We consider three different application areas: the wide area  (the Internet), wireless networks and  Home Networks,  and describe practical implementations that we have built at MSR Cambridge.


Network resource allocation problems have an intriguing connection with ad-auctions (such as those used by Microsoft Live or Google for ad-sponsored search).  We show this connection and then switch gear to look at some specific questions related to auctions, giving examples from two large data sets: snapshots of Adcenter data, and Forza data.  The Forza data acts an artificial economy – users bid with points for items.  We present some preliminary findings and unsolved problems in this exciting area.



Dr. Peter Key


Peter Key went to St John's College received the BA degree in Mathematics from Oxford University in 1978, and an MSc (from UCL) and PhD from London University in 1979 and 1985, both in Statistics. From 1979 to 1982 he was a Research Assistant in the Statistics and Computer Science department of Royal Holloway College, London University

He joined BT Labs in 1982, working in the field of Teletraffic Engineering and Performance Evaluation, where he was involved with the development and introduction of DAR (Dynamic Alternative Routing) into BTí»s trunk network. At BT he led a mathematical services group, and 1992 ventured in to ATM to lead performance group. In 1995 he led a Performance Engineering team and then managed the Network Transport area.


He joined Microsoft Research's European Research Centre in Cambridge, U.K., in 1998 where he is a Principal Researcher, co-leading the Systems and Networking area. His current research is on multipath routing in wired and wireless networks, home networking, and the economics of networks and of ad-auctions. His other research interests include Distributed Control, Application Performance, Quality of Service and Stochastic Networks.


He is a Visiting Fellow at the Statistical Laboratory, Cambridge, and a Fellow of the Institution of Engineering and Technology (FIET). In 1999 he was Technical co-chair of the 16th International Teletraffic Congress (ITC) , and Program co-chair for Sigmetrics 2006.