Explain the scope of mechanism design relating it to implementation theory and game theory

Mechanism Design:

Mechanism design is a branch of economic theory that focuses on designing rules or mechanisms to achieve specific economic outcomes in situations where information is incomplete or private.

The goal is to create mechanisms that align the incentives of self-interested individuals with a desirable social objective. This field originated from the work of Leonid Hurwicz, Eric Maskin, and Roger Myerson, who were awarded the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences in 2007 for their contributions.

Key Components of Mechanism Design:

  1. Private Information:
  • Mechanism design often deals with scenarios where individuals have private information that is not known to others or the designer.
  1. Incentive Compatibility:
  • The mechanisms designed aim to incentivize individuals to truthfully reveal their private information, even when they have an incentive to misreport for personal gain.
  1. Social Choice Functions:
  • Mechanism design considers how to aggregate individual preferences or information to determine a collective or social choice.

Relationship with Game Theory:

Game theory is a broader field that studies strategic interactions among rational decision-makers. Mechanism design is a specific application of game theory that deals with designing rules or mechanisms for strategic interactions. In the context of mechanism design, the interactions are often designed to achieve certain outcomes or objectives.

  • Games and Mechanisms:
  • A mechanism can be viewed as a game where individuals have private information, and the designer aims to create rules that induce a particular equilibrium outcome.

Relationship with Implementation Theory:

Implementation theory is a subfield of mechanism design that specifically focuses on studying the feasibility of implementing certain outcomes or social choice functions. It explores whether a given social choice function can be implemented through a mechanism, taking into account the individuals’ incentives and private information.

  • Feasibility and Implementation:
  • Mechanism design and implementation theory are closely related because, in mechanism design, the designer seeks to implement a particular outcome or social choice function. Implementation theory provides tools and frameworks to analyze whether such implementation is feasible.

Scope and Applications:

  1. Auction Design:
  • Mechanism design is extensively applied in auction theory to design rules for conducting auctions that achieve desirable outcomes, such as maximizing revenue or allocating resources efficiently.
  1. Market Design:
  • In market design, mechanism design principles are used to design rules for various markets to ensure efficiency, fairness, and desirable outcomes.
  1. Public Policy:
  • Mechanism design has applications in public policy, such as designing mechanisms for allocating public resources, spectrum auctions, and public goods provision.
  1. Game Theory Applications:
  • The principles of mechanism design extend to various game-theoretic situations, including negotiations, voting systems, and strategic interactions in economic and social contexts.


  1. Incomplete Information:
  • Dealing with incomplete information is a significant challenge in mechanism design, as individuals may have private information that affects the outcome.
  1. Implementation Feasibility:
  • Ensuring that the designed mechanism can feasibly implement the desired outcome poses a challenge, and implementation theory addresses these feasibility considerations.

In summary, mechanism design is a branch of economic theory that uses game-theoretic principles to design rules or mechanisms that achieve specific objectives. It is closely related to implementation theory, which focuses on the feasibility of implementing desired outcomes. Together, these fields provide valuable tools for designing rules in situations where strategic interactions and incomplete information play a crucial role.

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