Mechanism design is the field of ecomics that treats institutions and procedures as variables that can be selected in order to achieve desired objectives. An important aspect of a mechanism is the communication among its participants that it requires, which complements other design features such as incentives and complexity. A calculus-based theory of communication in mechanisms is developed in this book. The value of a calculus-based approach lies in its familiarity as well as the insight into mechanisms that it provides. Results are developed concerning (i) a first order approach to the construction of mechanisms, (ii) the range of mechanisms that can be used to achieve a given objective, as well as (iii) lower bounds on the required communication.
Steven R. Williams is Professor of Economics at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign, where he has also served as head of the economics department. He earned a B.A. from Kenyon College in 1976 and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from Northwestern University in the field of mathematics in 1977 and 1982, respectively. After postdoctoral appointments at the Institute for Mathematics and its Applications at the University of Minnesota and at Bell Laboratories, he served as a faculty member at Northwestern University before moving to the University of Illinois. Professor Williams has published articles in the top journals in his field of microeconomic theory, including Econometrica, the Review of Economic Studies, and the Journal of Economic Theory.