Exchange market for complex goods: Theory and experiments

Eugene Fink, Josh Johnson, and Jenny Hu

Netnomics, 6(1), pages 21-42, 2004.


The modern economy includes a variety of markets, and the Internet has opened opportunities for efficient on-line trading. Researchers have developed algorithms for various auctions, which have become a popular means of on-line sales. They have also designed algorithms for exchange markets, which support fast-paced trading of standardized goods. On the other hand, they have done little work on exchanges for complex nonstandard goods, such as used cars.

We propose a formal model for trading complex goods, and present an exchange system that allows traders to describe desirable purchases and sales by multiple attributes; for example, a car buyer can specify a model, options, color, and other properties of a desirable vehicle. Furthermore, a trader can enter complex constraints on the acceptable items; for instance, a buyer can specify a set of desirable vehicles and their features. The system supports markets with up to 300,000 orders, and generates hundreds of trades per second.