Deep Contract Design via Discontinuous Networks

Published: 21 Sept 2023, Last Modified: 02 Nov 2023NeurIPS 2023 posterEveryoneRevisionsBibTeX
Keywords: Automated contract design, discontinuous neural networks
TL;DR: We initiate the study of deep learning for the automated design of optimal contracts by introducing discontinuity into fully-connected networks with ReLU activation to better model the contractual agreements between the principal and the agent.
Abstract: Contract design involves a principal who establishes contractual agreements about payments for outcomes that arise from the actions of an agent. In this paper, we initiate the study of deep learning for the automated design of optimal contracts. We introduce a novel representation: the Discontinuous ReLU (DeLU) network, which models the principal's utility as a discontinuous piecewise affine function of the design of a contract where each piece corresponds to the agent taking a particular action. DeLU networks implicitly learn closed-form expressions for the incentive compatibility constraints of the agent and the utility maximization objective of the principal, and support parallel inference on each piece through linear programming or interior-point methods that solve for optimal contracts. We provide empirical results that demonstrate success in approximating the principal's utility function with a small number of training samples and scaling to find approximately optimal contracts on problems with a large number of actions and outcomes.
Supplementary Material: zip
Submission Number: 5504