I have been toying with the idea of implementing a mobile market by use of a matching algorithm. Matching algorithms are algorithms assigning members of two (usually) sets to one another. The most widely known matching algorithm was developed by David Gale and Lloyd Shapley for the case of a “marriage market” whereby men propose to women (or vice versa). The Gale-Shapley algorithm solves the marriage problem and achieves a stable match. If the algorithm is male-proposing, there is a strategic incentive for the female participants not to disclose fully their preferences. Similar problems are the hospitals/residents problem, the college admissions problem, and others.
I have approached Haiko Muller from the School of Computing in the University of Leeds and we have started a project on “Mobile Market Matching”. Currently it involves the construction of a prototype with the help of our student Jason Simpson.
We are looking to develop a mobile technology prototype capable of empowering individual buyers and sellers, and reducing the need for intermediaries in markets for perishable agricultural goods in developing countries. The prototype aims at increasing the number of transactions through the use of a two-sided matching algorithm. The construction of the prototype would involve the integration of information received via a mobile carrier with a computer-based algorithm. The main expected capabilities of the prototype are as follows:
- To transfer to a computer matching program the information received from buyers/sellers via text message about their willingness to buy/sell a given quantity, at a specified price and within specified distance.
- To match buyers’ offers and sellers’ asks on the basis of their preferences using a two-sided matching algorithm. The algorithm would be aimed at achieving either a stable or a perfect match.
- To communicate via text message the matching results to buyers and sellers. To iteratively rerun the matching algorithm when buyers/ sellers reject their matching outcomes.
One thought on “Mobile Market Matching”
This market matching stuff is very interesting, given the popularity and rapid diffusion of mobile phones in developing countries I think a market designed to harness the utility of mobile phones potentially offers significant benefits to the livelihoods of small-scale entrepreneurs and the informal market sector in DC.
I have a few questions/practical considerations that are not in the text on this page that I am sure you have answers to:
. Language, what will be the language of the text messages?
. Disputes, will there be a mechanism for dealing with abuses of the mobile market place?
. Location, is there the potential for a GPRS facility?
. Linked with the previous point, what type of technology is needed by the user? Does it require buy in from the users standpoint? If so this could prove as a considerable barrier
. I don’t know much about the Gale-Shapley algorithm, which seems like a useful approach, is it possible that there could be more than one good match? And how will this be resolved?
Anyway, these are just some quick points. I think this initiative has great promise and I look forward to working with you.
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