The CAT Market Design Tournament ran between 2007 and 2011.
The classic Trading-Agent Competition (TAC Classic) and the supply chain scenario (TAC SCM) were motivated by the desire to develop automated strategies for buyer and seller software agents in marketplaces. The trading rules or interaction mechanisms are fixed by the TAC Classic/TAC SCM organizers, and competition entrants compete with one another by creating agents that seek to trade under these fixed rules.
In contrast, the CAT Competition is the exact reverse of this: The software trading agents are created by the organizers of the competition, and as an entrant you will compete by defining rules for matching buyers and sellers and setting commission fees for prividing this service. Entrants compete against each other in attracting buyers and sellers and making profits. This is achieved by having effective matching rules and setting appropriate fees that are a good trade-off between making profit and attracting traders.
The operation of the CAT Tournament is an abstraction of the competition between trading marketplaces that can be seen in the competition between stock markets (such as the London Stock Exchange, NYSE, Nasdaq, etc) and the many "dark pool" markets that have arisen over the last two decades.
CAT is not only the reverse of TAC, but also refers to Catallactics, the science of economic exchanges.
The Aims of the Tournament
The objective of the Tournament is to encourage research in the design and application of computational market mechanisms, particularly mechanisms robust to and/or able to adapt automatically to changing environmental conditions.
The goals of entrants (called specialists) to the Tournament are:
- To design the market rules for effectively matching buyers and sellers given a dynamic set of traders.
- To compete against other matchmakers (specialists) by attracting traders to your own market.
- To maximise profits by setting appropriate commission fees.
The winner of the Tournament will be decided on the basis of multiple criteria, including profits, market share and transaction effectiveness.
Tournament Operation and Software
The traders (buyers and sellers) in the CAT marketplace all reside at the server, and are programmed by the Tournament organizers. Entrants to the game create their own marketplace (called a specialist) which undertakes matchmaking of potential buyers and sellers locally — ie, at client-side. The bids and asks from potential traders are communicated from the server to each specialist client over the Internet. After matchmaking, each specialist client then communicates the results of matches back to the server.
A client-server architecture was adopted to distribute processing loads, and to minimize the possibility that mal-functioning or malicious specialists could disrupt game operations.?
The current schedule is as follows (revised 24 June 2011):
- An API, other documentation and the current JCAT Tournament platform software are available at the sourceforge site given below. A revised version (version 0.19) of the Tournament platform for 2011 is now available from sourceforge (see below for URL).
- In Northern Spring 2011, it will be possible to register an expression of interest to participate in the 2011 Tournament.
- Entrants to the CAT Tournament also need to register through the Trading Agent Competition (TAC) system, here. Please register by ??30 April, 2011 so we can know how many entrants will be participating.
- Trial games will be held on 7-8 July 2011, starting at 1:00am GMT. The main purpose of the trials is to ensure that entrants are able to connect to the game server at Melbourne across the Internet and to participate successfully in the game.
- The finals of the 2011 CAT Tournament will run on 15, 17, and 19 July 2011, to coincide with the TADA workshop at IJCAI 2011 (17 July 2011). All finals games will commence at 07:00am GMT.
Tournament entrants are assessed according to a multi-criteria scoring system. The details of the assessment process are provided in the documents referenced and linked below, namely: K. Cai et al. (2009): Overview of CAT: A Market Design Competition, version 2.0.
The documentation on the CAT Tournament, including the participant APIand a version of the CAT tournament software platform, is available at the JCAT site at sourceforge:
Note that there are document files loaded there (in PDF),available for download from the box labelled “TAC Market Design Competition Platform”. This documentation is still preliminary, and may be revised in the light of ongoing software development of the CAT tournament platform.
Revised documents describing the JCAT software platform and the operation of the 2009 CAT Tournament can be found here:
K. Cai, E. Gerding, P. McBurney, J. Niu, S. Parsons and S. Phelps : Overview of CAT: A Market Design Competition. Version 2.0. Technical Report ULCS-09-005, Department of Computer Science, University of Liverpool, Liverpool, UK.
J. Niu, A. Mmoloke, P. McBurney and S. Parsons : CATP: A Communication Protocol for CAT Games Version 2.0. Technical Report ULCS-09-012, Department of Computer Science, University of Liverpool, Liverpool, UK.
If you plan to participate in the CAT Tournament, you might also be interested in the following research papers, which have resulted from analyses of the previous Tournament, from simulations using the JCAT Platform or from analysis of marketplace competition. Some of this research has been supported financially by the UK EPSRC, under grant GR/T10657/01 and associated grants.
- J. Niu, K. Cai, S. Parsons, E. Gerding, P. McBurney, T. Moyaux, S. Phelps and D. Shield : JCAT: A platform for the TAC Market Design Competition. In: L. Padgham, D. Parkes, J. P. Mueller and S. Parsons (Editors): Proceedings of the Seventh International Conference on Autonomous Agents and Multi-Agent Systems (AAMAS 2008). Estoril, Portugal, May 2008. (PDF)
- J. Niu, K. Cai, E. Gerding, P. McBurney and S. Parsons : Characterizing effective auction mechanisms: Insights from the 2007 TAC Market Design Competition. In: L. Padgham, D. Parkes, J. P. Mueller and S. Parsons (Editors): Proceedings of the Seventh International Conference on Autonomous Agents and Multi-Agent Systems (AAMAS 2008). Estoril, Portugal, May 2008. (PDF)
- J. Niu, K. Cai, P. McBurney and S. Parsons : An analysis of entries in the first TAC Market Design Competition. In: L. Jain, B. Faltings, M. Gini and T. Terano (Editors): IEEE/WIC/ACM International Conference on Intelligent Agent Technology (IAT 2008), Sydney, Australia, 2008. (PDF)
- K. Cai, J. Niu and S. Parsons : On the economic effects of competition between double auction markets. Proceedings of the 10th Workshop on Agent-Mediated Electronic Commerce (AMEC 2008). Estoril, Portugal, May 2008. (PDF)
- M. L. Gruman and M. Narayana : Applications of classifying bidding strategies for the CAT Tournament. Proceedings of the International Trading Agent Design and Analysis Workshop (TADA 2008). Chicago, IL, USA, July 2008. (PDF)
- A. Petric, V. Podobnik, A. Grguric and M. Zemljic : Designing an effective e-market: an overview of the CAT agent. Proceedings of the International Trading Agent Design and Analysis Workshop (TADA 2008). Chicago, IL, USA, July 2008. (PDF)
- P. Vytelingum, I. A. Vetsikas, B. Shi and N. R. Jennings : IAMwildCat: The winning strategy for the TAC market design competition. Proceedings of the 18th European Conference on AI (ECAI-2008). Patras, Greece, July 2008. (PDF)
- J. Sohn, S. Lee and T. Mullen : Impact of misalignment of trading agent strategy under a multiple market. Proceedings of the Conference on Auctions, Market Mechanisms and Their Applications (AMMA-2009). Boston, MA, USA, May 2009. (PDF)
- How specialised are specialists? Generalisation properties of entries from the 2008 TAC Market Design Competition. In: E. Gerding (Editor): Workshop on Trading Agent Design and Analysis (TADA 2009), IJCAI 2009, Pasadena, CAI. (PDF)
- Attracting intra-marginal traders across multiple markets. In: E. Gerding (Editor): Workshop on Trading Agent Design and Analysis (TADA 2009), IJCAI 2009, Pasadena, CAI. (PDF)
- CAT 2008 post-tournament evaluation: The Mertacor’s perspective. In: E. Gerding (Editor): Workshop on Trading Agent Design and Analysis (TADA 2009), IJCAI 2009, Pasadena, CAI. (PDF)
- J. Niu, K. Cai, S. Parsons, P. McBurney and E. Gerding : What the 2007 TAC Market Design Game tells us about effective auction mechanisms. Autonomous Agents and Multi-Agent Systems. Special Issue on Market-Based Control of Complex Computational Systems. 21 (2): 172-203.
- J. Niu, K. Cai, S. Parsons, M. Fasli and X. Yao : A grey-box approach to automated mechanism design. In: AMEC/TADA 2010, pp. 47-61, Lecture Notes in Business Information Processing (LNBIP) 0118, Springer, Heidelberg, Germany.
- B. Shi, E. H. Gerding, P. Vytelingum, and N. R. Jennings : Setting fees in competing double auction marketplaces: An equilibrium analysis. 12th International Workshop on Agent-Mediated Electronic Commerce (AMEC 2010), Canada, pp. 85-98.
- B. Shi, E. H. Gerding, P. Vytelingum, and N. R. Jennings : An equilibrium analysis of competing double auction marketplaces using fictitious play. In: 19th European Conference on Artificial Intelligence (ECAI 2010), Portugal, pp. 575-580.
- B. Shi, E. H. Gerding, P. Vytelingum, and N. R. Jennings : A game-theoretic analysis of market selection strategies for competing double auction marketplaces. In: 9th International Conference on Autonomous Agents and Multi-Agent Systems (AAMAS 2010), Canada, pp. 857-864.
- J. Niu, K. Cai, S. Parsons, M. Fasli and X. Yao : A grey-box approach to automated mechanism design. Journal of Electronic Commerce Research and Applications, 11(1): 24-35.
- T. Miller and J. Niu : An assessment of strategies for choosing between competitive marketplaces. Electronic Commerce Research and Applications, 11(1): 14-23.
- B. Shi, E. H. Gerding, P. Vytelingum, and N. R. Jennings : An equilibrium analysis of market selection strategies and fee strategies in competing double auction marketplaces. Autonomous Agents and Multi-Agent Systems, 26(2): 245-287.
- K. Cai, J. Niu and S. Parsons : On the effects of competition between agent-based double auction markets. Journal of Electronic Commerce Research and Applications, 13(4): 229-242.
- J. Niu : JCAT: A software tool for agent-based computational economics. In: SwarmFest 2015: The 19th Annual Meeting on Agent-Based Modeling and Simulation, Columbia, SC, USA, July 2015.
- B. Shi, E. H. Gerding and N. R. Jennings : An equilibrium analysis of trading across multiple double auction marketplaces using fictitious play. Journal of Electronic Commerce Research and Applications, 17: 134-149.
- T. Miller, J. Niu, M. Chapman and P. McBurney : An overview and evaluation of the CAT Market Design Competition. In: S-H. Chen, M. Kaboudan and Y-R. Du (Editors): The Oxford Handbook of Computational Economics and Finance. Oxford University Press.
In particular, we welcome information about any other published research arising from the CAT Tournaments, which uses the JCAT platform or which considers competition between marketplaces.
Specialists from the 2007-2011 CAT Tournaments
Because TAC games are run to promote research, entrants to the TAC games are requested to upload their entries to the TAC Agent Repository following each tournament. Many of the previous CAT Tournament entries can be found at the TAC Agent Repository (scroll down).
If you have any questions or comments, please contact CAT Tournament GameMaster:
Tim Miller (email: tmiller [at] unimelb.edu.au)
Collaboration and Sponsors
The CAT Tournament arose as a collaborative effort between the University of Liverpool (Department of Computer Science), Brooklyn College (Department of Computer and Information Science), and the University of Southampton (School of Electronics and Computer Science). During 2006-2009, the Tournament was proudly sponsored by the MBC Project, a major research project funded by the UK EPSRC as part of a research program to manage the complexity of computational systems by means of novel paradigms from other disciplines.
In 2010 and 2011, the CAT Tournament was hosted by the Department of Computer Science and Software Engineering at the University of Melbourne, Australia.
CAT Tournament Team:
Tim Miller, University of Melbourne, Australia
(CAT Gamemaster 2010-2011)
Peter McBurney, King’s College London, UK (CAT Gamemaster 2007-2009)
Dave Shield, University of Liverpool, UK
Enrico Gerding, University of Southampton, UK
Simon Parsons, Brooklyn College, CUNY, New York, USA
Jinzhong Niu, Brooklyn College, CUNY, New York, USA
Kai Cai, Brooklyn College, CUNY, New York, USA
Dan Cartwright, University of Liverpool, UK
Steve Phelps, University of Essex, UK
Benjamin Broix, Ecole des Mines de Nantes, France (2008)
Ronan Bouichet, Ecole des Mines de Nantes, France (2008)
Arthur Coussy, Ecole des Mines de Nantes, France (2007)
Mathieu Lassalle, Ecole des Mines de Nantes, France (2007)
Thierry Moyaux, University of Liverpool, UK
Elizabeth Sklar, Brooklyn College, City University of New York, USA.