Professor Costas Courcoubetis
Engineering Systems and Design
Singapore University of Technology and Design


In community sensing environments, multiple users make available sensors from their smartphones or other devices to applications that process this information to offer new services. There are economic problems of cost-sharing to be addressed in this environment since sensors are costly to turn on and applications are willing to support part of the cost of the sensors they need. We assume that the interaction between suppliers and consumers of the sensor information takes place via middleware which manages supply and demand efficiently. We seek optimal pricing schemes for sensor usage that maximize the social welfare while balancing the cost of the system, and take into account the fact that a sensor that is turned on for one application can be used by multiple others at no extra cost. This interesting feature of a sensor system means that there are positive externalities to take into account. Specifically, the more customers (applications) that use the system and hence the more sensors are typically on, the less must new sensors be lit when a new customer arrives in the system.

We propose models to analyze exactly sensor systems of small sizes (1 and 2), and also large systems when sensor costs and demand have some uniform characteristics. For large systems, we show that optimal prices take a simple form with a component that is proportional to the sensors that the customer needs to turn on at the given state of the system. We also analyze the transient control problem and formulate some interesting conjectures, namely that when one uses the optimal prices for the steady-state operation, the resulting dynamical system has only one stable equilibrium, and that is where social welfare is maximised.

Speaker Bio

Prof. Costas A Courcoubetis was born in Athens, Greece and received his Diploma (1977) from the National Technical University of Athens, Greece, in Electrical and Mechanical Engineering, his MS (1980) and PhD (1982) from the University of California, Berkeley, in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. He was MTS at the Mathematics Research Center, Bell Laboratories, Professor in the Computer Science Department at the University of Crete, Professor in the Department of Informatics at the Athens University of Economics and Business, and since 2013 Professor in ESD and ISTD Pillars, SUTD. His current research interests are economics and performance analysis of networks and Internet technologies with applications in the development of pricing schemes that reduce congestion and enhance stability and robustness, regulation policy, smart grids and energy systems, resource sharing and auctions. Besides leading a large number of research projects in these areas he has also published over 100 papers in scientific journals such as Operations Research, Mathematics of Operations Research, Journal on Applied Probability, ToN, IEEE Transactions in Communications, IEEE JSAC, SIAM Journal on Computing, etc. and in conferences such as FOCS, STOC, LICS, INFOCOM, GLOBCOM, ITC, ACM SIGMETRICS. His work has over 12000 citations according to the Google Scholar. He is the co-author with Richard Weber for “Pricing Communication Networks: Economics, Technology and Modeling” (Wiley, 2003).

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