Deep Contract Design via Discontinuous Networks

Tonghan Wang, Paul Dütting, Dmitry Ivanov, Inbal Talgam-Cohen, David C. Parkes

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review


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.

Original languageEnglish
JournalAdvances in Neural Information Processing Systems
StatePublished - 2023
Event37th Conference on Neural Information Processing Systems, NeurIPS 2023 - New Orleans, United States
Duration: 10 Dec 202316 Dec 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Information Systems
  • Signal Processing


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