Abstract

We analyze the computational complexity of market maker pricing algorithms for combinatorial prediction markets. We focus on Hanson’s popular logarithmic market scoring rule market maker (LMSR). Our goal is to implicitly maintain correct LMSR prices across an exponentially large outcome space. We examine both permutation combinatorics, where outcomes are permutations of objects, and Boolean combinatorics, where outcomes are combinations of binary events. We look at three restrictive languages that limit what traders can bet on. Even with severely limited languages, we find that LMSR pricing is #P-hard, even when the same language admits polynomial-time matching without the market maker. We then propose an approximation technique for pricing permutation markets based on an algorithm for online permutation learning. The connections we draw between LMSR pricing and the literature on online learning with expert advice may be of independent interest.