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    Imaras glossary

    While the common meaning of the term "auction" is well known, a Web based system such as Imaras needs to give it a specific technical meaning because there are multiple users conducting multiple auctions on possibly the same or different sets of issues in the system, via a common set of Web pages which may be visited in a different order each time. To keep things organized, each "auction" is uniquely identified by a auction instance, and defined as the complete sequence of interactions between Imaras and a particular set of users (beginning with preparation, continuing through bidding, and reaching conclusion), on a particular set of issues. Thus, each instance will be different (e.g. the auction case or counterpart may not be the same).

    An auctioneer is a party who initiates, organizes and owns an auction, through which other parties are invited to participate in the auction and bid against each other for products, services, or other contracts. In reverse auctions, the auctioneer is usually a buyer or consumer. In some situations, an auction system or software agent may play the role of auctioneer, instead of a human agent.

    A combination of options (a package) that is submitted by one bidder to the auctioneer. In Imaras, a bid consists of a package.

    A bidder is a person who participates in an auction and submits bids bids in order to compete with the other parties to win the auction. In reverse auctions, the bidders are usually sellers or service providers.

    History graph
    The bidding process can be seen only from one bidder's perspective. One dimension presents the date/time/round of the bid and the second dimension presents the bidder's ratings of the offer.

    History graph

    Interpreting offer ratings
    The rating displayed on an offer is computed from the preference ratings you provided in the first part of your auction. Remember that the other parties' rating of a package is unlikely to be the same as yours. They never see the ratings that you see on a package, since what they see is based on their initial preference ratings.
    This means that the numerical difference between the ratings of two offers will not be the same as the difference in the ratings seen by the other parties. For example, a revised offer which lowers the rating of your package by 10 points from your previous offer may only raise the auctioneer's rating of that package by 3 points or may even lower the auctioneer's rating.

    A topic of discussion that is of particular interest in a auction. Each issue has a range of alternatives or options, one of which must ultimately be outbid by one party over the others parties to win the auction.

    One of the alternative values that an issue can have. For example, the issue "Tolerable product failure rate" may have the following options, "3%", "5%" and "10%".

    A particular combination of options that has been selected across all the issues. For example, the combination of Price, Payment and Failure rate (as seen below) is a package.

    Price 3000 $
    Payment Upon delivery
    Failure rate 5%

    This is the first phase of a auction. It refers to the initial period (prior to any bid submission) when one prepares for the auction. Some activities involved in this phase include problem definition, preference elicitation, and evaluation of alternative packages.

    Rating is the core activity of pre-auction phase. The purpose of rating is to use numerical expression to clarify a party's preference and utility level of individual auction issue, option and package. In Imaras, the user is either provided with or required to specify these three ratings according to personal preference and knowledge. The utility function of an individual bidder is generated not only from the composition of the issue and option ratings but also from the decomposition of package evaluation. According to the utility function, any adjustment of the package evaluation may lead to variation of utility level of other packages.

    A trade-off is an exchange process in which a decision maker gives up partly on some issues so as to gain on other issues.

    User name
    This is a name used by Imaras to identify a "real user" for the system login. It will not be shown to your counterpart. Once a auction is set up, users will be assigned to different roles (i.e. party name) which will be displayed during the auction. A user name uniquely identifies one of the participants in a given Imaras auction.

    Utility function
    A utility function is a subjective measurement that expresses the relative value of different packages by using a numerical scale. The numerical scale used is arbitrary. It typically ranges either from 0 to 1 or from 1 to 100. The minimum number expresses the least desirable and least preferred package. The highest number represents the most desirable and preferred package.

    A winner of an auction is the bidder who outbids all the other parties in terms of the rating of the offer package from the auctioneer's perspective.