You are an apprentice to Carver, the most successful butcher in your tiny, snow-swept village. Today, for the first time since you joined her, she is sending you to buy carcasses at the daily Auction.
(The (first-price, sealed-bid) Monster Carcass Auction began as a collective effort by local shopkeepers to divert Adventurers from trying to sell them random corpses, but has since become an integral part of the village economy, as well as the population’s main protein source.)
Carver thinks you should trust your instincts and bid however feels right. It’s an approach that’s served her well thus far – the record you’ve been compiling of her bids and subsequent sales attests to that, among other things – but you suspect a more data-driven approach would work better. And if you do well enough on this expedition, that might suffice to prove it to her.
You make sure to arrive at the very end of the event, like your boss always does; this means you’ll lose any tie-breakers – matching bids are resolved in favour of whoever bid first – but also means your rivals will have already put in their bids, so none of them will be able to change their bidding strategy to account for Carver’s absence.
The lots available are as follows:
|Lot||Species||Days Since Death|
(As usual, this is all the information given to bidders; the original organizers took the term ‘blind auction’ a little too literally, and by the time anyone realized, the practice of hiding almost everything about the lots had become a tradition.)
You and your employer are risk-neutral, and don’t care how much or little time and effort you spend butchering. You brought 400 silver pieces. How much will you bid for each lot?
- Payments are collected in lot order; if you’re unable to pay your bid by the time a given lot comes up, you lose your claim to that lot but incur no penalty.
- Your records are in no particular order, but the glacial pace of life in your village suggests there are no time trends to account for.
I’ll be posting an interactive letting you test your decision, along with an explanation of how I generated the dataset, sometime next Friday. I’m giving you a week, but the task shouldn’t take more than a few hours; use Excel, R, Python, Ouija boards, or whatever other tools you think are appropriate. Let me know in the comments if you have any questions about the scenario.
If you want to investigate collaboratively and/or call your decisions in advance, feel free to do so in the comments; however, please use spoiler tags or rot13 when sharing inferences/strategies/decisions, so people intending to fly solo can look for clarifications without being spoiled.