Course Instructor

Balaji Prabhakar

  • Office: Packard 269
  • Office hours: Tuesday, 9:30 – 11:00 AM
  • email:

Class Time and Location

  • Monday and Wednesday, 2.15 PM – 3.30 PM in Building 50-52H

What is this course about?

Why does glue not stick to the inside of the bottle?
Why is lemonade made with artificial flavor but dishwashing liquid made with real lemons?
How can I spend money and save a lot more money?

While the first two are some of life's enduring questions, the third is the topic of the course EE 24N: Incentive mechanisms for Societal Networks. Find out how to design incentive mechanisms to reduce road congestion, pollution and energy consumption. Learn the theory of intelligently "throwing money at problems" and use it to reduce congestion at Stanford and to improve recycling.

Some things you will learn:

  • The cost of congestion in 2007 in wasted fuel and time is $87.2 billion! Find out how you can come up with clever financial incentives to considerably reduce this number.
  • Farmers in India irrigate their lands in a way that seriously harms the energy grid. Design technological and economic mechanisms to change their behavior.
  • How can people be incentivized to use the public transportation and vastly reduce fuel consumption and emissions.
  • How Singapore, London and Stockholm run their road congestion charging mechanisms, and how this has affected commuter behavior.

Run experiments:

  • To increase recycling on campus by using cleverly structured incentives.
  • To help reduce congestion at Stanford.


  • About the St Petersburg Paradox and its relation to the modern economic theory of Expected Utility Maximization
  • About GPS and RFID technologies and their use for paying tolls.


The course is open to ALL Stanford undergraduate students. Basic knowledge in Calculus will be helpful.