This paper addresses the problem of learning reserve prices that approximately maximize revenue, using sample draws from an unknown distribution over bidder valuations. The authors introduce t-level auctions, in which (roughly speaking) each bidder's bid space is effectively discretized into levels, and the bidder whose bid falls on the highest level wins and pays the lowest value that falls on its lowest level required to win.
The authors bound the number of samples needed to find an approximately revenue-maximizing auction from all auctions in a set C (e.g., from the set of 10-level auctions). They bound the difference in revenue between the revenue-maximizing t-level auction and the optimal auction. Results are presented for single-item auctions but are generalized to matroid settings and single-parameter settings.