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122
How bad is selfish routing?
 JOURNAL OF THE ACM
, 2002
"... We consider the problem of routing traffic to optimize the performance of a congested network. We are given a network, a rate of traffic between each pair of nodes, and a latency function for each edge specifying the time needed to traverse the edge given its congestion; the objective is to route t ..."
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Cited by 657 (27 self)
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We consider the problem of routing traffic to optimize the performance of a congested network. We are given a network, a rate of traffic between each pair of nodes, and a latency function for each edge specifying the time needed to traverse the edge given its congestion; the objective is to route traffic such that the sum of all travel times—the total latency—is minimized. In many settings, it may be expensive or impossible to regulate network traffic so as to implement an optimal assignment of routes. In the absence of regulation by some central authority, we assume that each network user routes its traffic on the minimumlatency path available to it, given the network congestion caused by the other users. In general such a “selfishly motivated ” assignment of traffic to paths will not minimize the total latency; hence, this lack of regulation carries the cost of decreased network performance. In this article, we quantify the degradation in network performance due to unregulated traffic. We prove that if the latency of each edge is a linear function of its congestion, then the total latency of the routes chosen by selfish network users is at most 4/3 times the minimum possible total latency (subject to the condition that all traffic must be routed). We also consider the more general setting in which edge latency functions are assumed only to be continuous and nondecreasing in the edge congestion. Here, the total
The price of stability for network design with fair cost allocation
 In Proceedings of the 45th Annual Symposium on Foundations of Computer Science (FOCS
, 2004
"... Abstract. Network design is a fundamental problem for which it is important to understand the effects of strategic behavior. Given a collection of selfinterested agents who want to form a network connecting certain endpoints, the set of stable solutions — the Nash equilibria — may look quite differ ..."
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Cited by 281 (30 self)
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Abstract. Network design is a fundamental problem for which it is important to understand the effects of strategic behavior. Given a collection of selfinterested agents who want to form a network connecting certain endpoints, the set of stable solutions — the Nash equilibria — may look quite different from the centrally enforced optimum. We study the quality of the best Nash equilibrium, and refer to the ratio of its cost to the optimum network cost as the price of stability. The best Nash equilibrium solution has a natural meaning of stability in this context — it is the optimal solution that can be proposed from which no user will defect. We consider the price of stability for network design with respect to one of the most widelystudied protocols for network cost allocation, in which the cost of each edge is divided equally between users whose connections make use of it; this fairdivision scheme can be derived from the Shapley value, and has a number of basic economic motivations. We show that the price of stability for network design with respect to this fair cost allocation is O(log k), where k is the number of users, and that a good Nash equilibrium can be achieved via bestresponse dynamics in which users iteratively defect from a starting solution. This establishes that the fair cost allocation protocol is in fact a useful mechanism for inducing strategic behavior to form nearoptimal equilibria. We discuss connections to the class of potential games defined by Monderer and Shapley, and extend our results to cases in which users are seeking to balance network design costs with latencies in the constructed network, with stronger results when the network has only delays and no construction costs. We also present bounds on the convergence time of bestresponse dynamics, and discuss extensions to a weighted game.
The price of anarchy is independent of the network topology
 JOURNAL OF COMPUTER AND SYSTEM SCIENCES
, 2002
"... We study the degradation in network performance caused by the selfish behavior of noncooperative network users. We consider a model of selfish routing in which the latency experienced by network traffic on an edge of the network is a function of the edge congestion, and network users are assumed to ..."
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Cited by 217 (17 self)
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We study the degradation in network performance caused by the selfish behavior of noncooperative network users. We consider a model of selfish routing in which the latency experienced by network traffic on an edge of the network is a function of the edge congestion, and network users are assumed to selfishly route traffic on minimumlatency paths. The quality of a routing of traffic is measured by the sum of travel times, also called the total latency. The outcome of selfish routing—a Nash equilibrium—does not in general minimize the total latency; hence, selfish behavior carries the cost of decreased network performance. We quantify this degradation in network performance via the price of anarchy, the worstpossible ratio between the total latency of a Nash equilibrium and of an optimal routing of the traffic. We show the price of anarchy is determined only by the simplest of networks. Specifically, we prove that under weak hypotheses on the class of allowable edge latency functions, the worstcase ratio between the total latency of a Nash equilibrium and of a minimumlatency routing for any multicommodity flow network is achieved by a singlecommodity
The Complexity of Pure Nash Equilibria
, 2004
"... We investigate from the computational viewpoint multiplayer games that are guaranteed to have pure Nash equilibria. We focus on congestion games, and show that a pure Nash equilibrium can be computed in polynomial time in the symmetric network case, while the problem is PLScomplete in general. ..."
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Cited by 169 (6 self)
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We investigate from the computational viewpoint multiplayer games that are guaranteed to have pure Nash equilibria. We focus on congestion games, and show that a pure Nash equilibrium can be computed in polynomial time in the symmetric network case, while the problem is PLScomplete in general. We discuss implications to nonatomic congestion games, and we explore the scope of the potential function method for proving existence of pure Nash equilibria.
Nearoptimal network design with selfish agents
, 2003
"... We introduce a simple network design game that models how independent selfish agents can build or maintain a large network. In our game every agent has a specific connectivity requirement, i.e. each agent has a set of terminals and wants to build a network in which his terminals are connected. Possi ..."
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Cited by 151 (19 self)
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We introduce a simple network design game that models how independent selfish agents can build or maintain a large network. In our game every agent has a specific connectivity requirement, i.e. each agent has a set of terminals and wants to build a network in which his terminals are connected. Possible edges in the network have costs and each agent’s goal is to pay as little as possible. Determining whether or not a Nash equilibrium exists in this game is NPcomplete. However, when the goal of each player is to connect a terminal to a common source, we prove that there is a Nash equilibrium as cheap as the optimal network, and give a polynomial time algorithmtofinda(1+ε)approximate Nash equilibrium that does not cost much more. For the general connection game we prove that there is a 3approximate Nash equilibrium that is as cheap as the optimal network, and give an algorithm to find a (4.65 +ε)approximate Nash equilibrium that does not cost much more.
Playing large games using simple strategies
 IN: PROC. OF THE 4TH ACM CONF. ON EL. COMMERCE (EC ’03). ASSOC. OF COMP. MACH
, 2003
"... We prove the existence of Nash equilibrium strategies with support logarithmic in the number of pure strategies. We also show that the payoffs to all players in any (exact) Nash equilibrium can be approximated by the payoffs to the players in some such logarithmic support Nash equilibrium. These ..."
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Cited by 122 (4 self)
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We prove the existence of Nash equilibrium strategies with support logarithmic in the number of pure strategies. We also show that the payoffs to all players in any (exact) Nash equilibrium can be approximated by the payoffs to the players in some such logarithmic support Nash equilibrium. These strategies are also uniform on a multiset of logarithmic size and therefore this leads to a quasipolynomial algorithm for computing an Nash equilibrium. To our knowledge this is the rst subexponential algorithm for finding an Nash equilibrium. Our results hold for any multipleplayer game as long as the number of players is a constant (i.e., it is independent of the number of pure strategies). A similar argument also proves that for a xed number of players m, the payos to all players in any mtuple of mixed strategies can be approximated by the payos in some mtuple of constant support strategies. We also prove that if the payoff matrices of a two person game have low rank then the game has an exact Nash equilibrium with small support. This implies that if the payoff matrices can be well approximated by low rank matrices, the game has an equilibrium with small support. It also implies that if the payo matrices have constant rank we can compute an exact Nash equilibrium in polynomial time.
Intrinsic Robustness of the Price of Anarchy
 STOC'09
, 2009
"... The price of anarchy (POA) is a worstcase measure of the inefficiency of selfish behavior, defined as the ratio of the objective function value of a worst Nash equilibrium of a game and that of an optimal outcome. This measure implicitly assumes that players successfully reach some Nash equilibrium ..."
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Cited by 101 (12 self)
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The price of anarchy (POA) is a worstcase measure of the inefficiency of selfish behavior, defined as the ratio of the objective function value of a worst Nash equilibrium of a game and that of an optimal outcome. This measure implicitly assumes that players successfully reach some Nash equilibrium. This drawback motivates the search for inefficiency bounds that apply more generally to weaker notions of equilibria, such as mixed Nash and correlated equilibria; or to sequences of outcomes generated by natural experimentation strategies, such as successive best responses or simultaneous regretminimization. We prove a general and fundamental connection between the price of anarchy and its seemingly stronger relatives in classes of games with a sum objective. First, we identify a “canonical sufficient condition ” for an upper bound of the POA for pure Nash equilibria, which we call a smoothness argument. Second, we show that every bound derived via a smoothness argument extends automatically, with no quantitative degradation in the bound, to mixed Nash equilibria, correlated equilibria, and the average objective function value of regretminimizing players (or “price of total anarchy”). Smoothness arguments also have automatic implications for the inefficiency of approximate and BayesianNash equilibria and, under mild additional assumptions, for bicriteria bounds and for polynomiallength bestresponse sequences. We also identify classes of games — most notably, congestion games with cost functions restricted to an arbitrary fixed set — that are tight, in the sense that smoothness arguments are guaranteed to produce an optimal worstcase upper bound on the POA, even for the smallest set of interest (pure Nash equilibria). Byproducts of our proof of this result include the first tight bounds on the POA in congestion games with nonpolynomial cost functions, and the first
Sink equilibria and convergence
 IN FOCS
, 2005
"... We introduce the concept of a sink equilibrium. A sink equilibrium is a strongly connected component with no outgoing arcs in the strategy profile graph associated with a game. The strategy profile graph has a vertex set induced by the set of pure strategy profiles; its arc set corresponds to transi ..."
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Cited by 83 (12 self)
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We introduce the concept of a sink equilibrium. A sink equilibrium is a strongly connected component with no outgoing arcs in the strategy profile graph associated with a game. The strategy profile graph has a vertex set induced by the set of pure strategy profiles; its arc set corresponds to transitions between strategy profiles that occur with nonzero probability. (Here our focus will just be on the special case in which the strategy profile graph is actually a best response graph; that is, its arc set corresponds exactly to best response moves that result from myopic or greedy behaviour.) We argue that there is a natural convergence process to sink equilibria in games where agents use pure strategies. This leads to an alternative measure of the social cost of a lack of coordination, the price of sinking, which
On spectrum sharing games,
 In Proc. 22nd Symp. Principles of Distributed Computing (PODC)
, 2004
"... Abstract Efficient spectrumsharing mechanisms are crucial to alleviate the bandwidth limitation in wireless networks. In this paper, we consider the following question: can free spectrum be shared efficiently? We study this problem in the context of 802.11 or WiFi networks. Each access point (AP) ..."
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Cited by 79 (3 self)
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Abstract Efficient spectrumsharing mechanisms are crucial to alleviate the bandwidth limitation in wireless networks. In this paper, we consider the following question: can free spectrum be shared efficiently? We study this problem in the context of 802.11 or WiFi networks. Each access point (AP) in a WiFi network must be assigned a channel for it to service users. There are only finitely many possible channels that can be assigned. Moreover, neighboring access points must use different channels so as to avoid interference. Currently these channels are assigned by administrators who carefully consider channel conflicts and network loads. Channel conflicts among APs operated by different entities are currently resolved in an ad hoc manner (i.e., not in a coordinated way) or not resolved at all. We view the channel assignment problem as a game, where the players are the service providers and APs are acquired sequentially. We consider the price of anarchy of this game, which is the ratio between the total coverage of the APs in the worst Nash equilibrium of the game and what the total coverage of the APs would be if the channel assignment were done optimally by a central authority. We provide bounds on the price of anarchy depending on assumptions on the underlying network and the type of bargaining allowed between service providers. The key tool in the analysis is the identification of the Nash equilibria with the solutions * A preliminary version of this paper appeared in ACM Symposium on Principles of to a maximal coloring problem in an appropriate graph. We relate the price of anarchy of these games to the approximation factor of local optimization algorithms for the maximum kcolorable subgraph problem. We also study the speed of convergence in these games.