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Selfish Routing and the Price of Anarchy
 MATHEMATICAL PROGRAMMING SOCIETY NEWSLETTER
, 2007
"... Selfish routing is a classical mathematical model of how selfinterested users might route traffic through a congested network. The outcome of selfish routing is generally inefficient, in that it fails to optimize natural objective functions. The price of anarchy is a quantitative measure of this in ..."
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Cited by 252 (11 self)
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Selfish routing is a classical mathematical model of how selfinterested users might route traffic through a congested network. The outcome of selfish routing is generally inefficient, in that it fails to optimize natural objective functions. The price of anarchy is a quantitative measure of this inefficiency. We survey recent work that analyzes the price of anarchy of selfish routing. We also describe related results on bounding the worstpossible severity of a phenomenon called Braess’s Paradox, and on three techniques for reducing the price of anarchy of selfish routing. This survey concentrates on the contributions of the author’s PhD thesis, but also discusses several more recent results in the area.
Intrinsic Robustness of the Price of Anarchy
"... 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 99 (11 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
Convergence to Approximate Nash Equilibria in Congestion Games
 In SODA ’07
, 2007
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Tight approximation algorithms for maximum general assignment problems
 Proc. of ACMSIAM SODA
, 2006
"... A separable assignment problem (SAP) is defined by a set of bins and a set of items to pack in each bin; a value, fij, for assigning item j to bin i; and a separate packing constraint for each bin – i.e. for bin i, a family Ii of subsets of items that fit in bin i. The goal is to pack items into bin ..."
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Cited by 63 (7 self)
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A separable assignment problem (SAP) is defined by a set of bins and a set of items to pack in each bin; a value, fij, for assigning item j to bin i; and a separate packing constraint for each bin – i.e. for bin i, a family Ii of subsets of items that fit in bin i. The goal is to pack items into bins to maximize the aggregate value. This class of problems includes the maximum generalized assignment problem (GAP) 1) and a distributed caching problem (DCP) described in this paper. Given a βapproximation algorithm for finding the highest value packing of a single bin, we give 1. A polynomialtime LProunding based ((1 − 1 e)β)approximation algorithm. 2. A simple polynomialtime local search ( β approximation algorithm, for any ɛ> 0. β+1 − ɛ)Therefore, for all examples of SAP that admit an approximation scheme for the singlebin problem, we obtain an LPbased algorithm with (1 − 1 e − ɛ)approximation and a local search algorithm with ( 1 2 −ɛ)approximation guarantee. Furthermore, for cases in which the subproblem admits a fully polynomial approximation scheme (such as for GAP), the LPbased algorithm analysis can be strengthened to give a guarantee of 1 − 1 e. The best previously known approximation algorithm for GAP is a 1 2approximation by Shmoys and Tardos; and Chekuri and Khanna. Our LP algorithm is based on rounding a new linear programming relaxation, with a provably better integrality gap. To complement these results, we show that SAP and DCP cannot be approximated within a factor better than 1 − 1 e unless NP ⊆ DTIME(n O(log log n)), even if there exists a polynomialtime exact algorithm for the singlebin problem.
Regret minimization and the price of total anarchy
, 2008
"... We propose weakening the assumption made when studying the price of anarchy: Rather than assume that selfinterested players will play according to a Nash equilibrium (which may even be computationally hard to find), we assume only that selfish players play so as to minimize their own regret. Regret ..."
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Cited by 59 (10 self)
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We propose weakening the assumption made when studying the price of anarchy: Rather than assume that selfinterested players will play according to a Nash equilibrium (which may even be computationally hard to find), we assume only that selfish players play so as to minimize their own regret. Regret minimization can be done via simple, efficient algorithms even in many settings where the number of action choices for each player is exponential in the natural parameters of the problem. We prove that despite our weakened assumptions, in several broad classes of games, this “price of total anarchy” matches the Nash price of anarchy, even though play may never converge to Nash equilibrium. In contrast to the price of anarchy and the recently introduced price of sinking [15], which require all players to behave in a prescribed manner, we show that the price of total anarchy is in many cases resilient to the presence of Byzantine players, about whom we make no assumptions. Finally, because the price of total anarchy is an upper bound on the price of anarchy even in mixed strategies, for some games our results yield as corollaries previously unknown bounds on the price of anarchy in mixed strategies.
Network Design with Weighted Players
 In Proceedings of the 18th Annual ACM Symposium on Parallel Algorithms and Architectures (SPAA
, 2006
"... We consider a model of gametheoretic network design initially studied by Anshelevich et al. [2], where selfish players select paths in a network to minimize their cost, which is prescribed by Shapley cost shares. If all players are identical, the cost share incurred by a player for an edge in its p ..."
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Cited by 49 (6 self)
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We consider a model of gametheoretic network design initially studied by Anshelevich et al. [2], where selfish players select paths in a network to minimize their cost, which is prescribed by Shapley cost shares. If all players are identical, the cost share incurred by a player for an edge in its path is the fixed cost of the edge divided by the number of players using it. In this special case, Anshelevich et al. [2] proved that purestrategy Nash equilibria always exist and that the price of stability—the ratio in costs of a minimumcost Nash equilibrium and an optimal solution—is Θ(log k), where k is the number of players. Little was known about the existence of equilibria or the price of stability in the general weighted version of the game. Here, each player i has aweightwi≥1, and its cost share of an edge in its path
Convergence and Approximation in Potential Games
, 2006
"... We study the speed of convergence to approximately optimal states in two classes of potential games. We provide bounds in terms of the number of rounds, where a round consists of a sequence of movements, with each player appearing at least once in each round. We model the sequential interaction betw ..."
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Cited by 38 (3 self)
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We study the speed of convergence to approximately optimal states in two classes of potential games. We provide bounds in terms of the number of rounds, where a round consists of a sequence of movements, with each player appearing at least once in each round. We model the sequential interaction between players by a bestresponse walk in the state graph, where every transition in the walk corresponds to a best response of a player. Our goal is to bound the social value of the states at the end of such walks. In this paper, we focus on two classes of potential games: selfish routing games, and cut games (or party affiliation games [7]).
Designing networks with good equilibria
 In SODA ’08
, 2007
"... In a network with selfish users, designing and deploying a protocol determines the rules of the game by which end users interact with each other and with the network. We study the problem of designing a protocol to optimize the equilibrium behavior of the induced network game. We consider network co ..."
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Cited by 36 (4 self)
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In a network with selfish users, designing and deploying a protocol determines the rules of the game by which end users interact with each other and with the network. We study the problem of designing a protocol to optimize the equilibrium behavior of the induced network game. We consider network costsharing games, where the set of Nash equilibria depends fundamentally on the choice of an edge costsharing protocol. Previous research focused on the Shapley protocol, in which the cost of each edge is shared equally among its users. We systematically study the design of optimal costsharing protocols for undirected and directed graphs, singlesink and multicommodity networks, different classes of costsharing methods, and different measures of the inefficiency of equilibria. One of our main technical tools is a complete characterization of the uniform costsharing protocols—protocols that are designed without foreknowledge of or assumptions on the network in which they will be deployed. We use this characterization result to identify the optimal uniform protocol in several scenarios: for example, the Shapley protocol is optimal in directed graphs, while the optimal protocol in undirected graphs, a simple priority scheme, has exponentially smaller worstcase price of anarchy than the Shapley protocol. We also provide several matching upper and lower bounds on the bestpossible performance of nonuniform costsharing protocols.
(Almost) optimal coordination mechanisms for unrelated maching scheduling
 IN 18TH ACMSIAM SYMP. ON DISCRETE ALGORITHMS (SODA
, 2008
"... We investigate the influence of different algorithmic choices on the approximation ratio in selfish scheduling. Our goal is to design local policies that minimize the inefficiency of resulting equilibria. In particular, we design optimal coordination mechanisms for unrelated machine scheduling, and ..."
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Cited by 35 (6 self)
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We investigate the influence of different algorithmic choices on the approximation ratio in selfish scheduling. Our goal is to design local policies that minimize the inefficiency of resulting equilibria. In particular, we design optimal coordination mechanisms for unrelated machine scheduling, and improve the known approximation ratio from Θ(m) to Θ(log m), where m is the number of machines. A local policy for each machine orders the set of jobs assigned to it only based on parameters of those jobs. A strongly local policy only uses the processing time of jobs on the the same machine. We prove that the approximation ratio of any set of strongly local ordering policies in equilibria is at least Ω(m). In particular, it implies that the approximation ratio of a greedy shortestfirst algorithm for machine scheduling is at least Ω(m). This closes the gap between the known lower and upper bounds for this problem, and answers an open question raised by Ibarra and Kim [16], and Davis and Jaffe [10]. We then design a local ordering policy with the approximation ratio of Θ(log m) in equilibria, and prove that this policy is optimal among all local ordering policies. This policy orders the jobs in the nondecreasing order of their inefficiency, i.e, the ratio between the processing time on that machine over the minimum processing time. Finally, we show that best responses of players for the inefficiencybased policy may not converge to a pure Nash equilibrium, and present a Θ(log² m) policy for which we can prove fast convergence of best responses to pure Nash equilibria.