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The Price of Selfish Behavior in Bilateral Network Formation

Jacomo Corbo
PhD student, Dept.EECS Harvard University

May 30, 2005 at  10:00 AM
Zames Seminar Room - MC437

Given a collection of selfish agents who wish to establish links to route traffic among themselves, the set of equilibrium network topologies may appear quite different from the centrally enforced optimum. We study the quality (price of anarchy) of equilibrium networks in a game where links require the consent of both participants and are negotiated bilaterally and compare these networks to those generated by an earlier model due to Fabrikant et al. ("On a Network Creation Game", PODC 2003) in which links are formed unilaterally. We provide a characterization of stable and efficient networks in the bilateral network formation game, show that the set of stable networks is richer than those in the unilateral game, and that all stable networks of the unilateral game are also stable in the bilateral game. We also provide an upper and lower bound on the price of anarchy (tight in the size of the network $n$ but not the link cost$\alpha$) of the bilateral game and show that the worst-case price of anarchy of the bilateral model is worse than for the unilateral model. A careful empirical analysis demonstrates that the average price of anarchy is better in the bilateral connection game than in the unilateral game for small link costs but worse as links become more expensive. In the process, a powerful equivalence between link-based graph stability and two game-theoretic equilibrium notions is also discussed. The equivalence establishes necessary and sufficient conditions for an equilibrium in the bilateral game that helps provide a partial geometric characterization of equilibrium graphs.

Based on joint work with David C. Parkes.

About the speaker:


Jacomo Corbo is currently a third-year PhD candidate in the EECS department at Harvard University. His research interests are in algorithmic game theory, control, and incentive mechanism design, particularly in network settings. He graduated from McGill University in Honours Electrical Engineering in 2002, where he completed his honours thesis under the mentorship of Prof. Peter Caines.