The phenomenon of residential segregation was captured by Schelling's famous segregation model where two types of agents are placed on a grid and an agent is content with her location if the fraction of her neighbors which have the same type as her is at least \(\tau\), for some \(0<\tau<1\). Discontent agents simply swap their location with a randomly chosen other discontent agent or jump to a random empty cell. We analyze a generalized game-theoretic model of Schelling segregation which allows more than two agent types and more general underlying graphs modeling the residential area. For this we show that both aspects heavily influence the dynamic properties and the tractability of finding an optimal placement. We map the boundary of when improving response dynamics (IRD), i.e., the natural approach for finding equilibrium states, are guaranteed to converge. For this we prove several sharp threshold results where guaranteed IRD convergence suddenly turns into the strongest possible non-convergence result: a violation of weak acyclicity. In particular, we show such threshold results also for Schelling's original model, which is in contrast to the standard assumption in many empirical papers. Furthermore, we show that in case of convergence, IRD find an equilibrium in \(O(m)\) steps, where \(m\) is the number of edges in the underlying graph and show that this bound is met in empirical simulations starting from random initial agent placements.
Lenzner, PascalGreedy Selfish Network Creation. Web and Internet Economics (WINE) 2012: 142-155
We introduce and analyze greedy equilibria (GE) for the well-known model of selfish network creation by Fabrikant et al.[PODC'03]. GE are interesting for two reasons: (1) they model outcomes found by agents which prefer smooth adaptations over radical strategy-changes, (2) GE are outcomes found by agents which do not have enough computational resources to play optimally. In the model of Fabrikant et al. agents correspond to Internet Service Providers which buy network links to improve their quality of network usage. It is known that computing a best response in this model is NP-hard. Hence, poly-time agents are likely not to play optimally. But how good are networks created by such agents? We answer this question for very simple agents. Quite surprisingly, naive greedy play suffices to create remarkably stable networks. Specifically, we show that in the SUM version, where agents attempt to minimize their average distance to all other agents, GE capture Nash equilibria (NE) on trees and that any GE is in 3-approximate NE on general networks. For the latter we also provide a lower bound of 3/2 on the approximation ratio. For the MAX version, where agents attempt to minimize their maximum distance, we show that any GE-star is in 2-approximate NE and any GE-tree having larger diameter is in 6/5-approximate NE. Both bounds are tight. We contrast these positive results by providing a linear lower bound on the approximation ratio for the MAX version on general networks in GE. This result implies a locality gap of \(\Omega(n)\) for the metric min-max facility location problem, where \(n\) is the number of clients.
Albers, Susanne; Lenzner, PascalOn Approximate Nash Equilibria in Network Design. Web and Internet Economics (WINE) 2010: 14-25
We study a basic network design game where \($n$\) self-interested agents, each having individual connectivity requirements, wish to build a network by purchasing links from a given set of edges. A fundamental cost sharing mechanism is Shapley cost sharing that splits the cost of an edge in a fair manner among the agents using the edge. In this paper we investigate if an optimal minimum-cost network represents an attractive, relatively stable state that agents might want to purchase. We resort to the concept of \($\alpha$\)-approximate Nash equilibria. We prove that for single source games in undirected graphs, any optimal network represents an \($H(n)$\)-approximate Nash equilibrium, where \($H(n)$\) is the \($n$\)-th Harmonic number. We show that this bound is tight. We extend the results to cooperative games, where agents may form coalitions, and to weighted games. In both cases we give tight or nearly tight lower and upper bounds on the stability of optimal solutions. Finally we show that in general source-sink games and in directed graphs, minimum-cost networks do not represent good states.
Our research focus is on theoretical computer science and algorithm engineering. We are equally interested in the mathematical foundations of algorithms and developing efficient algorithms in practice. A special focus is on random structures and methods.