Total: 89

Many efficient algorithms have been designed to recover Nash equilibria of various classes of finite games. Special classes of continuous games with infinite strategy spaces, such as polynomial games, can be solved by semidefinite programming. In general, however, continuous games are not directly amenable to computational procedures. In this contribution, we develop an iterative strategy generation technique for finding a Nash equilibrium in a whole class of continuous two-person zero-sum games with compact strategy sets. The procedure, which is called the double oracle algorithm, has been successfully applied to large finite games in the past. We prove the convergence of the double oracle algorithm to a Nash equilibrium. Moreover, the algorithm is guaranteed to recover an approximate equilibrium in finitely-many steps. Our numerical experiments show that it outperforms fictitious play on several examples of games appearing in the literature. In particular, we provide a detailed analysis of experiments with a version of the continuous Colonel Blotto game.

We consider the one-sided matching problem, where n agents have preferences over n items, and these preferences are induced by underlying cardinal valuation functions. The goal is to match every agent to a single item so as to maximize the social welfare. Most of the related literature, however, assumes that the values of the agents are not a priori known, and only access to the ordinal preferences of the agents over the items is provided. Consequently, this incomplete information leads to loss of efficiency, which is measured by the notion of distortion. In this paper, we further assume that the agents can answer a small number of queries, allowing us partial access to their values. We study the interplay between elicited cardinal information (measured by the number of queries per agent) and distortion for one-sided matching, as well as a wide range of well-studied related problems. Qualitatively, our results show that with a limited number of queries, it is possible to obtain significant improvements over the classic setting, where only access to ordinal information is given.

We study a model of proxy voting where the candidates, voters, and proxies are all located on the real line, and instead of voting directly, each voter delegates its vote to the closest proxy. The goal is to find a set of proxies that is theta-representative, which entails that for any voter located anywhere on the line, its favorite candidate is within a distance theta of the favorite candidate of its closest proxy. This property guarantees a strong form of representation as the set of voters is not required to be fixed in advance, or even be finite. We show that for candidates located on a line, an optimal proxy arrangement can be computed in polynomial time. Moreover, we provide upper and lower bounds on the number of proxies required to form a theta-representative set, thus showing that a relatively small number of proxies is enough to capture the preferences of any set of voters. An additional beneficial property of a theta-representative proxy arrangement is that for strict-Condorcet voting rules, the outcome of proxy voting is similarly close to the outcome of direct voting.

We study a coordination game motivated by the formation of Internet Exchange Points (IXPs), in which agents choose which facilities to join. Joining the same facility as other agents you communicate with has benefits, but different facilities have different costs for each agent. Thus, the players wish to join the same facilities as their "friends", but this is balanced by them not wanting to pay the cost of joining a facility. We first show that the Price of Stability (PoS) of this game is at most 2, and more generally there always exists an alpha-approximate equilibrium with cost at most 2/alpha of optimum. We then focus on how better stable solutions can be formed. If we allow agents to pay their neighbors to prevent them from deviating (i.e., a player i voluntarily pays another player j so that j joins the same facility), then we provide a payment scheme which stabilizes the solution with minimum social cost s*, i.e. PoS is 1. In our main technical result, we consider how much a central coordinator would have to pay the players in order to form good stable solutions. Let Delta denote the total amount of payments needed to be paid to the players in order to stabilize s*, i.e., these are payments that a player would lose if they changed their strategy from the one in s*. We prove that there is a tradeoff between Delta and the Price of Stability: Delta/cost(s*) < 1 - 2 PoS/5. Thus when there are no good stable solutions, only a small amount of extra payment is needed to stabilize s*; and when good stable solutions already exist (i.e., PoS is small), then we should be happy with those solutions instead. Finally, we consider the computational complexity of finding the optimum solution s*, and design a polynomial time O(log n) approximation algorithm for this problem.

When allocating indivisible resources or tasks, an envy-free allocation or equitable allocation may not exist. We present a sufficient condition and an algorithm to achieve envy-freeness and equitability when monetary transfers are allowed. The approach works for any agent valuation functions (positive or negative) as long as they satisfy superadditivity. For the case of additive utilities, we present a characterization of allocations that can simultaneously be made equitable and envy-free via payments. Our study shows that superadditive valuations constitute the largest class of valuations for which an envy-free and equitable outcome exists for all instances. We then present a distributed algorithm to compute an approximately envy-free outcome for any class of valuations.

Participatory budgeting (PB) is a democratic paradigm whereby voters decide on a set of projects to fund with a limited budget. We consider PB in a setting where voters report ordinal preferences over projects and have (possibly) asymmetric weights. We propose proportional representation axioms and clarify how they fit into other preference aggregation settings, such as multi-winner voting and approval-based multi-winner voting. As a result of our study, we also discover a new solution concept for approval-based multi-winner voting, which we call Inclusion PSC (IPSC). IPSC is stronger than proportional justified representation (PJR), incomparable to extended justified representation (EJR), and yet compatible with EJR. The well-studied Proportional Approval Voting (PAV) rule produces a committee that satisfies both EJR and IPSC; however, both these axioms can also be satisfied by an algorithm that runs in polynomial-time.

We consider the problem of allocating a set on indivisible items to players with private preferences in an efficient and fair way. We focus on valuations that have dichotomous marginals, in which the added value of any item to a set is either 0 or 1, and aim to design truthful allocation mechanisms (without money) that maximize welfare and are fair. For the case that players have submodular valuations with dichotomous marginals, we design such a deterministic truthful allocation mechanism. The allocation output by our mechanism is Lorenz dominating, and consequently satisfies many desired fairness properties, such as being envy-free up to any item (EFX), and maximizing the Nash Social Welfare (NSW). We then show that our mechanism with random priorities is envy-free ex-ante, while having all the above properties ex-post. Furthermore, we present several impossibility results precluding similar results for the larger class of XOS valuations.

Bayesian persuasion, as introduced by Kamenica and Gentzkow in 2011, is the study of information sharing policies among strategic agents. A prime example is signaling in online ad auctions: what information should a platform signal to an advertiser regarding a user when selling the opportunity to advertise to her? Practical considerations such as preventing discrimination, protecting privacy or acknowledging limited attention of the information receiver impose constraints on information sharing. We propose a simple way to mathematically model such constraints as restrictions on Receiver's admissible posterior beliefs. We consider two families of constraints - ex ante and ex post; the latter limits each instance of Sender-Receiver communication, while the former more general family can also pose restrictions in expectation. For the ex ante family, a result of Doval and Skreta (2018) establishes the existence of an optimal signaling scheme with a small number of signals - at most the number of constraints plus the number of states of nature - and we show this result is tight. For the ex post family, we tighten the previous bound of Vølund (2018), showing that the required number of signals is at most the number of states of nature, as in the original Kamenica-Gentzkow setting. As our main algorithmic result, we provide an additive bi-criteria FPTAS for an optimal constrained signaling scheme assuming a constant number of states of nature; we improve the approximation to single-criteria under a Slater-like regularity condition. The FPTAS holds under standard assumptions, and more relaxed assumptions yield a PTAS. We then establish a bound on the ratio between Sender's optimal utility under convex ex ante constraints and the corresponding ex post constraints. We demonstrate how this result can be applied to find an approximately welfare-maximizing constrained signaling scheme in ad auctions.

In classic network security games, the defender distributes defending resources to the nodes of the network, and the attacker attacks a node, with the objective to maximize the damage caused. Existing models assume that the attack at node u causes damage only at u. However, in many real-world security scenarios, the attack at a node u spreads to the neighbors of u and can cause damage at multiple nodes, e.g., for the outbreak of a virus. In this paper, we consider the network defending problem against contagious attacks. Existing works that study shared resources assume that the resource allocated to a node can be shared or duplicated between neighboring nodes. However, in real world, sharing resource naturally leads to a decrease in defending power of the source node, especially when defending against contagious attacks. To this end, we study the model in which resources allocated to a node can only be transferred to its neighboring nodes, which we refer to as a reallocation process. We show that this more general model is difficult in two aspects: (1) even for a fixed allocation of resources, we show that computing the optimal reallocation is NP-hard; (2) for the case when reallocation is not allowed, we show that computing the optimal allocation (against contagious attack) is also NP-hard. For positive results, we give a mixed integer linear program formulation for the problem and a bi-criteria approximation algorithm. Our experimental results demonstrate that the allocation and reallocation strategies our algorithm computes perform well in terms of minimizing the damage due to contagious attacks.

We study the problem of fairly allocating indivisible goods and focus on the classic fairness notion of proportionality. The indivisibility of the goods is long known to pose highly non-trivial obstacles to achieving fairness, and a very vibrant line of research has aimed to circumvent them using appropriate notions of approximate fairness. Recent work has established that even approximate versions of proportionality (PROPx) may be impossible to achieve even for small instances, while the best known achievable approximations (PROP1) are much weaker. We introduce the notion of proportionality up to the maximin item (PROPm) and show how to reach an allocation satisfying this notion for any instance involving up to five agents with additive valuations. PROPm provides a well-motivated middle-ground between PROP1 and PROPx, while also capturing some elements of the well-studied maximin share (MMS) benchmark: another relaxation of proportionality that has attracted a lot of attention.

We study the allocation of indivisible goods that form an undirected graph and quantify the loss of fairness when we impose a constraint that each agent must receive a connected subgraph. Our focus is on the well-studied fairness notion of maximin share fairness. We introduce the price of connectivity to capture the largest gap between the graph-specific and the unconstrained maximin share, and derive bounds on this quantity which are tight for large classes of graphs in the case of two agents and for paths and stars in the general case. For instance, with two agents we show that for biconnected graphs it is possible to obtain at least 3/4 of the maximin share with connected allocations, while for the remaining graphs the guarantee is at most 1/2. Our work demonstrates several applications of graph-theoretic tools and concepts to fair division problems.

We consider the classical cake-cutting problem where we wish to fairly divide a heterogeneous resource, often modeled as a cake, among interested agents. Work on the subject typically assumes that the cake is represented by an interval. In this paper, we introduce a generalized setting where the cake can be in the form of the set of edges of an undirected graph, allowing us to model the division of road networks. Unlike in the canonical setting, common fairness criteria such as proportionality cannot always be satisfied in our setting if each agent must receive a connected subgraph. We determine the optimal approximation of proportionality that can be obtained for any number of agents with arbitrary valuations, and exhibit a tight guarantee for each graph in the case of two agents. In addition, when more than one connected piece per agent is allowed, we establish the best egalitarian welfare guarantee for each total number of connected pieces. We also study a number of variants and extensions, including when approximate equitability is considered, or when the item to be divided is undesirable (also known as chore division).

We study fair resource allocation when the resources contain a mixture of divisible and indivisible goods, focusing on the well-studied fairness notion of maximin share fairness (MMS). With only indivisible goods, a full MMS allocation may not exist, but a constant multiplicative approximate allocation always does. We analyze how the MMS approximation guarantee would be affected when the resources to be allocated also contain divisible goods. In particular, we show that the worst-case MMS approximation guarantee with mixed goods is no worse than that with only indivisible goods. However, there exist problem instances to which adding some divisible resources would strictly decrease the MMS approximation ratios of the instances. On the algorithmic front, we propose a constructive algorithm that will always produce an \alpha-MMS allocation for any number of agents, where \alpha takes values between 1/2 and 1 and is a monotonically increasing function determined by how agents value the divisible goods relative to their MMS values.

The recent literature on fair Machine Learning manifests that the choice of fairness constraints must be driven by the utilities of the population. However, virtually all previous work makes the unrealistic assumption that the exact underlying utilities of the population (representing private tastes of individuals) are known to the regulator that imposes the fairness constraint. In this paper we initiate the discussion of the \emph{mismatch}, the unavoidable difference between the underlying utilities of the population and the utilities assumed by the regulator. We demonstrate that the mismatch can make the disadvantaged protected group worse off after imposing the fairness constraint and provide tools to design fairness constraints that help the disadvantaged group despite the mismatch.

Understanding real-world networks is a core research endeavor within the last two decades. Network Creation Games are a promising approach for this from a game-theoretic perspective. In these games, selfish agents corresponding to nodes in a network strategically decide which links to form to optimize their centrality. Many versions have been introduced and analyzed, but none of them fits to modeling the evolution of social networks. In real-world social networks connections are often established by recommendations from common acquaintances or by a chain of such recommendations. Thus establishing and maintaining a contact with a friend of a friend is easier than connecting to complete strangers. This explains the high clustering, i.e., the abundance of triangles, in real-world social networks. We propose and analyze a network creation model inspired by real-world social networks. In our model edges are formed via bilateral consent of both endpoints and the cost for establishing and maintaining an edge is proportional to the distance of the endpoints before establishing the connection. We provide results for generic cost functions which essentially only must be convex functions in the distance of the endpoints without the respective edge. For this broad class of cost functions we provide many structural properties of equilibrium networks and prove (almost) tight bounds on the diameter, the Price of Anarchy and the Price of Stability. Moreover, as a proof-of-concept we show via experiments that the created equilibrium networks of our model indeed closely mimic real-world social networks. We observe degree distributions that seem to follow a power-law, high clustering, and low diameters. This can be seen as a promising first step towards game-theoretic network creation models that predict networks featuring all core real-world properties.

In a collective decision-making process, having the possibility to provide non-expert agents with a justification for why a target outcome is a good compromise given their individual preferences, is an appealing idea. Such questions have recently been addressed in the computational social choice community at large---whether it was to explain the outcomes of a specific rule in voting theory or to seek transparency and accountability in multi-criteria decision making. Ultimately, the development of real-life applications based on these notions depends on their practical feasibility and on the scalability of the approach taken. In this paper, we provide computational complexity results that address the problem of finding and verifying justifications for collective decisions. In particular, we focus on the recent development of a general notion of justification for outcomes in voting theory. Such a justification consists of a step-by-step explanation, grounded in a normative basis, showing how the selection of the target outcome follows from the normative principles considered. We consider a language in which normative principles can be encoded---either as an explicit list of instances of the principles (by means of quantifier-free sentences), or in a succinct fashion (using quantifiers). We then analyse the computational complexity of identifying and checking justifications. For the case where the normative principles are given in the form of a list of instances, verifying the correctness of a justification is DP-complete and deciding on the existence of such a justification is complete for Sigma 2 P. For the case where the normative principles are given succinctly, deciding whether a justification is correct is in NEXP wedge coNEXP, and NEXP-hard, and deciding whether a justification exists is in EXP with access to an NP oracle and is NEXP-hard.

Condorcet extensions have long held a prominent place in social choice theory. A Condorcet extension will return the Condorcet winner as the unique winner whenever such an alternative exists. However, the definition of a Condorcet extension does not take into account possible manipulation by the voters. A profile where all agents vote truthfully may have a Condorcet winner, but this alternative may not end up in the set of winners if agents are acting strategically. Focusing on the class of tournament solutions, we show that many natural social choice functions in this class, such as the well-known Copeland and Slater rules, cannot guarantee the preservation of Condorcet winners when agents behave strategically. Our main result in this respect is an impossibility theorem that establishes that no tournament solution satisfying a very weak decisiveness requirement can provide such a guarantee. On the bright side, we identify several indecisive but otherwise attractive tournament solutions that do guarantee the preservation of Condorcet winners under strategic manipulation for a large class of preference extensions.

The formal study of coalition formation in multiagent systems is typically realized using so-called hedonic games, which originate from economic theory. The main focus of this branch of research has been on the existence and the computational complexity of deciding the existence of coalition structures that satisfy various stability criteria. The actual process of forming coalitions based on individual behavior has received little attention. In this paper, we study the convergence of simple dynamics leading to stable partitions in a variety of classes of hedonic games, including anonymous, dichotomous, fractional, and hedonic diversity games. The dynamics we consider is based on individual stability: an agent will join another coalition if she is better off and no member of the welcoming coalition is worse off. We identify conditions for convergence, provide elaborate counterexamples of existence of individually stable partitions, and study the computational complexity of problems related to the coalition formation dynamics. In particular, we settle open problems suggested by Bogomolnaia and Jackson (2002), Brandl, Brandt, and Strobel (2015), and Boehmer and Elkind (2020).

We introduce the use of reinforcement learning for indirect mechanisms, working with the existing class of sequential price mechanisms, which generalizes both serial dictatorship and posted price mechanisms and essentially characterizes all strongly obviously strategyproof mechanisms. Learning an optimal mechanism within this class forms a partially-observable Markov decision process. We provide rigorous conditions for when this class of mechanisms is more powerful than simpler static mechanisms, for sufficiency or insufficiency of observation statistics for learning, and for the necessity of complex (deep) policies. We show that our approach can learn optimal or near-optimal mechanisms in several experimental settings.

Tournament solutions are standard tools for identifying winners based on pairwise comparisons between competing alternatives. The recently studied notion of margin of victory (MoV) offers a general method for refining the winner set of any given tournament solution, thereby increasing the discriminative power of the solution. In this paper, we reveal a number of structural insights on the MoV by investigating fundamental properties such as monotonicity and consistency with respect to the covering relation. Furthermore, we provide experimental evidence on the extent to which the MoV notion refines winner sets in tournaments generated according to various stochastic models.

Schelling's model is an influential model that reveals how individual perceptions and incentives can lead to racial segregation. Inspired by a recent stream of work, we study welfare guarantees and complexity in this model with respect to several welfare measures. First, we show that while maximizing the social welfare is NP-hard, computing an assignment with approximately half of the maximum welfare can be done in polynomial time. We then consider Pareto optimality and introduce two new optimality notions, and establish mostly tight bounds on the worst-case welfare loss for assignments satisfying these notions. In addition, we show that for trees, it is possible to decide whether there exists an assignment that gives every agent a positive utility in polynomial time; moreover, when every node in the topology has degree at least 2, such an assignment always exists and can be found efficiently.

We focus on the scenario in which an agent can exploit his information advantage to manipulate the outcome of an election. In particular, we study district-based elections with two candidates, in which the winner of the election is the candidate that wins in the majority of the districts. District-based elections are adopted worldwide (e.g., UK and USA) and are a natural extension of widely studied voting mechanisms (e.g., k-voting and plurality voting). We resort to the Bayesian persuasion framework, where the manipulator (sender) strategically discloses information to the voters (receivers) that update their beliefs rationally. We study both private signaling in which the sender can use a private communication channel per receiver and public signaling in which the sender can use a single communication channel for all the receivers. Furthermore, for the first time, we introduce semi-public signaling in which the sender can use a single communication channel per district. We show that there is a sharp distinction between private and (semi-)public signaling. In particular, optimal private signaling schemes can provide an arbitrarily better probability of victory than (semi-)public ones and can be computed efficiently, while optimal (semi-)public signaling schemes cannot be approximated to within any factor in polynomial time unless P=NP. However, we show that reasonable relaxations allow the design of multi-criteria PTASs for optimal (semi-)public signaling schemes. In doing so, we introduce a novel property, namely comparative stability, and we design a bi-criteria PTAS for public signaling in general Bayesian persuasion problems beyond elections when the sender's utility function is state-dependent.

Network congestion games are a well-understood model of multi-agent strategic interactions. Despite their ubiquitous applications, it is not clear whether it is possible to design information structures to ameliorate the overall experience of the network users. We focus on Bayesian games with atomic players, where network vagaries are modeled via a (random) state of nature which determines the costs incurred by the players. A third-party entity—the sender—can observe the realized state of the network and exploit this additional information to send a signal to each player. A natural question is the following: is it possible for an informed sender to reduce the overall social cost via the strategic provision of information to players who update their beliefs rationally? The paper focuses on the problem of computing optimal ex ante persuasive signaling schemes, showing that symmetry is a crucial property for its solution. Indeed, we show that an optimal ex ante persuasive signaling scheme can be computed in polynomial time when players are symmetric and have affine cost functions. Moreover, the problem becomes NP-hard when players are asymmetric, even in non-Bayesian settings.

Deployments of game-theoretic solution concepts in the real world have highlighted the necessity to consider human opponents' boundedly rational behavior. If subrationality is not addressed, the system can face significant losses in terms of expected utility. While there exist algorithms for computing optimal strategies to commit to when facing subrational decision-makers in one-shot interactions, these algorithms cannot be generalized for solving sequential scenarios because of the inherent curse of strategy-space dimensionality in sequential games and because humans act subrationally in each decision point separately. We study optimal strategies to commit to against subrational opponents in sequential games for the first time and make the following key contributions: (1) we prove the problem is NP-hard in general; (2) to enable further analysis, we introduce a non-fractional reformulation of the direct non-concave representation of the equilibrium; (3) we identify conditions under which the problem can be approximated in polynomial time in the size of the representation; (4) we show how an MILP can approximate the reformulation with a guaranteed bounded error, and (5) we experimentally demonstrate that our algorithm provides higher quality results several orders of magnitude faster than a baseline method for general non-linear optimization.

We study the problem of allocating a set of indivisible goods among agents with subadditive valuations in a fair and efficient manner. Envy-Freeness up to any good (EFX) is the most compelling notion of fairness in the context of indivisible goods. Although the existence of EFX is not known beyond the simple case of two agents with subadditive valuations, some good approximations of EFX are known to exist, namely 1/2-EFX allocation and EFX allocations with bounded charity. Nash welfare (the geometric mean of agents' valuations) is one of the most commonly used measures of efficiency. In case of additive valuations, an allocation that maximizes Nash welfare also satisfies fairness properties like Envy-Free up to one good (EF1). Although there is substantial work on approximating Nash welfare when agents have additive valuations, very little is known when agents have subadditive valuations. In this paper, we design a polynomial-time algorithm that outputs an allocation that satisfies either of the two approximations of EFX as well as achieves an O(n) approximation to the Nash welfare. Our result also improves the current best-known approximation of O(n log n) and O(m) to Nash welfare when agents have submodular and subadditive valuations, respectively. Furthermore, our technique also gives an O(n) approximation to a family of welfare measures, p-mean of valuations for p in (-\infty, 1], thereby also matching asymptotically the current best approximation ratio for special cases like p = -\infty while also retaining the remarkable fairness properties.