Compact representations of search in complex domains

Yosi Ben-Asher, Eitan Farchi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We introduce a new zero-sum matrix game for modeling search in structured domains. In this game, one player tries to find a "bug" while the other tries to hide it. Both players exploit the structure of the "search" domain. Intuitively, this search game is a mathematical generalization of the well known binary search. The generalization is from searching over totally ordered sets to searching over more complex search domains such as trees, partial orders and general set systems. As there must be one row for every search strategy, and there are exponentially many ways to search even in very simple search domains, the game's matrix has exponential size ("space"). In this work we present two ways to reduce the space required to compute the Nash value (in pure strategies) of this game: • First we show that a Nash equilibrium in pure strategies can be computed by using a backward induction on the matrices of each "part" or sub structure of the search domain. This can significantly reduce the space required to represent the game. • Next, we show when general search domains can be represented as DAGs (Directed Acycliqe Graphs). As a result, the Nash equilibrium can be directly computed using the DAG. Consequently the space needed to compute the desired search strategy is reduced to O(n2) where n is the size of the search domain.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)171-188
Number of pages18
JournalInternational Game Theory Review
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2005


  • Matrix decomposition
  • Nash equilibrium
  • Search game

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Computer Science
  • Business and International Management
  • Statistics, Probability and Uncertainty


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