Multi-round cooperative search games with multiple players

Amos Korman, Yoav Rodeh

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review


Assume that a treasure is placed in one of M boxes according to a known distribution and that k searchers are searching for it in parallel during T rounds. We study the question of how to incentivize selfish players so that group performance would be maximized. Here, this is measured by the success probability, namely, the probability that at least one player finds the treasure. We focus on congestion policies C(`) that specify the reward that a player receives if it is one of ` players that (simultaneously) find the treasure for the first time. Our main technical contribution is proving that the exclusive policy, in which C(1) = 1 and C(`) = 0 for ` > 1, yields a price of anarchy of (1 − (1 − 1/k)k)1, and that this is the best possible price among all symmetric reward mechanisms. For this policy we also have an explicit description of a symmetric equilibrium, which is in some sense unique, and moreover enjoys the best success probability among all symmetric profiles. For general congestion policies, we show how to polynomially find, for any θ > 0, a symmetric multiplicative (1 + θ)(1 + C(k))-equilibrium. Together with an appropriate reward policy, a central entity can suggest players to play a particular profile at equilibrium. As our main conceptual contribution, we advocate the use of symmetric equilibria for such purposes. Besides being fair, we argue that symmetric equilibria can also become highly robust to crashes of players. Indeed, in many cases, despite the fact that some small fraction of players crash (or refuse to participate), symmetric equilibria remain efficient in terms of their group performances and, at the same time, serve as approximate equilibria. We show that this principle holds for a class of games, which we call monotonously scalable games. This applies in particular to our search game, assuming the natural sharing policy, in which C(`) = 1/`. For the exclusive policy, this general result does not hold, but we show that the symmetric equilibrium is nevertheless robust under mild assumptions.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication46th International Colloquium on Automata, Languages, and Programming, ICALP 2019
EditorsChristel Baier, Ioannis Chatzigiannakis, Paola Flocchini, Stefano Leonardi
PublisherSchloss Dagstuhl- Leibniz-Zentrum fur Informatik GmbH, Dagstuhl Publishing
ISBN (Electronic)9783959771092
StatePublished - 1 Jul 2019
Externally publishedYes
Event46th International Colloquium on Automata, Languages, and Programming, ICALP 2019 - Patras, Greece
Duration: 9 Jul 201912 Jul 2019

Publication series

NameLeibniz International Proceedings in Informatics, LIPIcs
ISSN (Print)1868-8969


Conference46th International Colloquium on Automata, Languages, and Programming, ICALP 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Amos Korman and Yoav Rodeh; licensed under Creative Commons License CC-BY


  • Algorithmic Mechanism Design
  • Collaborative Search
  • Fault-Tolerance
  • Parallel Algorithms
  • Price of Anarchy
  • Price of Stability
  • Symmetric Equilibria

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software

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