, Volume 49, Issue 3, pp 171–191 | Cite as

Exact and Approximate Truthful Mechanisms for the Shortest Paths Tree Problem

  • Luciano GualàEmail author
  • Guido Proietti


Let a communication network be modeled by an undirected graph G=(V,E) of n nodes and m edges, and assume that edges are controlled by selfish agents. In this paper we analyze the problem of designing a truthful mechanism for computing one of the most popular structures in communication networks, i.e., the single-source shortest paths tree.

More precisely, we will study several realistic scenarios, in which each agent can own either a single or multiple edges of G. In particular, for the single-edge case, we will show that: (i) in the classic utilitarian case, the problem can be solved efficiently in O(mnlog α(m,n)) time, where α(m,n) is the inverse of the Ackermann’s function; (ii) in a meaningful non-utilitarian case, namely that in which agents’ valuation functions only depend on the edge lengths, the problem can be solved in O(m+nlog n) time. Conversely, for the multiple-edges case, we will show in the utilitarian case an O(mP+nPlog n) time truthful mechanism, where P=O(n) denotes the number of agents participating in the solution, while in the same non-utilitarian case we will prove a general lower bound to the approximation ratio that can be achieved by any truthful mechanism, by showing that no c-approximate mechanism can exist, for any fixed \(c<\frac{5+\sqrt{13}}{3+\sqrt{13}}\) .


Single-source shortest paths tree Selfish agents Algorithmic mechanism design Truthful mechanisms 


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Dipartimento di InformaticaUniversità di L’AquilaL’AquilaItaly
  2. 2.Dipartimento di MatematicaUniversità di Tor VergataRomeItaly
  3. 3.Istituto di Analisi dei Sistemi ed Informatica “A. Ruberti”CNRRomeItaly

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