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Autonomous Agents and Multi-Agent Systems

, Volume 32, Issue 6, pp 741–778 | Cite as

Approximation and complexity of the optimization and existence problems for maximin share, proportional share, and minimax share allocation of indivisible goods

  • Tobias Heinen
  • Nhan-Tam Nguyen
  • Trung Thanh Nguyen
  • Jörg Rothe
Article

Abstract

This paper is concerned with various types of allocation problems in fair division of indivisible goods, aiming at maximin share, proportional share, and minimax share allocations. However, such allocations do not always exist, not even in very simple settings with two or three agents. A natural question is to ask, given a problem instance, what is the largest value c for which there is an allocation such that every agent has utility of at least c times her fair share. We first prove that the decision problem of checking if there exists a minimax share allocation for a given problem instance is \(\mathrm {NP}\)-hard when the agents’ utility functions are additive. We then show that, for each of the three fairness notions, one can approximate c by a polynomial-time approximation scheme, assuming that the number of agents is fixed. Next, we investigate the restricted cases when utility functions have values in \(\{0,1\}\) only or are defined based on scoring vectors (Borda and lexicographic vectors), and we obtain several tractability results for these cases. Interestingly, we show that maximin share allocations can always be found efficiently with Borda utilities, which cannot be guaranteed for general additive utilities. In the nonadditive setting, we show that there exists a problem instance for which there is no c-maximin share allocation, for any constant c. We explore a class of symmetric submodular utilities for which there exists a tight \(\frac{1}{2}\)-maximin share allocation, and show how it can be approximated to within a factor of \(\nicefrac {1}{4}\).

Keywords

Computational social choice Resource allocation Fair division Indivisible goods Maximin share Proportional share Minimax share Complexity Approximation 

Notes

Acknowledgements

We thank the anonymous JAAMAS, ADT 2015, and AAMAS 2017 reviewers for their helpful comments. We also thank Khaled Elbassioni for very helpful discussions. This work was supported in part by DFG Grant RO 1202/14-2, and by Vietnam National Foundation for Science and Technology Development (NAFOSTED Project No. 102.01-2015.33).

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tobias Heinen
    • 1
  • Nhan-Tam Nguyen
    • 2
  • Trung Thanh Nguyen
    • 3
  • Jörg Rothe
    • 2
  1. 1.Saarland University and IMPRS-CSSaarbrückenGermany
  2. 2.Heinrich-Heine-Universität DüsseldorfDüsseldorfGermany
  3. 3.Hai Phong UniversityHai PhongVietnam

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