On the Inefficiency Ratio of Stable Equilibria in Congestion Games
Price of anarchy and price of stability are the primary notions for measuring the efficiency (i.e. the social welfare) of the outcome of a game. Both of these notions focus on extreme cases: one is defined as the inefficiency ratio of the worst-case equilibrium and the other as the best one. Therefore, studying these notions often results in discovering equilibria that are not necessarily the most likely outcomes of the dynamics of selfish and non-coordinating agents.
The current paper studies the inefficiency of the equilibria that are most stable in the presence of noise. In particular, we study two variations of non-cooperative games: atomic congestion games and selfish load balancing. The noisy best-response dynamics in these games keeps the joint action profile around a particular set of equilibria that minimize the potential function. The inefficiency ratio in the neighborhood of these “stable” equilibria is much better than the price of anarchy. Furthermore, the dynamics reaches these equilibria in polynomial time.
Our observations show that in the game environments where a small noise is present, the system as a whole works better than what a pessimist may predict. They also suggest that in congestion games, introducing a small noise in the payoff of the agents may improve the social welfare.
KeywordsPure Strategy Evolutionary Game Theory Congestion Game Small Noise Noncooperative Game
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