Inapproximability of NP-Complete Variants of Nash Equilibrium

  • Per Austrin
  • Mark Braverman
  • Eden Chlamtáč
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 6845)

Abstract

In recent work of Hazan and Krauthgamer (SICOMP 2011), it was shown that finding an ε-approximate Nash equilibrium with near-optimal value in a two-player game is as hard as finding a hidden clique of size O(logn) in the random graph \(G(n,\frac12)\). This raises the question of whether a similar intractability holds for approximate Nash equilibrium without such constraints. We give evidence that the constraint of near-optimal value makes the problem distinctly harder: a simple algorithm finds an optimal \(\frac{1}{2}\)-approximate equilibrium, while finding strictly better than \(\frac12\)-approximate equilibria is as hard as the Hidden Clique problem. This is in contrast to the unconstrained problem where more sophisticated algorithms, achieving better approximations, are known.

Unlike general Nash equilibrium, which is in PPAD, optimal (maximum value) Nash equilibrium is NP-hard. We proceed to show that optimal Nash equilibrium is just one of several known NP-hard problems related to Nash equilibrium, all of which have approximate variants which are as hard as finding a planted clique. In particular, we show this for approximate variants of the following problems: finding a Nash equilibrium with value greater than η (for any η > 0, even when the best Nash equilibrium has value 1 − η), finding a second Nash equilibrium, and finding a Nash equilibrium with small support.

Finally, we consider the complexity of approximate pure Bayes Nash equilibria in two-player games. Here we show that for general Bayesian games the problem is NP-hard. For the special case where the distribution over types is uniform, we give a quasi-polynomial time algorithm matched by a hardness result based on the Hidden Clique problem.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Per Austrin
    • 1
  • Mark Braverman
    • 1
  • Eden Chlamtáč
    • 2
  1. 1.University of TorontoTorontoCanada
  2. 2.Tel Aviv UniversityTel AvivIsrael

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