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The Price of Civil Society

Prof. Tom Wexler
Oberlin College

November 17, 2011
JEC 3117 - 4:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.


Most work in algorithmic game theory assumes that players ignore the costs incurred by their fellow players. In this talk, we'll consider superimposing a social network over a game, where players are concerned with minimizing not only their own costs, but also the costs of their neighbors in the network. Our goal is to understand how properties of the underlying game are affected by this alteration to the standard model. In particular, we'll consider the ratio of the social cost of the worst Nash equilibrium when each player cares about both herself and her friends relative to the worst Nash under standard selfish play. We initiate this study in the context of a simple class of games. Counterintuitively, we show that when players become less selfish (optimizing over both themselves and their friends), the resulting outcomes can in fact be worse than they would have been in the base game. We give tight bounds on this degredation in a simple class of load-balancing games, over arbitrary social networks, and present some extensions.

Hosted by: Prof. Elliot Anshelevich (x6491)

Last updated: November 7, 2011