Interactive-proof games model the scenario where an honest party interacts with powerful but strategic provers, to elicit from them the correct answer to a computational question. Interactive proofs are increasingly used as a framework to design protocols for computation outsourcing.

Existing interactive-proof games largely fall into two categories: either as games of cooperation such as multi-prover interactive proofs and cooperative rational proofs, where the provers work together as a team; or as games of conflict such as refereed games, where the provers directly compete with each other in a zero-sum game. Neither of these extremes truly capture the strategic nature of service providers in outsourcing applications. How to design and analyze non-cooperative interactive proofs is an important open problem.

In this paper, we introduce a mechanism-design approach to define a multi-prover interactive-proof model in which the provers are rational and non-cooperative - they act to maximize their expected utility given others' strategies. We define a strong notion of backwards induction as our solution concept to analyze the resulting extensive-form game with imperfect information.

We fully characterize the complexity of our proof system under different utility gap guarantees. (At a high level, a utility gap of u means that the protocol is robust against provers that may not care about a utility loss of 1/u.) We show, for example, that the power of non-cooperative rational interactive proofs with a polynomial utility gap is exactly equal to the complexity class P^{NEXP}.